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Bibliographical Information
Mud Puppy
Erica Wooff
ISBN: 9780704347397 (0704347393)Publication Date April 2006
Publisher: The Women's Press, London
Format: Paperback, 277 pages Language: English Non-Stock Item - Ordered on request Our Price: £10.99   
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Erica Wooff's debut novel brilliantly juxtaposes the normal and the surreal. Witty, unpredictable and contemporary, it embraces science, suicide, art, neurosis and newts! As well as heralding a major talent, it puts Newport on the literary map.

Dyma nofel gyntaf Erica Wooff sy'n cysod yn gelfydd iawn y byd normal a'r swreal. Ceir yma stori ffraeth, annisgwyl a chyfoes, sy'n cwmpasu themâu megis gwyddoniaeth, hunanladdiad, celfyddyd, niwrosis a madfallod! Y mae hefyd yn gosod Casnewydd ar y map llenyddol.
On one level this book is about Daryl, a Welsh artist returning to her homeland after nine years in London. She had run away, to escape deep hurt and to find fame and fortune in the city. After nine years she realises that she needs to return to her roots, to find the answers she needs. It is also the story of the younger Ani, restless to leave her hometown to seek her fame and fortune in the outside world and the novel is narrated through both viewpoints, showing us both girls’ worlds through their different and distinctive voices. It also weaves around the discovery of a mud puppy or large salamander found far from its native habitat – a newt in Newport mud.

Like the estuarine mud, the book has many layers. As Daryl points out, ‘the surface of a mud bank is practically barren . . . just a few wading birds . . . yet if you peel back the top layer, inside is a different story.’ Woof’s story is richly layered with a fast paced narrative, gentle humour and colourful characters. It raises important questions of identity and broader issues of reality, perception and escapism. Humour and sadness mingle convincingly. There is an Elvis impersonator who has let himself go, but whose motto is, ‘anyone can pay homage to the king as long as they do it with respect’. Daryl also has to face loss and come to terms with the truth of her reality.

This is not a picture postcard Wales, although there is plenty about dragons, art and culture, hidden truth and infinity. She has ‘gone back to a land where they understand about roots, about story’. The story develops strength as it progresses and has a suitably rounded ending. It is an enjoyable imaginative work, originating in Newport mud but ‘not limited to time and space’.

Julia Roberts

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
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