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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

A Self-Indulgent Study In Egoism

Armadillo (Foam Book) - William Boyd

Armadillo is the story of Lorimer a.k.a. Milo, an insomniac loss adjuster with a personality crisis and an obsession with collecting antique helmets who simultaneously falls in love with an actress glimpsed briefly in a taxi and becomes inadvertently embroiled in an elaborate fraud perpetrated by his own company. There's a straightforward narrative and a parallel set of excerpts from Lorimer's journal which provide a commentary on the action.

I chose to read this book after reading two of Boyd's later works and enjoying them because they seemed unpretentious and entertaining while still achieving a depth of field that made them qualify as bona fide literary thrillers.

Unpretentious Armadillo is not. One Amazon reviewer described it as 'the literary equivalent of bad Jazz. Incredibly self indulgent and so cloaked in over wordy description without hint of any story.' Another reviewer wrote, 'Every supporting character felt fake, one-dimensional, a function of the need to construct a filmable narrative.' I couldn't agree more, though I should point out that many more Amazon reviewers thought it was wonderful.

In my opinion the writing is monstrous, the characters totally unsympathetic, the milieu implausible and the whole thing reads like a study in egoism. I struggled to get to the end of it and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.