What Da Cover Says: M.J. Nicholls’ path-breaking new book is a stark and uncompromising account of the bizarre and regrettable period when the British government set about trimming England. In 2021, British Prime Minister Frank Oakface elected to rid each English county of its most irritating citizen, deporting them for a period of incarceration in Jersey’s one-star Hotel Diabolique. From a ticket inspector whose sudden lust for zydeco music ruins his marriage, to a blogger who hangs around supermarkets seeking sympathy by the bananas, to a teacher who lobotomises an entire classroom to improve her son’s life chances, Nicholls’ fearless reportage brings together the riveting stories of these hapless discards into an ebullient and swashbuckling satire of our contemporary predicament.
What I Says: M. J. Nicholls is a Jazz-Man Word-Smith or a Word-Smith Jazz-Man or a Jazz-Word Smith-Man…one of those at least, he has a unique way with words, he’ll use words that surely do not exist so you google them and yes “Bummershoot” is a word (even though Microsoft refuse to admit that and have done a red squiggle) and it is a word I shall be using whenever I can. He’ll reuse/rephrase words in a sentence and it gives the paragraphs (some rather long) a certain beat and that’s where the Jazz feeling comes in, you find yourself getting lost in the flow and really enjoying what he has conjured up.
I like the idea of the plot, find a crappy hotel and then take the worst person in each county and send them to that hotel for an amount of time determined by just how bad their crimes are. I have to admit that I was rather interested in who got sent from my county, the crime revolved around the pressure of getting that perfect opening sentence. A reoccurring theme of the crimes was to do with writers, the chaos they create, the stress they cause, the abuse they direct at publishers and of course that opening sentence issue…I thought I’d go back to the beginning and check out Nicholls opening sentence, was it a good’un or will he being doing time? It features underpants and all bran so gets a thumbs up for me.
The best in the book was about M. D. Thomas, an 82 year old from Warwickshire, a brilliant rant written on the side of a museum, I found myself agreeing with his words and was rather disappointed he was found guilty.
Another clever, absurd book by Nicholls, it’s not going to be for everybody but if you’re ok with letting go of reality for a bit then you’re going to get quite a few laughs from this…and if you don’t like words, don’t worry there are a lot of great illustrations here too, a bit like YouTube but on pause.