Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004
On the windswept front of Morecambe Bay, Cy Parks spends his childhood years first in a guesthouse for consumptives run by his mother and then as apprentice to alcoholic tattoo artist Eliot Riley. Thirsty for new experiences, he departs for America and finds himself in the riotous world of the Coney Island boardwalk, where he sets up his own business as 'The Electric Michelangelo'.
In this carnival environment of roller-coasters and freak-shows, Cy becomes enamoured with Grace, a mysterious immigrant and circus performer who commissions him to cover her entire body in tattooed eyes.
Hugely atmospheric, exotic, and familiar, The Electric Michelangelo is a love story and an exquisitely rendered portrait of seaside resorts on opposite sides of the Atlantic by one of the most uniquely talented novelists of her generation.
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria and currently lives in Norwich, Norfolk. She is the author of four novels: Haweswater, The Electric Michelangelo, The Carhullan Army, and How to Paint a Dead Man; a collection of short stories, The Beautiful Indifference; original radio dramas; and poetry.
She has won several awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Novel, the Betty Trask Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize, and has twice been recipient of the Portico Prize. She has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Prix Femina Etranger, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, the BBC National Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. This year she was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists.
I had hoped that as a book shortlisted for the Booker Prize this would be good.
It's tiresome, poorly plotted, and completely overwhelmed by list-like description. The character of Cyril Parks (Cy) is interesting as a child but as the story moves through the next 60 years of his life, it becomes very tedious.
This is a story about a man who leaves his seaside home to escape his memories, then returns to pick them up again, like driftwood.
It's very human. This makes it sweet and affecting in some parts, and repulsive in others. There are lots of physical, detailed descriptions of illness that almost put me off wanting to keep listening at times. In the end, they just work to give the story a bloody, gritty foundation.
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