Feeding Time by Adam Biles
There is much to admire in the dark comedy – albeit often too brutal for my taste – and in the powerfully energetic prose. But what is this novel about? Half of the quotes the publishers – Galley Beggar Press – have chosen to feature on the back cover refer to a theme of old age. Yet the older characters are only in their seventies when most people of that age of my acquaintance are enjoying purposeful lives. I don’t think it’s even a story of cruel incarceration, of people cut off from the social whirl.
The focus seems more on the younger characters: the middle-aged manager who hides away in his office and the amoral and alienated youths paid a pittance to care. Which they don’t. Perhaps it’s about what happens when young people who’ve lost all hope for the future find themselves bored at work. Projecting their self-loathing onto their vulnerable charges, they drive themselves progressively mad.
The Dolphin House by Audrey Schulman
Concerned about her employer’s barbaric methods, she proposes an experiment that will protect the dolphins while giving the researchers the fame and success they crave. Cora will live, eat and sleep in a watery world with a young dolphin, like a mother and with her baby, and teach it to speak.
Inspired by a real experiment in the mid-1960s, it is a lovely novel about ambition versus empathy, and the different ways we might fail to hear. Thanks to publishers Europa editions for my review copy.