Book review: The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

This book begins with a lot of magical-realism: “on the coldest day ever,” a boy is born with a frozen heart, so the midwife (who seems to specialize in…steampunk science?  Seeing that the year is 1874, in Edinburgh) sets in a cuckoo-clock to operate his heart, a la Iron Man.  It’s exposed and everything.

But a few chapters on, when he’s ten, he befriends a couple prostitutes who give him a hamster and tell him to name it Cunnilingus.

Then I was utterly lost about what kind of book this is.

Sticking with the current popular superhero comparison, then: like Iron Man, the protagonist has a prosthetic assisting his heart to keep him alive.

But no suit, no brilliance or superpowers or wealth.

No particular skills at all, actually.

Just an obsession with one girl he saw for about five minutes the first time he ever left home, at age 10, and then the embodiment of a lot of the worst chauvinistic approaches to “love” and women.

It’s the kind of book where (spoiler) the “hero” doesn’t get the girl, and you think, “THANK GOD.”

As two-dimensional and stupid/shallow as she was written, even she knew better than that.

The best thing that can be said about the story is that two of the protagonist’s closest surrogate family members were prostitutes, and there was absolutely no stigmatization attached to that, so that was nice.

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