Calves in the Mud Room by Jerome O Brown was a great disappointment to me. Complete letdown. Ruined my night. Because I was sure it was going to be a proper length novel. And then it ended! Turns out it was only a novella! And that, after I’d fallen in love with the writing and was settling in for a serious read.
Brown’s prose is unrelenting
Brown’s prose is unrelenting. It picks you up, slams you against the wall and holds you there until it’s finished telling you what it wants to tell you.
Calves in the Mud Room is set in the US midwest, and revolves around the Valentine’s Day Sponge Dance, to which young Wade Summers has been invited by the girl that everyone’s in love with at school; the girl that he’s been lusting after for months; the girl who’s finally noticed him and has decided to give him his chance.
The quality of writing is simultaneously so rich yet so controlled
You can’t help but feel with the teenager as, excruciatingly, everything that can go wrong does…from cows giving birth in the driveway, his mom not letting him have the car so he has to pick up his perfumed date in a cowshit-caked pickup, turning up too late to pick up his fantasy girl…it’s endless – and the quality of writing is simultaneously so rich yet so controlled, that you are right there with him every inch of the way.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.