Sian reads The Ottoman Motel by Christopher Currie

Words by Sian Campbell

Published on April 29, 2012

I can’t be certain of course, but I believe the first time I met Christopher Currie properly, I climbed on top of him, screeched unintelligible things about life into his ear, tried to peer-pressure him into sculling down leftover wine with me “for the sake of the party” (which, I should add in the name of honesty, was not an American high school keg party but a very respectable artists’ meet and greet for a very respectable writing festival) and hijacked his mobile phone to wax lyrical about pizza to whoever was on the other end of the line, who I was only kind of sure was our mutual friend James. Needless to say this kind of sacred bond is one that should never be broken, and when Stilts asked me to review Currie’s The Ottoman Motel I was dubious.

“What if it’s shit?” I yelped. “Or what if it’s good, but, like, really good, and I can never look him in the eye again for fear of insulting his almighty talent with my inferior souuuuuul?”

I am pleased to report that the latter fears were founded.

The Ottoman Motel is the story of Simon, an eleven-year-old boy whose parents go to a lake in the late afternoon and never come back – but it’s also the story of Pony, a fifteen-year-old with a tragic past, police officer Madaline, Simon’s grandmother… rather than being singularly about Simon, The Ottoman Motel seems more to be a story about the fragility of the human condition.

Surprisingly, considering some pretty heavy subject matter, The Ottoman Motel is almost comforting. (“Mum, you have to read this book once I’m done! It’s so beautiful!” “What’s it about?” “Oh, you know… murder and self-mutilation and abduction and corruption and old lady whores.”) I’ve found that it’s a rare book that manages to keep a reader on the edge of their couch without resorting to sensationalism, and without forsaking the writing itself. Currie somehow manages this consistently and seemingly effortlessly, complementing a young boy’s voice with adult perspectives -a history with the short story was obviously a great asset in this regard – and always keeping the reader a step ahead of the action while still managing to deliciously shock.

(And you know who couldn’t keep us hooked without occasionally forsaking the writing a bit? J.K. Rowling. I am just saying.)

Basically, if you like good books – and of course you do, because what are you, an idiot?! – you will like this book. You will recommend it to people and you will even lend it to your mother after you’re done, even, which might be a big step for you because maybe your mother is the sort of person who borrowed What The Family Needed and said, “I don’t get this literary fiction of yours, Sian. Did the family actually have powers? I don’t understand.”

Well, here’s something you’ll understand, Mum – The Ottoman Motel is a very good book. Trust me, okay?

Anyway, the point, reader, is that you should read this book. Did I get that across? Because that was my point. And the next time I talk to Chris Currie, I will probably actually be talking to my shoes.