A couple of weeks ago I posted a trailer for the Tancredi book up here on Sick Chirpse and said that I would review it that week. Unfortunately for whatever reason I didn’t get around to reviewing it that week – even though I had read it – so here it is, in all its belated glory.
Tancredi is kind of a weird book. It’s sort of like a modern day Canterbury Tales as its protagonist – Tancredi – wanders around the galaxy stopping off at various planets and upon each he has to deal with and attempt to conquer (for lack of a better word) one of the ‘perversions of modern life’ – for example, divorce, game shows, obesity and psychology. Of course, these aren’t really ‘perversions of modern life’ but Palumbo succeeds in satirising each to dark extremity which is either really funny or kinda scary depending on how you view it. Considering Tancredi is set in the future, it’s possible – however far fetched – that the universe could one day end up like Palumbo’s vision. Or at least certain places on the planet could (and arguably already are) going the way Palumbo predicts.
Tancredi itself has a vague plot: that a new star named Surprise was discovered on his birthday and is set to go supernova and Tancredi sets out to stop it, as he is the only human not afflicted with the ‘disease of short term thinking’ as Palumbo puts it. Although Tancredi does make it to Surprise at the end, the book is more about the journey and the characters and trials and tribulations Tancredi meets along the way rather than the ultimate destination, as these allow Plambo to critique and satire modern day society in a funny and often very dark way.
This juxtaposes the style that the book is written in as it is almost childlike and simple in its construction, complete with some zany illustrations. That isn’t meant to be insulting, and I’m sure it’s a deliberate trait on Palumbo’s part but it resembles a children’s fairy tale in its style, or perhaps a much darker version of Roald Dahl. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it – an adult’s dark satire of a fairytale.
The book is also fairly short and fast paced, and this combined with Palumbo’s writing style really makes the book enjoyable, as even though I’ve mentioned that there’s little semblance of a plot, you are still anxious to continue reading and discover what Tancredi is going to come up against next on his journey and just how Palumbo is going to satire it to its darkest and most extreme possiblilty.
Although the ending isn’t that satisfying, I would say that the journey is certainly worth the read and that Tancredi is an enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone looking to laugh and explore a gross parody of the current world we live in. Check it out if you get a chance. You can order it online here.
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