The Scarecrowby Published 01 Jan 1970
|Format||Mass Market Paperback|
'The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.'
Neddy Poindexter's sister, Prudence, has turned sixteen and is the prettiest girl in Klynham. Neddy can't protect her from the men in town, but can he protect her from the killer on the loose?
Part boys' own adventure, part small-town comedy and part horrifying thriller, The Scarecrow is of its own kind, an unexpected and irresistible masterpiece.
'One of the most unusual and original novels published in this country for many a long day' - Sydney Morning Herald.
"The Scarecrow" Reviews
The Scarecrow is a powerful crime novel, but instead of literature's typical rugged detectives, crooked cops, enigmatic FBI agents and classy women, the characters are a young brother and sister who find their lives affected when stories of a killer lurking around begin to taint their town.
A friend recommended this book. The first time I tried to read it, I hated it. I don't know why. It bugged me. I read a couple chapters then stopped. I tried to give it back to my friend and she say, "You hold onto it and pick it up later. I swear you'll love it." It sat on my shelf for 3 years. Then I picked it up again and LOVED it. It is a great story that kept me totally engaged. Funny how your head space at the time can change how you experience a book. I finally gave it back to my friend with a big thank you.
What a grimy, unpleasant book. Excuse me while I dramatically wash my hands of it now that I'm done with it.
Okay. So. The Scarecrow isn't a bad book, but there was a lot I didn't like about it. I suppose what muddied my enjoyment of it the most was the book's skeevy preoccupation (not to mention the protagonist's preoccupation) with the sex life of the protagonist's 16 year old sister Prudence. For me, Prudence was the only character worth giving a toss about, as the rest were too one-dimensional or unlikeable. Or both! The protagonist had his moments, but the scenario closer to the beginning that almost led to a [spoilers removed] pretty much soured me on him for the rest of the book.
Reading the book was also kind of unpleasant. It felt like a fever dream at times. It's hard to describe, but a lot of the events that Ned (Neddy, Eddy, whatever) recounts just seemed to mush into each other. Maybe that was my brain trying to process the book faster so that I could be done with it.
But really, it's not without redeeming aspects. The titular scarecrow had a great aura of creepiness about him, and the Lynch gang that torments Ned and his cohorts were kinda terrifying as well. They reminded me of this gang of boys that me and a friend happened upon one weekend while walking through the local primary school. Actually, we met the "leader's" uncle first. He told my friend "*Nephew's name* would love you" in an awful, leery, knowing voice that bewildered my friend and I then and still creeps me out now. We edged away from the creepy man but further into the school we happened upon a gang of boys probably 4 or 3 years younger than us, who surrounded us and kept trying to touch my friend's arse. We were semi-amused, but weirded out enough to head home, and the boys proceeded to chase us along the street, still trying to slap my friend's arse. Now, those boys weren't on the same level as the Lynch gang, of course. They were more like a proto Lynch gang. I forget where I was going with this anecdote. I guess my point will now be that boys had a creepy sense of entitlement back then and, duh, they still do now. Even the good guys in this book have that creepy sense of entitlement to intrude upon girls. It was weird. But not surprising.
2 1/2 stars.
A sensational book, full of crackling live wire writing, adventurous inventive vocabulary and a story stuffed full of vivid and wild characters. It's classic noir New Zealand style, and as fantastic and great as any pulp fiction I've ever come across.
Eddy is a small-town youth, son of a useless drunken junk dealer and nephew to an even more worthless scoundrel, Uncle Athol. Buoyed by his best friend Les and sister Prudence, Eddy manages to scrape by in the dusty burg of Klynham. When a scary necrophiliac bow-tie wearing magician worms his way into town, he's just another stranger in this strange little world. It's every man for himself, and every man for the luscious young Prudence, who can't help but attract all their attention like a walking magnetic teenage whirlpool. It's just funny enough, and just scary enough, and just outrageous enough, to grab your attention and hold it closer and closer to the final flame.
A brilliant, sometimes jarring mix of coming-of-age nostalgia, cartoonish horror and grim realism - a tale of lechery, alcohol, murder, rape, and small town charm. Think Ray Bradbury's slightly unhinged cousin. Neddy Poindexter's narrative is a delight, a bit innocent and naive with a tendency to exaggerate and a kinda disturbing fixation with his sister. Through him Morrieson captures that horrible, mulchy mysteriousness of sex when you're a 14 year old boy, and creates a vision of small town New Zealand which somehow feels both sentimental, disgusting and eerily magical.