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[124] The Aerodynamics of Pork – Patrick Gale

pork.jpgFeature author of The Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival 2008.

I have trouble nailing down a single passage that encompasses the gist of this novel, Patrick Gale’s debut, whose entwining storylines and the quick actions ensued keep my plate full. A lot is going on but all the loose ends eventually communicate at the end. The Aerodynamics of Pork follows a series of events that unfold during one summer simmering week—the week before Seth Felix Peake, whom the novel revolves around, turns sixteen. In the opinion of academic he is lost and in the eyes of the church misdemeanment, Seth holds a most special place in his mother’s heart. The young music prodigy seems uncannily to comprehend sufferings of maturity and torments transmuted to a score. On the eve of the Peake’s departure to Cornwall where Evelyn Peake conducts the annual music festival, WPC Maude Faithe is investigating a series of violent attacks on newspaper in London.

At Cornwall, Seth scrapes a friendship with the good-looking, somewhat conceited Roly MacGuire, who is commissioned to renovate statures and sculptures in the nave to embrace gala spirit. That Roly talks about his homosexuality to the teenager in an unbridled manner encourages Seth’s self-discovery. Meanwhile, Seth’s sister, Venetia, an aspiring literature scholar, lapses in a rare state of hysteria in which pent-up sexual neurosis is manifest in the classic pregnancy symptoms. As occurrence and consequence of the “Astro-Burglar” multiply and cumulate in an arson that burns nothing but fortune-telling books at a warehouse, Hwu Peake, Seth’s father disappears.

As Seth sets out in hot pursuit of the unconventional romance with the sculptor, who feels a qualm of the boy’s being incapable to cope with his feelings, every bit of details and hints begin to fall into place. Lying in the middle of all these but remaining rather understated is a permeating social relevance, which concerns an amendment to the law suggesting that sixteen, not twenty-one, should be the fair age of homosexual consent. The smooth writing and intriguing plot put me into a state of lolling and contented absorption. The ending is tugged away in a rather abrupt manner but the scrupulous reader will catch the allusive meaning.

8 Responses

  1. Hey Matt, what did you make of the Mother – she was quite an important character in the story for me – in the centre of a family that seemed to be progressing though its set of crises with a sense of upper middle class normality (british definition of class) .


  2. Sounds interesting. You always manage succint summaries.

    The title is so weird. Does it relate to anything in the novel?

  3. James:
    Good point. I’ve thought of Evelyn Peake a someone who is just silently watching the whole crazy episodes unfold–the immaculate conception, the scandal that involves astro burglar, etc. She definitely keeps her cool, and embraces what her children might be going through even if they’re not conforming to the main stream.

    I think the words pork appears a couple times throughout the novel. And that’s about it! It’s a page-turner with very imaginative premise, but permeated with social relevance.

  4. Very nice review, and now you get me intrigued! 🙂

  5. John:
    I just finished (at this minute) his second novel, Kansas in August, which I like even better. 🙂

  6. I have no luck finding any of his books. 😦

  7. […] breakfast and headed out to Green Apples to look for some books. I found Rough Music by UK author Patrick Gale, whom I found has no distributor in the United States. That’s a stroke of luck. Green Apple […]

  8. […] Literary Festival 2008.” It was a book review of Patrick Gale’s debut novel, Aerodynamics of Pork. What a coincidence that I’m revisiting this post, I just finished another novel of […]

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