Calabash by Christopher Fowler

Super Seven

Super Seven

I can’t very well start reading a book by British author Christopher Fowler without a mention of my first exposure to his canon of works. Book’s title was Rune, a dark cover, and I picked it up in a specialty bookstore in London, while I was visiting, couple of weeks one summer. Science Fiction and Fantasy bookstore, back when there were such places. Close to the British Museum, like same tube stop, maybe? Not very clear directions. Big, hardback, I toted that novel around with me for years, but eventually, I loaned it out. How its goes. Had a companion, Roofworld, the texts kind of run together in my mind.

There were scenes in that novel, which, to this day, will still haunt me. I was staying in an adjacent neighborhood as that book’s setting, and as I would walk down the same streets in the summer’s dusky twilight, I would look up, wondering if there really were vampires or whatever the creatures of the dark were. Part urban urchin, street punks as only London can hatch.

The London Underground, vapid upwardly-mobile societal predators, urchins in the night, had a bit of it all. Several grisly deaths.

A single novel, now seemingly unavailable through usual channels, kept my interest in one author. So when a new (to me) book surfaced on sale?


Sets a tone.

“Bob preferred the television to his wife. It had an off switch.” Page 42.

I would prefer companionship to the TV. However, as noted? Sets a tone. Narrator is older than me, but not by more than a few years.

Some years distant, I could recall reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane — but can’t locate what I said. Reminiscent of that novel, at first.

Both authors were quintessentially British, both are masters of elements of a certain genre, not sure how that works out.

“He was ageless in a way that wasn’t good, somewhere between postmenopause and postmortem.” Page 84.

Must steal that line, or portions thereof.


As it draws closed, quicker pace, near the end.

“Growing up is, I suppose, a series of missteps and corrections.” Page 498.

Yes, yes it is. So is adult-hood. I don’t think I want to “adult” any more today.

“The Princess. No-one can become a hero without rescuing a princess. I am right, no?” Page 586.

C.S.Lewis wrote a series of “children’s books,” and in an odd way, reminds me of those. Sort of.

It’s a bit of homage, pastiche in some form, although, I couldn’t — even if pressed — place the roots offhand. Echoes and such.

The tale itself is a delight, and one that works so well with me, as the protagonist is a sickly child, often bullied, except in certain places. The power, the gift of imagination, and where that can take any of us.

“And they lived happily ever after. The end.”

I know I made that up, but it was fitting conclusion. In other media, the author himself has said that Calabash is his most autobiographical work so far. Across his own weblog, the author quotes Time Out London, something along the lines of how he would make a really good serial killer.


Calabash by Christopher Fowler

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