Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel By Drew Gummerson.
Posted by Insertponceyfrenchnamehere on Fri, 04 Dec 2020
Big congratulations to Drew Gummerson for the publication of Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel.
Review by Mark Burrow
Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson is a fast-paced, funny and filthy novel. It follows the adventures of the hotel’s hapless dishwasher and his search for love and recognition, which repeatedly ends in varying kinds of humiliation, estrangement and oodles of regret.
The first thing that grabs the reader is the immediacy achieved through the author’s use of the second person, whereby “you” are the character.
“Like many adults who take a teenage obsession on with them into later years yours is Kafka. Or rather, the idea of Kafka.
For what is he but an idea?
In truth, you have never managed to finish one of his books.
‘But he didn’t even finish them himself in his lifetime!’ you will argue. ‘That Brod did it for him after he died.’”
There is a tenderness to the main character in his misguided, idiotic endeavours. When Cynthia, one of the hotel’s staff members, doesn’t turn up for work, a rumour circulates that she has been transferred to a glamorous location, such as Barcelona or Sydney. This is fuelled by a certain nameless nobody writing postcards and pretending they’re from Cynthia.
“Each week you sent a new card and watch with superiority as the other staff cooed over the soap opera you were creating.”
There is a lot of fun and laughter in these scenes, combined with a gentle pathos as the story progresses (Cynthia is found wandering a local supermarket, trying to steal vodka). Among the frolics, nudity, masturbation and fnarr, fnarr bum episodes, the author weaves in moments of real tenderness:
“An old lady sits by the side of the fountain. She has a walking stick with a lump of rubber on it. It is the saddest thing you have ever seen. That rubber will outlast her.”
The delusions and dreams of our tragi-comic hero made me think of a gay Don Quixote for modern times, stuck in an Alan Partridge’esque hotel. He is a complete failure, trapped in a workplace of insanity, but he retains an innocence and optimism which is captured in his hopeful refrain throughout the novel of, “Oh yes! Oh yes!”
This may be the tale of a dishwasher but there’s nothing kitchen sink about the prose. The hallucinatory, picaresque style reminds me of William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. The poet Allen Ginsberg referred to the scenes within that novel as ‘routines’, where an absurd idea, such as the talking arsehole, is played out for three or four pages, often for laughs. There’s something similar going on with Flamingo Hotel. It’s exhilarating to read.
That said, I don’t want to underplay the cohesiveness of the storyline. Drew Gummerson should take huge credit for how he has structured the novel and kept control of the narrative. He has been a contributor to ABCtales for a number of years, with two published novels (The Lodger and Me and Mickie James) already under his belt. For my money, his third is the best yet – the way he moves the plot along, combining absurdity while keeping a sense of gentleness, shows real skill and craft. The mix of short and long sentences also work well, creating a delirious, incantatory effect as this naïve fool pines to find somebody to love. The ending is deftly handled too, providing a satisfying finale (no spoilers).
In-short, if you’re looking for a literary antidote to the doom and gloom of 2020, something that’s easy to read, imaginative, bristling with energy, bottoms and belly laughs, then get yourself a copy.
Finally, it’s fantastic to know that Drew used ABCtales to post chapters of Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel before sending it off. By his own admission, he found huge value in the feedback provided by members in developing his book and, frankly, it’s lovely to see.
I’m certainly looking forward to the next one.
“Oh yes! Oh yes!”
Get your copy here: https://www.beardedbadgerpublishing.com/
(Kudos to Bearded Badger Publishing Co, a new indie press, for taking on the book and getting it out there!)