I can’t believe it’s over two years since Hattie Holden Edmonds was last on Linda’s Book Bag. On that occasion she provide a super guest post for her book Cinema Lumiere that you can read here. Sadly, I didn’t have chance to read Cinema Lumiere so I am very pleased to be invited by Anna Birt at Red Door to be part of the launch celebrations for Hattie’s latest book The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick and I have my review to share today.
The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick was published yesterday, 8th November 2018, by Red Door and is available for purchase here.
The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick
Oskar is the ultimate outsider. He’s been living on the Berlin streets since he was 13. To perk himself up, he paints the misery of mankind and has become the enfant terrible of the Berlin art scene.
But one day during a not-so-routine eye test he tries on a pair of glasses which blow his bleak world view to bits and give him a glimpse of heaven.
Shortly after, to Oskar’s fury, he begins to see the beauty of the world around him, to feel a connection to others and, most frightening of all, to fall in love.
Will it be an easy ride? Hell no.
My review of The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick
Trying on new glasses might just be a step too far for Oscar!
The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is frequently completely bonkers because Oskar himself is so quirky, and I really, really enjoyed reading it. There’s a deliciously dark humour to Hattie Holden Edmonds’ writing so that I often laughed aloud at Oskar’s actions and responses. In fact, I thought Oskar was an absolute triumph of a character. Who couldn’t love someone whose breakfast egg is a Kinder Surprise? As his life is changed, his unsuccessful attempts to remain bitter, negative and sullen are brilliantly conveyed and he really is the most endearing anti-hero I’ve ever encountered. Dunkelblick as a surname suits him perfectly as, if my O’level German from over 40 years ago serves me right, I think it means ‘dark view’ and that’s certainly how Oskar has liked to live and paint.
There’s a huge authenticity through the cultural references in The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick too. Some I was fully aware of and others I actually looked up as I was so drawn in to the writing and wanted to know what was fact and what fiction. I think this lends a super level of depth that is also conveyed by very poignant themes underpinning the lighter and funnier surface. Oscar’s childhood experiences are seen to affect his present life and the bullying he is subjected to is something I think will resonate with many readers. The concept that personal perception colours (quite literally here actually) how we view life is a wonderful element and the book reaches levels of parable and aphorism that I found very pleasing. I loved the sensitive presentation of love and emotion that is all the more effective because of the ways so many characters try to refute their feelings. Indeed, I think Hattie Holden Edmonds must have spent some considerable time in her research for The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick as I’m sure my limited knowledge spotted all kinds of implied and more obvious references to art, music, The Enlightenment, theology, mythology and science. This is a book that can be read on many levels.
I loved the fast paced plot and the way the book is structured so that past and present links are entirely believable. I never quite knew what might happen next to Oskar and now I’ve finished reading The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick I’m desperately hoping I might get to read more of his adventures in the future.
With notes of fantasy, humour and philosophy, The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is an absolutely smashing read that is quirky, entertaining and fun, and shows the reader it’s never too late for enlightenment or atonement. I really recommend it.
About Hattie Holden Edmonds
Hattie Edmonds has attempted many jobs, including junior assistant on Separates in Clements (of Watford) department store and chief plugger-in of cables in a Berlin recording studio. For ten years she was the London correspondent for the German pop magazine Bravo. After that, she became the in-house comedy writer at Comic Relief, working on projects with amongst others, Richard Curtis, Steve Coogan, Dawn French and Sacha Baron Cohen. Now she writes fiction full time and volunteers for the refugee charity Care4Calais.