An immigrant brings his pet Caracal into the country. It escapes and kills alot of people. In Wales.
Caracal - A medium sized asiatic predator , with characteristic pointed ears , which skins it's victims before eating them.
At first glance the idea of a Caracal as a maneater seems a bit absurd. What's easy to forget is that Smithland isn't reality - like the mythical Hammerscape , this is Guy's neverland , where crabs can topple tanks , alien bog beasts rape and bats circle sucking pits.In this world the absurd takes preference over the mundane - in this instance the killer caracal becomes for all intents , every Beast of Bodmin myth rolled into one snarling package that the reader identifies with on a urban mythical level.
Much of the book centres around the hunt - Smith employing his exacting knowledge of procedure , describing weaponry in pornographic detail , gun barrels glistening in the sun... cocked. Through the hunters dialogue we learn more of Smith's own opinion of hunting than ever before - adding a social commentary and autobiographical edge. This effect is further enhanced by making one of the protagonists a writer , a struggling pulp writer in fact trying to pen a follow up to his first successful novel - whilst being continually criticised by the leader of the commune , a control freak literature student...
Caracal is undistilled Smith - bloody and violent to a degree , using characters you might recognize from his personal arsenal - the pipe smoking academic , the disgruntled gamekeeper , the damaged Smith hero etc - but what's unexpected is that the caracal itself becomes the most sympathetic of them all. Whilst you can't condone it's actions - it's not hard to feel more than a little sympathy for it's plight.
Fair enough, I suppose I could probably make do without every man-skinning, pointy eared pet novel ever published, no matter how misunderstood said monster may be (see also The Slime Beast) but when it comes to .....
This effect is further enhanced by making one of the protagonists a writer , a struggling pulp writer in fact trying to pen a follow up to his first successful novel - whilst being continually criticised by the leader of the commune , a control freak literature student...
... No way can I continue 'living' for ten more minutes without that!
Lovely review, ade!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Wolfcurse you Ade and your Smith marathon. I seem to remember avoiding this one for ages, then really taking a shine to it when I read it. Top review! You're bringing out all manner of GNS baggage I wouldn't have picked up (superficial swine that I am).