by Magnus Macintyre
Paperback, 301 pg.
Marble Arch Press, 2015
Read: October 13 – 14, 2015
This is the story of a self-centered, shallow, city-dwelling fat man who takes an opportunity to reinvent himself and travels to a small town in Scotland to be the voice of a proposed wind farm. Which, of course, he knows nothing about. So, our fat man, Claypole, spends the next week bouncing around from here to there in this community, finding himself in one embarrassing/catastrophic situation after another. I think this is where we’re supposed to find humor — it never struck me as funny. These all just seemed like a guy acting without thought and finding himself being taken care of like some sort of bumbling Candide.
As anyone who’s read this setup knows, once this particular Englishman went up this proverbial hill, he developed an understanding of this community, learned some important life lessons, and whatnot before he came down the proverbial mountain.
I couldn’t tell, really, how sincere we’re to take the “green” portions of this story — there are a couple of true believers, and a cartoonish doubter or two — but the rest, their interest in/commitment to the cause seems pretty shallow. Now, that’s the characters, not the author, I grant you. But when the central plot revolves around the establishment of an environmentally friendly source of power, I expect a bit more than that.
Those people that do actually end up liking Claypole — I don’t get it. Particularly those who take a seemingly instant liking to him. He’s such an offensive buffoon that it’s hard to understand. I guess I can understand those who grow to like him when they see the man behind the awkwardness.
The people of this small town are sketchy, outside of one family, they’re fairly generic stock characters. And that family? I can’t buy them either, a little more fleshing out and I probably could’ve believed them. But pretty much, they’re just a collection of characteristics, tics, and odd wardrobes.
Whirligig has very sweet ending, and it was not exactly the one a reader would expect, but pleasant, and – like “crap telly” (Claypole’s words) had taught him, one that tied everything up nicely.
Not funny enough, not “green” enough, and I couldn’t connect the way I wanted to with anyone. Near miss after near miss after near miss takes me to a 2 1/2 Star rating.