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Tony Grist

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Black Swan Green: David Mitchell [Aug. 18th, 2012|10:32 am]
Tony Grist
Black Swan Green: Why would a long-established English village be called that? Black swans are native to Australia. 

Mitchell is a short story writer. He strings short stories together and calls them novels. (Kipling did something similar.)

Mitchell is famous for doing voices. (Look I'm Kingsley Amis; look I'm Eric Fenby.) Here he's attempting to voice himself- or someone like himself (as a thirteen year old)- but he's still seeing life through genres- the sit-com, the ghost story, the school story. This is his most deeply felt book, but not his best. 

All Mitchell's fiction is about man being a wolf to man. The awfulness is punctuated by odd, gratuitous acts of kindness. A hardnut (one of many) recommends the hero takes a bowie knife to the bully who is picking on him." I'd get sent to borstal," he protests. "Well, wakey fucking wakey," says the hardnut, "Life's a borstal!"