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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Only an Alligator

Steve Aylett

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To purchase Only an Alligator

Title: Only an Alligator
Author: Steve Aylett
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002
Length: 133 pages
Availability: Only an Alligator - US
Only an Alligator - UK
Only an Alligator - UK
  • Accomplice Book 1

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Our Assessment:

B : the usual, beyond all the fringes Aylett offering

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Barcelona Review . 3-4/2002 Jill Adams
The Scotsman . 9/3/2002 Carson Howat

  From the Reviews:
  • "Itís a head trip and itís fun, and its sharp, canny sound bites -- a hallmark of Aylettís work -- can sometimes stop you in your tracks" - Jill Adams, The Barcelona Review

  • "(I)n his latest Aylett goes the whole hog and creates a whole Gormenghast-like world. (...) Itís endlessly entertaining bizarre pulp" - Carson Howat, The Scotsman

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Only an Alligator introduces what is clearly meant to be a series: it is billed as "Accomplice Book 1" (Accomplice being the setting of the book -- as well as, no doubt, an invitation to the reader, to become complicit in this undertaking) -- and the last words of the novel warn: "But there's more." For now, there is "only an alligator" -- and, in Accomplice, that ain't too bad.
       There's a helpful map at the beginning of the book, placing Accomplice comfortably between the Bloody Canyon and the Baffling Ocean. That seems to describe the locale of most of Aylett's fiction, with readers usually feeling they've wound up in one or the other after finishing an Aylett-book (or, more likely: being finished by one). Well, it's better than slogging through the Swamp of Eternal Enmity/Degradation -- though some readers have no doubt also wound up there.
       Times are tough in Accomplice -- as is most everything else. Citizens are "regularly injured or killed by small groups of doves." Many of the city's structures are made with boneseed, a truly gruesome but very impressive building material. Even the souls are bland: "I'm having to marinate them in the nerve nets for days to give them any flavour", one character complains.
       The central character is Barny Juno, a fairly simple fellow -- "a decision grafted on to confusion". He has a nasty troll-eating habit. And he has an alligator, which makes for some problems (but in Accomplice everything makes for problems).
       Among the antagonists (there are few protagonists in Aylett's fiction) is Mayor Rudloe who is most displeased by Barny's doings, as well as an assorted cast of odd and odder characters.
       The narrative moves along in a sort of story, but it's not straightforward fiction. The fun, as with most of Aylett's works, is in the details: the creatures (to call even the humans "human" seems a misuse of the term) and the language. The pages are filled with a futuristic, dystopic naturalism -- and a large dose of (admittedly dark) humour.
       And there are even wise words to be found here: "We have only the turnip of conformity to fend off our demons", one of the characters notes.

       It's not for everyone, but for those looking for wilder, intense entertainments -- and those who, like some of the characters, have their brains outside their skulls -- a visit to Accomplice might be just the thing.

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Only an Alligator: Reviews: Steve Aylett: Other books by Steve Aylett under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Steve Aylett was born in 1967. He has written several novels.

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© 2002-2010 the complete review

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