Ponthe Oldenguine is one part fictional biography of a former television impresario who claims he’s been hounded out of media history, and one part biography of the journalist commissioned to write his story. Where the tales merge, there is madness.
Madness? This book has it in spades. It is narrated by a journalist who decides to go undercover and sleep rough as that will surely allow him to find the story that will elevate his career to the lofty heights he dreams of. On the very first night he is approached by Ponthe, a man who has a life story or two to tell and wants the journalist to do so. Over the course of the book we get to discover these stories, and the effect hearing them and sleeping rough has on the journalist.
It’s hard to describe much of what happens in the book without spoiling the reading experience, this really is a book that needs to be discovered page by page. As I was reading it my feelings veered between feeling that it was downright outrageous and then all too believable, a somewhat unsettling read but one that’s near enough impossible to put down.
The characters in the book are vivid creations, I never felt like I truly got a handle on them but that actually added to the reading experience. Both Ponthe and the journalist come across as being somewhat unreliable in their narration meaning you find yourself questioning everything and trying to second guess where the plot may be going. I soon gave up trying to work things out and just enjoyed the ride.
I’m not sure that I’ve done a great job of reviewing this book, but that’s because I really want people to experience it for themselves. It’s a fairly quick read but it’s one that’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished.
Ponthe Oldenguine is published in paperback and eBook by Atomic Fez. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.