Plush noir

Mark Athitakis has some interesting comments on Tim Davys’s Amberville at the Chicago Sun-Times. This is the improbable story of stuffed animals told in hardboiled noir form as they are engaged in political dissent as fluffy colleagues are placed on a death list. Published in Sweden in 2007, it offers a satiric take on the post 9/11 world – an Orwellian approach that owes more to Animal Farm than 1984.

Tim Davys constructs an entire noirish city out of teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Perhaps the harsh realities of terrorism and rendition are too much for some authors to face — a suspect who gets the stuffing beaten out of him is easier to take if it’s just stuffing. . . . The pulpy, heist-film setup soon gives way to a more Orwellian satire, and Davys’ chief target is religion: As Eric’s research reveals how much control Amberville’s religious authority has over stuffed animals’ fates, the society appears increasingly corroded. “Without an end to a stuffed animal’s life,” Eric thinks, “the church would not exist.” And Eric receives plenty of evidence about how arbitrarily those lives end, “disappeared” in mysterious red pickup trucks. Though the final chapters of the novel largely turn on Eric’s existential despair and epiphanies about the string-pullers in his society, Davys keeps the plot moving by employing a few tools from the noir playbook — a vision of Emma Rabbit’s double-crossing nature comes straight from Chandler. And true identities constantly shift in this world — lovers might be enemies, priests can be evil, and stuffed animals, given the depth and intellect that Davys gives them, may as well be human.

What a peculiar-sounding book. Is the title a play on Jean-Luc Godard’s SF/noir fusion film, Alphaville?

2 thoughts on “Plush noir

  1. Jasper Fforde has a two book series featuring characters from Nursery Rhymes: THE BIG OVER EASY and THE FOURTH BEAR. A new trend, eh?

  2. Pingback: review round-up and misanthropy to look forward to « Scandinavian Crime Fiction

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