OR: Doctor Mooze

A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #36:-


Panton di Villa

Bluechrome pb, 156pp, £7.99

Okay, this is the blog, sort of, of yer Panton di Villa who is like, this incredibly cool kid, hanging out with his brother Toto, who is a big foney but can be kinda nice too, and his mate Minto, who is so incredibly cool, and the only fly in his oinkment is the scratter Matthews. Matthews is going out with Kate and Panton has the hots for Kate, and it’s not fair cuz Matthews is like this big scratter and such a foney, and Kate is really nice and she could do better. So what Panton and Toto do is they like kill the scratter’s dog and then they like get him to do all sortsa stupid fings so everyone can see like what a total foney Matthews is. And then they hack into Matthews’ computer using backdoor orifice and they download this peedo stuff so the cops come and take Matty’s father away to prison and everybody thinks Matty got goosed by his old man and larfs at him.

The problem of the unreliable narrator is compounded here, with publishers Bluechrome claiming that this is the actual offline blog of a ten year old boy, recording events over a period of nineteen days which ended with his death in a joy riding incident and now published at the request of his family. Naturally names have been changed and so there is no way to check the veracity of this, though it is vital to our appreciation of the story; if true the picture of adolescence given, unpalatable as it is, must be taken at face value. I’m going to stick my neck out and say the story is made up. Panton doesn’t sound like a ten year old so much as an adult hoping to pass muster through copious use of the word ‘like’ (I suppose it could be David Beckham). Panton has trouble spelling short words such as ‘foney’ but none at all with phrases like ‘recreational facility’. He has no friends of his own age but hangs out with the older lads, though I suppose this could just be a genuine ten year old trying to make himself sound more important than he actually is. And during the course of the nineteen days he has his first wet dream, which I guess is not impossible, but seems like a convenient literary coincidence, while the closing notes, with their reference to believing in fairy stories also suggest a degree of fictionalisation. More appositely, it’s hard to believe that any parent would want his dead child’s life commemorated by publication of such a grim and unflattering self portrait.

So, what are we left with? The back cover blurb name drops Catcher in the Rye, but Holden Caulfield represented a generation while Panton di Villa, real or fictional, is just a spiteful little brat who represents no-one much other than himself. Adrian Mole meets the dark side in a nasty little story that uses paedophilia as a convenient plot device and has nothing particularly useful to tell us about the experience of growing up or anything else, except perhaps how easy it is to drag the innocent in the mud. Reworked as Horror fiction and without the attempts at youth speak it might have been much better, but as a mainstream novel and/or social document this is of little worth and leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

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