Anthony Cummins

What the Puck?

The Great Night


Granta Books 290pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

This striking but ultimately cloying novel riffs loosely on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, recasting the action in Noughties San Francisco among the sort of people who steal wireless broadband signals and use the word ‘inappropriate’. Henry, Will and Molly have each lost their way trying to get to a party on the west side of Buena Vista Park. Henry, an oncologist who works in paediatrics, was abducted as a child and held captive for four years; his mother is a chronic depressive, his father has died of cancer, and his phobia of dirt has made his lover dump him in frustration. Will – a tree surgeon and writer – has also broken up with his partner, Carolina, whose brother, Molly’s boyfriend Ryan, recently hanged himself. While wandering the park, Henry, Will and Molly meet a bunch of vagrants at work on a musical adapted from the 1973 science-fiction film Soylent Green. Surveying all this – of course – is the faery kingdom ruled by Titania and Oberon, who are in mourning for their leukaemia-stricken changeling.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,
    • Unlike Mary Shelley's monstrous creation, Jeanette Winterson's Frankenstein-inspired novel feels 'barely alive', sa… ,