Burying Brian by Steven Pirie (book review).

Humour is a very transitory thing and each of us have a different idea of what we find funny. Our tastes change as we get older. Visual humour can be reasonably universal. Whether we want to, be all tend to laugh at the pratt-all, partly out of embarrassment, partly because we are glad it wasn’t us. Yet, as with all humour, there is a point of division where some of us consider the visual images either too silly or too cruel. With written or oral humour, the dividing line appears to be sharper. On one side, there is wit and an appreciation of satire and parody, on the other there is farce. Both kinds have their aficionados. Personally, I prefer the more sophisticated variety. It is therefore unfortunate that ‘Burying Brian’ is farce. There will be plenty of readers who like this kind of thing.


The set-up for the novel is surreal and uses folklore themes. In this case, it is the triple deity archetype of Mother, Maiden and Crone. Pearly Gates is an old folk’s home and every Tuesday, the Mother runs a bingo session for the inhabitants. Men are not to be trusted to take part and Brian is banished to the garden. Brian is the human husband of Maureen, the Maiden. He is regarded as rather an ineffectual character, so he is rather surprised when a garden gnome tells him he is chosen hero. Another set of characters are the team at the undertakers owned by Mr. Grim. This is a very necessary profession because the dead keep climbing out of their graves and have to be reburied. Currently, they are preparing for the Undertakers Ball. God is also contemplating returning to Earth, just to see what is going on, but this time as an old woman leaving Belial in charge of the afterlife. However, he is not as reliable as God thinks and sets about organising a coup. Then Brian goes missing and everything goes downhill from there.

The biggest problem in trying to review a book like this is to be on the same wavelength of the humour within it. I regret that I do not appreciate the effort that has gone into creating the blend of myth and slapstick. Others will love it.

Pauline Morgan

(pub: Immanion Press. 260 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK), $21.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-904853-71-8)
check out website: www.immanion-press.com

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