Book Review: Gaudy Bauble

“A placebo is a medically ineffectual substance. But ineffectuals had been running this show”

Gaudy Bauble, by Isabel Waidner, is described as queer avant-garde fiction. Its cast of characters would be QUILTBAG if they accepted labels. Reading this book it appears few labels can be applied.

The story opens in a small, 10th floor council flat in central London where Bela Gotterbaum has been tasked with writing the script for a new 8-part television series, working title Querbird. The flat is home and workshop for director/producer Tracey B. Lulip who is preparing to film a pilot for Channel 4. The TV broadcaster routinely commissions diverse producers to provide innovative and representative programming. Most of their advance has gone to the Bela, a feminist, transgender activist, who then disappears. Two PIs arrive to investigate. Mayhem ensues.

A nearby ethical recycling agency for dead pets is visited. An accident with a prop results in a dental repair shop becoming involved. As filming starts the idea for Querbird is abandoned. In its place an independently produced and broadcast TV series will be created with the content evolving from the protagonists misadventures.

Much of what is described is slapstick and surreal with clothes playing a role, not just as costume. More important is the play on language and the visuals evoked. The cast challenge concepts of what a book character can be. The writing embodies atypical scenes and structure.

The 8 part TULIP.TV series makes little sense but this doesn’t prevent it growing an audience. Linear plot-lines and classic narratives could possibly be interpreted, as one character attempts at the end. This reader finished the book without understanding much of what had gone on. Given the playful nature of the presentation perhaps this is the point – the next big thing often emerges from the unconventional.

Would I recommend? Possibly to those who enjoy the kooky and experimental.

Gaudy Bauble is published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe Originals.

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