George V. Reilly

Review: Giraffe

Title: Giraffe
Author: J.M. Ledgard
Rating: ★ ½
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 298
Keywords: fiction
Reading period: 29-31 August, 2007

This is a very strange novel, which I abandoned half way through. The last book that I abandoned was simply wretched in every way, but this one is beau­ti­ful­ly written.

Giraffe is also utterly, mad­den­ing­ly pointless. It tells the (apparently) true story of the slaughter of a large herd of captive giraffes at a Czecho­slo­va­kian zoo in 1973. The main narrator is a he­mo­dy­nam­i­cist escorting a newly captured herd of giraffes as they are trans­port­ed by barge from Hamburg to the Czech zoo. He is a depressed-sounding young man with little liking for the Communist regime, mired in an ex­is­ten­tial ennui. The entire book reads like a dream sequence, based on the half that I read and the half that I flicked through, hoping against hope that it would finally repay the time that I had spent on it. Some reviewers clearly loved it, but it did nothing for me. Altogether a very odd book for a Scot born in 1968 to have written.

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