One of my little monsters asleep on my should while I write.
The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium by Gerald Durrell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a collection of unrelated stories written by the late British naturalist, Gerald Durrell. Unlike his other books such as, My Family and Other Animals or Birds, Beasts and Relatives, this set of short stories are more about his family and other assorted people he came across in his life and travels.
All of the stories contain humor, some more than others. The first two stories, The Picnic and The Maiden Voyage, are about his family going on an ill-fated picnic outing to welcome home his brother Lawrence, and an even more ill-fated tour on a Greek cruise ship. These two stories have humorous moments, although some of it seems a bit canned. The third likewise is a little cliche as he meets an old girlfriend in Venice and gets sucked into her zany life dramas.
Some of the stories show a glimmer of the brilliant writer he could have been had he applied himself and, he freely admitted he never applied himself for the reason that he hated to write and only wrote in order to provide a financial resource for his animal advocacy and protection endeavors.
I am speaking of the last two. The penultimate story, The Michelin Man is narrated by a chef in an obscure French village containing an even more obscure restaurant that nevertheless sported one Michelin star. The chef gives a fantastic story as to how his restaurant gained this coveted recognition. Is it true? Doubtful, but it was a great story!
The last story is in a class of its own and almost makes one wonder if Durrell wrote it or plagiarized the story from someone with real ability. In fact he presents the story as if it were a manuscript accidentally found by a book seller. It is titled, The Entrance and is a ghost story/psychological thriller that is spine tingling.
I read it on a rainy day and finished it at two in the morning, which probably added to the suspenseful atmosphere of that particular tale.
Do I recommend this book? Sure. The few well-written stories, especially The Entrance, are worth the price of the entire book.
View all my reviews