Saint Frank, by Conor Jack Creighton
Conor Jack Creighton
Dr Dolittle’s knack of talking to the animals is generally considered a nifty skill. Frank, the title chap in Conor Jack Creighton’s debut, is right in there. He chitter-chatters with the dogs, the birds, the lizards et al, and he too is up to pulling quite stunning strokes. To survive his competitive family melee, our hero, the youngest of 13 siblings in a squalorous farm somewhere in the sludgy backwoods, becomes allied with the beasts. This also provides aid and defence against the brutality of his father. When his gorgeous, intelligent first cousin Pom Pom appears – powder fresh and brainy bright – his life achieves purpose. All further decisions and his subsequent diverse and perverse adventures are for the good of Pom Pom and their life together. Questions of interfamilial unseemliness are skimmed over. This is a harsh but charming and uncomplicated tale, with an almost crude folk-tale ambience. There is also a satisfying complexity hiding under every slithery stone. Hans Christian Anderson would have approved.