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Nobble Hospital of the Aegean

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Success Stories

by Paul Judges


Buy this book from Amazon

ISBN 1 905059 57 4
PABD, 2005
145pp, paperback
Retail price £9.99

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

If you read the cover blurb, you would take this book for a novel. It isn’t. What may have happened is this.

Paul Judges (if that is his real name) went on holiday to a small Greek island, where he accidentally broke his leg. While laid up in the local hospital, he started keeping a record of his experiences. He found this such a cathartic and worthwhile experience that he wrote down his feelings and even his erotic dreams as well as the details of his surroundings. Memories of other hospital stays and of a period when he worked in one sent him exploring the depths of his psyche, his hopes, fears and aspirations. He continued the diary for the rest of his holiday, and for a while after he returned home. Then he decided to publish it.

Everything works well except the last bit. If the story had been presented in true novelistic form, with some attempt at devising a plot, it might have made a satisfying novel. But it takes a great writer to make a diary interesting, and Mr Judges is not a great writer. He is a good writer, despite his irritating habit of separating sentences with a comma, and there is much in the book that is interesting and/or entertaining. Essentially, however, it is a pointless exercise. After release from hospital, the author takes us on a whistle-stop tour of every inch of the tiny island, complete with word-for-word conversations likely to be of minimal interest to anyone but himself. He recounts every detail of the journey home. On his return to Yorkshire, he feels a vague sense of discontent.

The title is mystifying. Although it is clear from opening the book that "nobble" is not a spelling mistake, the reason for this choice of wording is never explained. At first I was confident that it would be. I felt convinced that some earth-shattering event would happen to our hero while he was in the hospital, or that he would go through some mind-blowing experience, not just the mid-life crisis shared by most men in their early forties. I was very disappointed when it didn’t happen. It was no hardship to read the book to its conclusion, but in the end it was a fruitless quest.

There are good points about Nobble Hospital of the Aegean. It is humorous. It contains some inventive metaphors:

"…a mighty scream came from the corridor as my fellow patient toppled like the centuries-old redwood, crushing one companion like an empty milk carton."

It also contains some explicit passages of sexual fantasy that middle-aged men will no doubt find exciting. Overall, though, it is a façade. The book the author may have meant to write remains imprisoned in his subconscious; what we have here is no more than a pale imitation. Perhaps one day the real thing will emerge.

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