Book Review: News Pigs, by Tim Wilson

Available in bookstores this April 2014.

With its unconventional style and a helter-cv_news_pigsskelter, relentless plot, it took me a while to find myself immersed in this semi-satirical, darkly humongous tale. News Pigs is written almost like a stream of consciousness, and shamelessly thumbs its nose at the basic “rules” (aka guidelines) associated with writing: there are exclamation marks a-plenty, footnotes scattered about but once one gets used to the technique (about one-two chapters in) it really makes for a compelling read. So compelling, in fact, that one is tempted to begin again once they are finished, so that they can re-experience the first-chapter events within the greater context.

It is highly amusing − although some of the jokes went over my head − and filled with over-the-top instances and madcap pacing. Tom Milde is a poet and, to put it frankly, a bit of a no-hoper, when entirely by chance he receives his big break: the chance to travel across to report-from-the-scene of the greatest gun massacre America has ever known − named the Santa Shooter. What follows is an insane comedy of errors involving rival journalists, posh-boy rednecks, a rare manuscript, an orphaned red shoe, a foul-mouthed editor (all the swear words being transformed into strings of symbols, ie: “$#*!”) and a distinct lack of sleep and food on the part of poor Tom. The narrative is relentless, pebbled with social satire, littered with subtle digs at New Zealanders, Aussies and people from the PLC (a fictional country situated somewhere near New Zealand from which Milde originates), Americans, news reporters (from which profession the author hails), and NRA lobbyists. Pretty much everyone Milde encounters along the way is taking the mickey of someone or something.

Despite the almost-haphazard structure, it is actually very precise, very deliberate and extremely clever. The sort of story that digs its claws in, dragging you with it (not *quite* kicking and screaming) and forces you to stay up well after midnight so that you can finish it.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

News Pigs
by Tim Wilson
Published by Victoria University Press
ISBN 9780864739179

News Pigs gets it first outing in Auckland on Tuesday next week. If you’re around, please drop into Corner Bar, Hotel de Brett on Tues 8 April, 6pm-7.30pm.

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