I read Timoleon Vieta Come Home (Dan Rhodes) in the train on the way to Newcastle, also listening to Roxette’s greatest hits album (laugh all you like, I’m secure in my music obsessiveness. For the record, the other albums I listened to on the way were Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights and Extra Yard: The Bouncement Revolution, a Big Dada compilation) at the same time.
I really, really liked the book. It was extremely funny, written in the sort of effortlessly readable prose that I tend to be too indisciplined in my writing to manage, and packed a hell of an emotional wallop while actively resisting cliché. But it left me in bits, and I need someone to blame. Read on.
Timoleon Vieta (a mongrel with beautiful eyes) was trying to find his way home after being abandoned in Rome by his owner (Cockroft, a former pops orchestra conductor, now a sad has-been living in Tuscany), under the influence of a manipulative object of infatuation (a mysterious figure known as the Bosnian). Timoleon Vieta was living on rats and bin scavengings, slinking along barely noticed, his skinny belly close to the ground, tired and hungry and sad, and then Roxette sang “I guess loneliness found a new friend”, and my heart almost broke.
I went on through the book, through instance after instance of how our imaginations eagerly build up hopes for happy and meaningful futures, through the slow agonizing creep of disbelief when those hopes start to be eroded or are destroyed in one fell swoop, through Cockroft’s desperation for some company, any company, that won’t eventually leave him without a backward glance, through Timoleon Vieta’s aching paw pads on his long journey home, and then I came to the ending, where my imagination’s hope for a heartwarming resolution to all this pain was cruelly dashed in exactly the same way it had happened to almost everyone else in the book.
I closed the book and sat back destroyed, watching the countryside race heartlessly past, and then I Don’t Wanna Get Hurt started up.
I hate you, Dan Rhodes. I hate you, Roxette. And I’m not even a dog person.