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Deaf at Spiral Park is a book about a bear that shaves off his fur to join humanity. The novel uses a range of generic approaches, such as comedy and philosophy, to question the humanity of the bear, and conversely the animalistic behaviour of those around him. A cast of characters such as a clown, an invalid, a farmer and a philosopher transcend their stock types and become involved in the complex world of the bear. The antagonist, a recruitment consultant, dies several times, and, ultimately, this teaches her nothing. This is a fresh and original novel which remains accessible and funny in spite of its experimental and philosophical concerns.
‘Surreal, touching, and very very funny.’ —Rob Shearman
‘Kieran Devaney's brilliant first novel.’ —Nicholas Royle
‘Deaf at Spiral Park leaves a lingering nausea familiar to anyone who has ever had a performance review. But the dark humour of the novel sustains it. Tiny flashes of joy are there though only fleetingly, the shafts of sunlight on a pavement, a minor victory for someone on the ‘shitlist’ (only called on for the worst of jobs), and an ‘impossibly moving’ moment for the bear at a concert. All soon swallowed up, but some moments to hold on to.
Perhaps what is most telling is that I read Deaf at Spiral Park on a long commute either side of a day’s work that at times felt like just another surreal episode in the novel.’ —Cultural Outpost
‘It takes a vivid imagination to come up with the central premise of Deaf at Spiral Park and Kieran Devaney clearly has that imagination.
It follows the misadventures of a bear, who shaves off all his fur, clips his claws, buys the biggest clothes he can find, and tries to join the world. We find him trying to hold down a series of temporary jobs, while interacting with the recruitment consultant, whose frequent deaths have no educational value, and a myriad of other characters, add the human elements to this novel.
As you can probably tell, it is definitely in the genre of magic realism, but it is none the worse for that. This conceit, such as it is, allows for the very nature of what makes us human to be fully explored, and although the book does not have a strong plot (it is the whole grass is greener on the other side, no it isn't type hero quest) it does pose more questions and ideas than perhaps ninety percent of the books that find their ways onto the shelves of our bookshops do.
It is a worthwhile read, and if your reading tastes fall somewhere between The Life of Pi, Vernon God Little, and Then We Came To The End, then you should definitely give this book a try.’ —Ben Macnair
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