The Pillowman - Martin McDonagh Book Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
THE PILLOWMAN
Martin McDonagh
 
 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: October 2010

Book Information

Publisher: Faber & Faber
RRP: 18.95

10

out of 10

 

 

The problem with being utterly lazy is that things don’t get done when they’re supposed to get done.  Take tonight

Sometimes I despair for the written word.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sidled up to a grizzled gent in an inner-city pub with the opening salvo ‘So, read any good books lately cobber?’ only to be rudely rebuffed with a prompt ‘Fuck off, poofter’ and a chorus of snide chuckles from onlookers possessed of more facial hair than myself. 

Which is a shame, because I really do have some genuinely trenchant insights into the world of literature, with which I could happily be regaling a roomful of rapt, half-drunk onlookers if only they would give me the chance.  Instead I usually end up nursing a beer in a corner of the room, casting resentful glances at all and sundry and thinking of witty rejoinders that would have been appropriate had I the capacity to concoct them in something approaching a timely fashion. 

At any rate, if my opinion was ever sought on the matter the first words out of my mouth would be ‘read The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh’.  I know that plays aren’t exactly the coolest things going around.  Essentially the Paris Hilton of the literary world, most people seem to  agree they’ve pretty much had their day and now wish they’d kindly just fuck off and die quietly in a gutter somewhere. 

Oh, everyone knows Shakespeare had his shit together.  Moliere’s works are hilarious.  Becket’s Waiting for Godot was an enjoyable enough little diversion and Marilyn Monroe-shagger Arthur Miller introduced entire generations of high school students to political paranoia with The Crucible.  Whoop-dee-do.  Can we go back to getting drunk at Law balls and watching The Hills reruns please? 

Well, slow down there Sonny Jim.  Let’s get a sense of perspective here.  First of all McDonagh isn’t some bespectacled old prune penning twaddle in between bouts of fucking the most famous blonde starlet of his generation.  He was the writer and director of In Bruges, one of the best films of 2008, and is a widely-respected playwright whose work has steadily been garnering awards since his mid-20s.  And The Pillowman may well be his magnum opus. 

This blackest of black comedies concerns Katurian, a playwright in a nameless totalitarian state arrested because of a striking similarity between the child murders rife in his short stories and a number of real-life crimes.  And that’s all I’m going to tell you, because anything else would just be spoiling the surprise.  The adjectives bandied about the back cover can’t begin to do this haunting, audacious and confronting work justice.  It took me three or four attempts just to get through the two pages in which McDonagh introduces the tragic figure of the Pillowman.  Yes, it is just that sad, and I am just that sensitive.  Be that as it may this taut, hypnotic book will stay with you long after you’ve read its final pages. 

And that’s what I’d say to the wizened old sots at the bar, in between sips of stout and drags on my Winnie Blues.  If only they’d ever ask me, the pricks.      






 
 



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