A Spot of Bother
A Spot of Bother
By Mark Haddon
Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385520515, 368pp.
Publication Date: September 5, 2006
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not at quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. “The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.” Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.
At 61, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has “strangler’s hands.” Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband’s ex-colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
The way these damaged people fall apart – and come together – as a family is the true subject of Haddon’s disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
A SPOT OF BOTHER is Mark Haddon’s unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. Here the madness – literally – of family life proves rich comic fodder for Haddon’s crackling prose and bittersweet insights into misdirected love.
Praise for THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
“Moving . . . Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye and one of Oliver Sacks’s real-life stories.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting.” —Washington Post Book World
“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy.” —The New Yorker
“Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent.” —Boston Globe
“Disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect . . . as suspenseful and harrowing as anything in Conan Doyle.” —Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review
“Funny, sad and totally convincing.” —Time
“More so than precursors like The Sound and the Fury and Flowers for Algernon, The Curious Incident is a radical experiment in empathy. ” —Village Voice
“One of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction.” —Slate