Review Blog

Oct 03 2013

The full ridiculous by Mark Lamprell

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Text, 2013. ISBN 9781922147264.
(Age: Senior secondary) Michael O'Dell, the main character in this first novel by Mark Lamprell, is having a bad time. Did it start with his son Declan's over-indulgence in marijuana? Or was it his daughter Rosie's violent confrontation with an over-indulged class-mate? Or was it his own cynical movie reviewing that led to a confrontation with a disappointed director?  Or was it being struck by a blue Volvo on a pedestrian crossing while jogging? Whenever the start, his life keeps getting worse. He has taken a year off work to write a definitive work about Australian movies, but the writing is not going well. He has two mortgages and school fees to pay. His wife Wendy is tirelessly supportive and loving, as is Egg, his dog. However his teenage children have escalating problems that he is unable to solve, because of his own problem, a deepening depression that his psychiatrist (who he cannot afford) feels is connected to an unresolved trauma from earlier in his life. Matters keep getting worse. He feels more and more useless but evades taking the problem seriously, until he eventually contemplates suicide. However, he bungles it and lives on, to have a psychological break through thanks to his psychiatrist. His children solve their own problems. He is offered work again and joyfully accepts the chance. Wendy and Egg are still tirelessly loving, one critically, one totally uncritically. Michael now understands that love is what matters. This book is a tragi-comedy, with the comedic elements stronger than the tragic. There is a message here about the debilitating nature of depression, and the need to take the symptoms seriously, but much of the novel is simply very entertaining. Michael's is the voice that tells the story and it is a wry, perceptive one that captures his own failings accurately and humorously. Lamprell has a good ear for dialogue and the teenagers' voices are captured particularly well. This novel is insightful about family life and about what a father feels his role should be. It is an easy read and is very entertaining. It is suitable for older readers.
Jenny Hamilton

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