Ian Sansom's fourth in the Mobile Library Series is a 3-D book. No, it is not a pop-up book. Nor is it so described because the characters and their small town in Northern Ireland emerge fully formed like Venus from the sea, although that's certainly part of it. It's because in addition to depth and definitude, Sansom adds a third dimension: daftness. Daftness is such a rarified dimension, a stratum where only the immensely gifted can survive. Here is where Sansom thrives. The characters, the plot, the town of Tumdrum are daft indeed. But it's a smart, snappy, literate daftness that reveals insights into the scope of life.
As Peter O'Toole's character, Alan Swann, says in the movie My Favorite Year, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." The number of truly funny storytellers is and always has been vastly outnumbered by melodramatists (my own word for writers of humorless, overblown ...
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