I picked up Bigot Hall by Steve Aylett not knowing what to expect and it just blew me away. It is anarchic black humour at its best, filled with witty observations and completely off the wall characters, whose volatile natures and violent dispositions I have never met the like of before. I never laughed so much at such outrageous brutality; I’m utterly ashamed of myself.
There were many things I was reminded of during my journey through this book: the quasi-dimensional eponymous Bigot Hall, which maintains a tenuous grip on reality, had many of the attributes of Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast, along with the quirkiness of its characters. Uncle Snapper was very much like Trevor Howard in Sir Henry at Rawlinson’s End. There was even a touch of Moorcock in here a la Jerry and Catherine Cornelius’ obsessive incestuous relationship.
Yes, it’s a crazy mix, but shining through is Aylett’s very own wicked sense of humour and style. If I have a quibble it’s that the book is episodic with no real sense of a beginning, middle and end, and the price tag is a little steep for such a short work. However, it was a refreshing change from the standard, long-winded epics you tend to find on the shelves these days; definitely a question of ‘never mind the width, feel the quality’.