Tropic of Skorpeo by Michael Morrissey - review

by gabeatkinson / 24 January, 2013
A work reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Thomas Pynchon, by way of a Hunter S Thompson acid trip
Tropic of SkorpeoMichael Morrissey’s much-publicised battle with bipolar disorder was always going to shadow this, his first major work since a documentary and memoir on the experience of that illness. Anyone who thought it may have driven this remarkable and prodigious creative talent to writing about bleakness and despair will be relieved: Tropic of Skorpeo is vivid and fast-paced, the direct opposite of the paralysing greyness that constitutes depression.

Juraletta of Venera is all set to marry the (c)rusty old Fissionable Duke (he exists on a diet of heavy metals) when a chance trip to the Outside sees her run into the rather dashing Rhomeo. Her heart and all four breasts are quite aquiver: follow the route chosen for her or chase the seductive but rather fey and also betrothed heir to another planet? What’s a girl to do?

With its endless literary wordplay, Skorpeo reminds me of Jasper Fforde’s books, and also of Lewis Carroll and Thomas Pynchon as if seen on a Hunter S Thompson acid trip.

The plot, as such, has a plethora of parallel plots that slowly weave together; the characters, although utterly fantastical, do find themselves weighing up Shakespearean-type moral dilemmas. It is, at times, hilarious, often very sexual, occasionally puerile, undoubtedly clever. And the story, as much as there is one, romps along. But I have to say I just found it too over the top, as if Morrissey has injected every last adjective he can think of – and often three or four at a time – and combined them with as many puns as he can muster. Indeed, some of the material feels like it’s been crowbarred into the theme and style.

As Abraham Lincoln was supposed to have said: “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” Me: not so much, I’m afraid.

TROPIC OF SKORPEO, by Michael Morrissey (Steam Press, $30).

Michael Larsen is a writer and reviewer.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

A post-mortem on Todd Barclay and Matt McCarten's fiascos
76497 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Politics

A post-mortem on Todd Barclay and Matt McCarten's …

by Jane Clifton

In the catalogue of disaster, is a Todd Barclay worse than a Matt McCarten?

Read more
The Trump family's Kremlin connection
76655 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z World

The Trump family's Kremlin connection

by Paul Thomas

From “nothing to see here” to a Cold War-era spy story played out in real life, the Trump family’s Kremlin connection is a source of fascination.

Read more
The Journey – movie review
76661 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

The Journey – movie review

by James Robins

A van isn’t a great vehicle for a drama on how old enemies ended the Troubles.

Read more
Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at the United Nations
76664 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at …

by David Larsen

Tracking Helen Clark’s tilt for the top job at the United Nations, Gaylene Preston documented the creatures of the diplomatic world.

Read more
Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland Road
76815 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland…

by Russell Baillie

Best known for her comedy roles, Jackie van Beek takes a dramatic detour in her feature-directing debut.

Read more
Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its centenary approaches
76427 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Small business

Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its…

by Rob O'Neill

Parisian Neckwear, founded in 1919, has survived depression, war, deregulation and a deluge of cheap imports. How? Just feel the cloth.

Read more
David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about murder of Swedish tourists
76738 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Crime

David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about m…

by Donna Chisholm

Nearly 30 years after young Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen disappeared in the Coromandel key witnesses say the mystery haunts them.

Read more
Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and human exploitation collide
76728 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and huma…

by The Conversation

With the advent of orphanage tourism, travellers think they're doing good. But they can often just be lining the pockets of the orphanages' owners.

Read more