Who Here's Lost?

Ben Moor
Pleasance Courtyard

Ben Moor eating ice cream at dawn, London, January 2020 Credit: Andy Lane

Ben Moor is a great storyteller, but his stories are anything but straightforward, as they combine accute observation of everyday life with clever wordplay, touches of surrealism and a few moments of pure philosophy.

There is a thread of a plot holding this all together, but there are so many diversions from it and such a large cast of characters, some merely people to whom he has told his story before, that the diversions are at least as important as the plot.

After some initial anecdotes about him and his girlfriend—he tells us that ice cream is the foundation of a happy life, and who am I to disagree with that?—he gets drawn by his ex-wife into taking his ex-mother-in-law Dilys on a road trip to visit buildings that she once designed as an architect. She is looking for something in one of these buildings to leave to her family but doesn't know what it is. This trip could have taken years of weeks or even days—he is a bit confused on this point.

There is the mysterious mentions of "what happened" that changed his relationship with his girlfriend, some wonderful passing concepts such as the King Lear pinball machine and some more integrated concepts such as his 'could children', i.e. children he could have had, who have real lives and identities within the world of his stories. He also describes in detail his idea that everyone has inside them a monster and a garden in such a way that it makes perfect sense.

Moor has an engaging presence as he weaves together great tapestries of words that are funny, moving and profound, but there is probably too much to take in in one go, so perhaps you need to see it twice and/or buy the book.

Reviewer: David Chadderton