All for a setee

Time to put it into words. Time to take all these thoughts bouncing around in my head and tie them down to one concrete surface. The moments I have not thought about The Late Hector Kipling (by David Thewlis, in case we’ve never met) since finishing it are few and far between. Perhaps one of the most effective things I did while reading the book was to hit up Flickr some pictures of Blackpool. (I saw you roll your eyes.) This was before I knew the outcome of the book but the photos of the seawalls were particularly mournful and melancholic, which god, of course, ties in with what happens there. (Just one line of the entire book and it is the image that has stayed with me.)

Last year when I went on my foray into Kerouac’s journals, this strange thing happened to my brain that set the wheels in motion. It was a large reason why I signed up for my class in the spring, a large reason why I just signed up for the continuation of that class for fall, and a large reason why I’ve got a barely-cobbled together list of graduate schools somewhere on the internet. (No, really. I have to find it. I have no idea what I did with it.) I saw many of my own thoughts in those pages written by Kerouac. It gave a sense of order to the chaotic flights of fancy my brain is wont to take.

I sat down with this book thinking I was reading a book written by an actor but as it turns out, I was reading a book written by a writer who has made a living at acting. (What I’ve read of his poetry is equally phenomenal.) As with most books, for myself, it took me a few pages to really settle into the story. I’m a bit slow on the uptake (just ask The BFF, who spent 15 minutes trying to get me to figure out Mamma Mia!. She was not amused.), so I am not always easily swayed by openings. Unless they’re really, really good ones.

I took an immediate disliking to Lenny because I so foolishly believed that Hector was, of course, the honest person in this book. I don’t want to give anything away because I really think you should all read it (if you like dark comedy, that is), but it’s hard to dissect my feelings about it without revealing that Hector is one of those characters that you kind of hope gets his in the end all while feeling a bit sorry for him. He’s a selfish, self-centered, egotistical coward with a beautiful Greek girlfriend who worships him (Eleni is girl-crush worthy, jsyk), an overbearing mother, a bizarre father, and couple of really good friends who somehow manage to tolerate his bullshit on regular basis.

Then there is Rosa, who is of course the wild, borderline psychotic American girl who maims Hector on several occasions (but the first time was disturbingly erotic, or that could’ve just been me, reading about hot wax and bare stomachs and, well, writers.). You kind of watch helplessly as Hector digs himself these enormous, life-altering holes and then throws himself into them with abandon.

I spent a goodly portion of this book either laughing (because really, parts of it are just hysterical, like when he meets Rosa for the first time) or wanting to punch Hector in the face for being such a complete idiot. It’s written in such a way that you kind of feel as though Hector has plucked you up and nestled you in his head so he can go about his daily life without having to stop and dictate everything back to you at the end of the day. As a writer of characters who, by and large, live in their heads, it was nice to see that someone could pull this off so well.

Hector sometimes spends hours doing nothing: sitting at the top of a ladder in his flat, playing the same note over and over again on Eleni’s piano, staring up at the black hole he painted on the ceiling. But somehow, all of that nothing that he’s doing is actually something and leads you to believe that maybe Hector’s biggest problem is that he thinks far too much and does too little.

This is nowhere what I wanted to say about the book but so much of it is internal and will likely never see the light of day, at least not as a series of coherent, constructive remarks.


Who I would cast as Hector Kipling: Dylan Moran, who will always Bernard to me. I have a mad crush on both Bernard and Dylan Moran. Also, while I was looking for pictures of him, I saw “Dylan for Doctor!” in the summary of one website and said, very loudly in my head, YES PLEASE. He would make a good Doctor.


Posted on August 12, 2008, in Adventures with Sparkle Pants, All about Sparkle Pants, Rambling, Writer of fictions. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. So, something I should read?

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