Mischief by Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson (http://christopher-wilson.net/9701.html) is the author of several novels, including – Gallimauf’s Gospel, Baa, Blueglass, Mischief, Fou, The Wurd, The Ballad of Lee Cotton, and Nookie. His work has been translated into several languages, adapted for the stage, and  twice shortlisted for the Whitbread  Fiction Prize. Wilson completed a published Ph.D. on the psychology of humour at The London School of Economics, worked as a research psychologist at UCL, The London Hospital and The Arts Council. He then lectured for ten years at Goldsmiths’ College, London University. He has taught creative writing in prisons, at university and for The Arvon Foundation.

Mischief is a brilliant satire in which the narrator is Charlie Duckworth, the adopted son of a respectable English couple. Charlie, however, is not your average English son. He is the last surviving member of a Brazilian tribe, the Xique Xique (or Zika Zika), found on an expedition by the zoologist Duckworth. Charlie is brought back to England and raised as the Duckworth’s own. He is not entirely human in appearance, though because he matures at a rate about one-third slower than humans this does not become obvious. He ends up six feet nine inches tall (when he slouches), his skin has a “translucent pearly sheen, betraying a map of veins beneath,” his fingers and toes are long and thin, like pencils, his penis curled like a corkscrew. That and his character traits (guilelessness foremost among them) make it hard for him to fit in with English society. Charlie’s parents are oblivious to his strangeness. He has a tougher time with others, especially of his age. Sent off to boarding school (to a fine institution appropriately called Lovesgrave) Charlie finds himself at odds with human norms. Guileless and harmless, he is particularly ill-suited for a boarding school environment. The latter, of course, is a training ground for the malicious life of adulthood in British society which he will soon enter. He recognizes the difficulty:

‘I am misshapen, mystified and misplaced. Naturally, then, I incite and entice. And my sympathy bears a portion of the blame. I am prone to smile at those in trouble, which they tend to take amiss’.

There is little he can do to help himself, given his character, and he suffers for it. Finally, finding out who (or rather what) he is, he attempts to return to Brazil. However, no one is interested in his extinct tribe. He goes to university (allowing Wilson room for an excellent send up of academic life, and student life in the 1960s) and slowly learns the lessons needed to adapt to human ways. Ultimately Charlie gets a job at a mental hospital. He finds love in another imperfect creature, and loses it as she loses her imperfection. Finally, he becomes like all those around him, a dark transformation Wilson just manages to keep this side of the bleak. Mischief is poignant throughout with sharp humour, each sentence a thoughtful prick. This is one large moral tale, allowing us, as the best satire does, to see the absurdities we live by. So seeing we might imagine how things could be better.

Enquire at your local library or consult http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mischief-Christopher-P-Wilson/dp/0233987134/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459674078&sr=8-1  for full bibliographic detail.


198 pages in Andre Deutsch

First published 1991

ISBN 978-0233987132


Christopher P. Wilson

Chris Wilson



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