THE TINY WIFE – by Andrew Kaufman
- Hardcover: 80 pages
- Publisher: The Friday Project (1 Sep 2011)
- ISBN-10: 0007429258
- ISBN-13: 978-0007429257
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.6 x 1.2 cm
Those of you that often drop by my blog will know that I don’t tend to write a lot of book reviews. I don’t have anything against them, it’s just that so many other bloggers do it so much better (You know who you are). But I am making an exception in this (very special case) because I loved this book so much that I wanted to try to convey my thoughts into words.
To those of you unfamiliar with the premise of ‘The Tiny Wife‘:
“A robber charges into a bank with a loaded gun, but instead of taking any money he steals an item of sentimental value from each person. Once he has made his escape, strange things start to happen to the victims. A tattoo comes to life, a husband turns into a snowman, a baby starts to shit money. And Stacey Hinterland discovers that she’s shrinking, a little every day, and there is seemingly nothing that she or her husband can do to reverse the process.
Can Stacey and the other victims find a solution before it is too late?
The Tiny Wife is a weird and wonderful modern fable.
Small, but perfectly formed, it will charm, delight and unnerve in equal measure.“
As an author, sometimes it can be hard to switch off the writer side of my brain and simply engage with the story as a reader. But on the flip-reverse, sometimes it can be very easy – and on some occasions (more often than I would care to admit even to this illustrious audience) I am left in awe (ie; jealous sick) of the author’s ability to convey the simplest of details in such a perfect way. This book was full of those moments where I just stopped reading and evaluated my position within the universe of authors. My conclusion was that I am but a tiny little star, whereas Andrew Kaufman is a super-massive gas giant.
The first thing that hooked me about this book was the premise, or concept or whatever you want to call it. That elevator pitch “A robber charges into a bank with a loaded gun, but instead of taking any money he steals an item of sentimental value from each person” made me instantly curious to learn what would happen next. But it goes beyond a simple idea told well. Everything about it screams quality. The design, the size, the illustrations (especially), everything is perfect. Not a word out of place, or a chapter too long, or note not hit perfectly on pitch. It might be only 80 pages long, but the story is told with an economic (yet never overly-simplistic) approach to the writing that has trimmed off all the fat and left behind a small but perfectly formed piece of prime fillet.
It’s the literary equivalent of fine cuisine versus All-You-Can-Eat buffet.
Even though Stacey Hinterland experiences some pretty tough times after her run-in with the thief, it is her husband (the narrator) that is the true beating heart of the story. As the situation worsens, there is an undercurrent to the dialogue, things said that really mean other things, the back-and-forth banter of a married couple who wear masks more often than they care to admit. Despite the profoundly bizarre punishment (?) that Stacey has to endure, it is the family as a whole that is affected and must endure.
I must also mention that one of the highlights of the story is learning what happens to the other customers in the bank on the day that the thief arrives. Some of it will make you smile, some of it will furrow your brow. All of it intriguing.
When I like a book this much, I find myself wanting to meet the author in person and shake his/her hand and thank him/her for creating such a fantastic little fable (whilst secretly hoping that I will be able to siphon off a little spark of their talent for my own selfish – and entirely commercial – uses). I want to learn more about them as a person, to find out what makes them tick, to see if they have an aura surrounding them or something obvious that labels them as a genius – or if they are just perfectly ordinary-looking on the outside. The wilder and more insane the story is, the more intriguing the author becomes to me. I would have loved to have met Lewis Carroll, Herge, Roald Dahl, or Douglas Adams for example. Being so far beyond your time, when it seems incredulous that such a thing of artistic perfection could be possible to create under the circumstances.
To sum up: I am insanely jealous of Andrew Kaufman.
But on the plus side, he just became one of those authors that I would readily buy anything that he wrote. Thankfully, we also have ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes‘ and ‘The Waterproof Bible‘, both of which I intend to devour with great expectation as soon as I am able.
Buy this book for yourself, or for someone you love.