What is it about this work which reminds me of an IKEA store? It might have been the fanfare which accompanied its release, a novel written in spare moments by a former cleaner at the Brighton Pier on his mobile phone. Perhaps the very idea of someone trapped inside a wardrobe and then making his way around the world, not that I can see all that much excitement in the concept; it’s not as if someone trapped inside a wardrobe gets to see a great deal. Perhaps, and this strikes me as most probable, it was the title which first caught my attention. There seems to be a tendency, amongst some publishers, to go for longer titles, after years of just three words.
Photo Credit: anitacanita – Creative Commons
Whatever it was, I regret it. I have never been a great fan of the guided tour of IKEA to find that one, small kitchen utensil. The stores strike me as being bland, contrived, lacking in any real humanity. There is not even an attempt to create individuality. With IKEA, you know that what you are buying has been produced in massive quantities and that everyone who shops in IKEA is likely to have one or more item that you also have. There is a certain shallowness about the stores, and that is what I found in this novel too. The wordplay, especially upon various names, was contrived and shallow; despite adequate descriptions, I couldn’t get into the characters at all, the seemed to be taken out of an ordinary box and only partially constructed.
The storyline could have pulled the whole together but, here too, I found it wanting in description and depth. What could have been a very humorous, touching investigation into the plight of those illegals caught on the border of one country and sent packing off to another they have never visited before, lacked the wit, the charm, the sarcasm needed.
Published by Vintage. ISBN: 978 0 09 959979 1.
- Viktoria Michaelis.