Book Review: ‘Room Service’ by Frank Moorhouse May 27, 2011Posted by pacejmiller in Book Reviews, Reviews.
Tags: books, fiction, Francois Blase, Frank Moorhouse, george costanza, Larry David, Novel, Room Service, Room Service review, Short Stories
I’m a big fan of comic writings and I have been reading a fair bit recently because I am trying to write a comedic novel myself. One of the recommendations from my supervisor was Frank Moorhouse, a gifted Australian writer I can certainly learn from.
I picked up one of the thinnest Moorhouse books I could find from the library, Room Service, a collection of short stories and essays first published in 1985 and predominantly featuring Moorehouse’s alter ego, Francois Blase.
Room Service is seriously funny stuff, particularly the first few pieces. Blase is a quirky, neurotic, somewhat disturbed individual who gets himself into bizarre and compromising situations. In many ways he reminds me of a less abrasive, classier George Constanza or Larry David, both of whom I adore.
The first piece, for example, is all about how Blase, not wanting to pay for ice that is always half melted by the time it gets to his hotel room, leaves his beers outside the window and then suspects the hotel staff of purposely altering the beers’ position so that he will accidentally knock them off the ledge.
There are many other hilarious pieces, such as one about Australian vs Chinese culture and stereotypes and another satirical piece on the love affair between Australian men and sheep throughout the ages.
Each piece is self-contained (and I discovered at the end that most of them had already been published elsewhere separately) and crafted with a keen eye for detail and punchlines that you don’t always expect. Moorhouse has this uncanny ability to be self-deprecating while retaining a dead seriousness about his justifications and world views.
What impressed me the most was his ability to create so many varied pieces, many with completely different styles, but somehow making them all fit together in this tight little book (around 174 pages).
That said, I wasn’t captivated by every piece. As often is the case with collections and anthologies, there were a few a simply didn’t get or enjoy, and there were some others that didn’t sustain my interest the whole way through.
3.5 out of 5