Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"...According to his own statements, health care cuts are inevitable... they're painful measures for which there is no workable alternative..."
"...Have announced a tax cut to encourage the flow of capital, which is key to economic recovery..."
"...The Minister of Education has reiterated that the cuts to the public school budget will not have a negative impact on teaching quality..."
"...We've got to be creative: we've got to learn to do more with less..."
"...Starting next month, electricity costs will go up 9.99%..."
"...Businessmen worried about the image and impact abroad of the street cleaners' strike..."
"...The adoption of Bittercoin will lead to the disappearance of tax havens, there won't be any need for them..."
"...The government has announced a new reformulation of the right to strike..."
"...Experts warn that the public pension system is unsustainable..."
Sigh. There are another three pages of the first protagonist, the masked activist who adorns the cover of this work, listening to depressingly real incoming snippets of news on various channels as he pumps iron in preparation for his big moment. Here is the PR blitz from the publisher to tell us all why it is time to check out...
"Marcos Prior and David BEOWULF Rubín weave a politically satirical look at democracy today through the lens of hyper-violence and explosive action.
Imagine a world overrun by big business and 'fake news' via the social media machine
In The Grand Abyss Hotel neoliberalism has become a state religion, while the citizens quietly and then not-so-quietly rebel, giving way to violence on the streets and sowing chaos. A masked vigilante takes on the role of hero to battle politicians, the erosion of democracy, and social media. After the fires burn low and the dust settles, social order returns. Or does it?"
It really isn't that hard to imagine is it? "...a world overrun by big business and 'fake news' via the social media machine..." and "...neoliberalism has become a state religion..."
For we're all too sadly living it, it seems to me. I should probably clarify at this point that the Grand Abyss Hotel is the (presumably colloquial) name of the home of the government in this city, which is shortly about to come under direct assault. Which raises an interest question, actually. At what point would a full-blown national insurrection be socially acceptable? You would think it could never happen here even in these troubling times. Fast forward another fifty years though and who honestly knows.
Anyway, I digress. Split into four chapters, this work is very much about what is going on in the background, both story-wise and artistically, as it is in the (fist-)in-your-face foreground action. It is relentless brutal, both in the pace of the plot and also the punch it packs. The world Prior and Rubin have created here is rich in satirical depth and sardonic detail.
Prior certainly hasn't skimped on loading up this power-keg of potential carnage and, of course, Rubin is more than capable of spectacularly lighting the fuse. As with BEOWULF, his portrayal of movement and bursts of intense activity is something to behold for the dramatic flare he manages to embed so gracefully into the action. He's right up there with Paul HEAVY LIQUID / ESCAPO / BATTLING BOY Pope as one of my personal favourite artists.
It's nigh-on impossible not to feel at least a tad of visceral excitement at the attacks upon the 'institution' of government and also one particular individual who is singled out for some very special fiscally punitive treatment. In fact, that chapter made me smile a lot, and given some of the nonsense some of our politicians have got up on television in recent years to try and portray themselves as sensitive and understanding of the working class, I think it would be a bloody good idea for a reality TV show
I found the ending, well epilogue, a trifle bemusing, initially at least, though the more I reflected upon it, and I have elucidated in that direction already, it was probably the only ending there could actually be to this particular work. As a piece of distressingly accurate and possibly prescient dystopian speculative fiction, this firmly obliterates the mark to smithereens, let alone hits it.
Buy Grand Abyss Hotel h/c and read the Page 45 review here
Akissi: More Tales Of Mischief (£12-99, Flying Eye Books) by Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin...
"I don't wanna go! He's too mean and ugly and stinky and he spits when talks to us!!"
"Akissi, enough! It's the same old song every day!"
"Only because no one believes me! He will kill me one day and you will all finally GET IT!!"
That major maker of mischief herself is back for more merriment and much chaos. For a more extensive review of the madness and mayhem AKISSI brings everywhere she goes please read my review of the first volume HERE.
This time around she's battling three new foes. I'll let the first, responsible for Akissi's outburst above introduce himself...
"My name is Mr. Adama, your new teacher. I won't beat about the bush... I hate children!"
He really does, and whilst he might not beat around the proverbial shrubbery he certainly likes thwacking the behinds of errant children with a large ruler! Repeatedly... Now, do you think that is going to make Akissi and her friends behave? No, of course not, quite the opposite! In fact, I think Mr. Adama had better watch out...
Further providing a little local cultural context (and hopefully perhaps make us appreciate the NHS even more as well as our education system
) is Akissi's second source of strife, the local Witch Doctor, who I reckon is even more terrifying than her teacher. But then given he's decided Akissi is a devil who is stopping her mum conceiving another baby and his means of dealing with it are equally unconventional, well...
Finally we have Akissi's ultimate nemesis, the new girl Sido, who despite missing a leg, allegedly due to having it eaten by a lion, has all the boys swooning over her due to her prettiness. Akissi, appalled at her rough and tumble chums fawning over this upstart sets about trying to hate her. But, of course, Akissi has got far, far too big a heart for that and promptly ends up best chums with Sido in a way that only Akissi could possibly manage, by thwarting an armed robbery.
Haha, once again Marguerite Abouet & Mathieu Sapin bring Africa to vivid, vibrant life in a way that both appals the sensibilities (seriously Akissi, stop borrowing people's babies without their permission to play with!) and amuses uproariously in equal amounts.