Posts Tagged ‘Mathias Malzieu’

The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu – Review

May 17, 2010

On the coldest day of the year a boy is born the unwanted child of a prostitute.  It’s so cold, his little heart does not want to work and to set it working properly, the woman who delivers the child, a woman of bizarre means and ways, graphs onto his heart a cuckoo clock to help the little heart find its rhythm, to help it beat in tune with time.

Of course, this premise has its own twist and turn to it, and it’s the journey to the playing out of this premise that makes this novel. While the love story between the main character, Jack, and a near blind singer, Miss Acacia, is the focus of the story,  a second and, ultimately, tragic love story quietly plays out beneath this, a love story of a different nature between Jack and the woman who had grafted the cuckoo-clock to his chest, Dr. Madeleine.

The romance between Miss Acacia and Jack have the usual obstacles, largely being Jack’s inferiority complex and the return of one of Miss Acacia’s former beaus, Joe, who was also Jack’s archenemy in public school. And, really, the love affair ends as you would fairly expect it to. But it is also this ending that brings about Jack’s knowledge of the truth of his heart and the ultimate destinies of every character in the novel.

There really isn’t a lot to mine from the story. Love is displayed in many forms throughout, but never really explored with any depth. There are Dr. Madeleine’s desperate motherly love for Jack, there’s Jack (and Joe’s) obsessive love for Miss Acacia, there’s Miss Acacia’s love which appears the truest but also one of the most abused, and Melies’s love for women in general and few women in particular. The book is chock-full of of love malformed, love unrequited and love abused. But it finds a way to still say very little about it.

Which is alright because it’s still a good little read for what it is. On a personal note, I was somewhat disappointed by the turn that befalls the main character. I thought it took something away from him, made him (and his story) pretty normal fare. I can’t help but think that the idea of a boy with a clock grafted to his heart, in some way tied to his physical being so that each is dependent on the other, could have been followed to richer spoils, but it’s not a total turnoff. Considering the novel stretches on for all of 171 pages, it’s fulfilling enough without being repetitive or boring while also offering no real illusions that it needs to be more than it is. So since it is something you can pick up on a Sunday afternoon and put away late Sunday evening, it’s not bad. I’ve seen that it is supposed to go with a music album by the band the author heads, but I have not heard this album or any other album by this group, nor do I think it is necessary to enjoy the story. It’s good for what it is which, unfortunately, turns out to be something without the heart that it thought it possessed.