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Audio Book Review


Cutey and the Sofaguard


Author: Chris Wade
Read by: Rik Mayall
Wisdom Twins Books
RRP: £9.99
Available 01 March 2011

Cutey and the Sofaguard is a new, twenty chapter, audio book, read by Rick Mayall from the original novel by Chris Wade.

The story opens with our unnamed hero stuck in a hospital lift, on the way to meet the love of his life, Phillipa. Unfortunately, he is also stuck with an old and not very communicative man. The frustrating boredom makes his mind wander back to his school days, where he had first met Phillipa. What starts off as a fairly normal tale soon twists into something far darker as Wade plays with concepts and imagery.

Chris Wade is a Leeds based writer, poet, illustrator and musician as well as a self-styled anarcho-surrealist who has previously published a book on the works of Malcolm McDowell (Malcolm McDowell on Screen) and combines writing and editing functions for Hound Dawg Magazine.

The landscape of Cutey is peppered with eccentric characters, from our hero’s father who likes to wear wedding gowns to the motley crew which make up his school experience. Overall, Wade has produced an entertaining shaggy dog story, with a surprise ending.

Don’t let the surrealist tag put you off as there is little of this on show, certainly not enough to make the narrative inaccessible, nor should thoughts of anarchy make you pass it by. What anarchy there is appears confined to the use of middling strong language, itself not particularly gratuitous given the nature of the main protagonist. Anyone expecting the equivalent of a William Burroughs audio book, with laughs, is likely to be disappointed.

The story has more in common with the work of Vivian Stanshall, especially Sir Henry at Rawlinson End although Wade has yet to come near to Stanshall’s pure comic inventiveness, preferring to rely on the unusual imagery alone, which misses many opportunities for real comic creation. Nor is the book used to examine any particular aspect of society, discounting the warped culture of the school playground.

The marriage between Wade's prose and Mayall’s own propensity to swear is one made in heaven, as Mayall turns out to be the perfect choice. He reads with an energy which grabs the listener by the neck dragging you through all twenty chapters. For good measure he also throws in a couple of voices, although there is one section where he loses his way a bit and forgets to switch his voice back to the hero.

Although not perfect, Cutey and the Sofa Guard has a lot going for it. Like Stanshall, Wade shows a love of language though unlike Stanshall Wade tends towards the profane rather than the poetic. Listeners who enjoy the playful side of surrealism will find a lot to like here.


Charles Packer

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