Books by Bruce Robinson

THEY ALL LOVE JACK by Bruce Robinson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 13, 2015

"A ripping good read, strange, suggestive, and memorable."
A wild ride down the back alleys of London in the service of "Ripperology." Read full book review >
THE OBVIOUS ELEPHANT by Bruce Robinson
ANIMALS
Released: Aug. 1, 2002

"Imagine a town, in a country, where a simple thing like an Elephant had never been seen, or even heard of . . ." Husband-and-wife collaborators Robinson and Windham do just that in this thoroughly modern tale steeped in Old World tradition. A mix between The Blind Men and the Elephant and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the story centers on the attempts by the village innocents to name the animal. The elephant's enormous size leads the Train Driver to believe he's a railway engine; the Fireman mistakes the creature's nose for a hose; and the Dustman declares him a vacuum cleaner. Rendered in dusky country hues, Windham's humorous vignettes picture the possibilities. A sketch of the elephant inflated ("He is a modern type of refuse collecting machine) is especially amusing. Only Eric ("a little boy who was seven and three quarters and known locally for telling Tall Stories") knows the truth. Trouble is, no one will listen. When the townspeople send the Elephant to be examined by the Professor, Eric goes along for the ride. Here, banners frame the page. One shows a scientific diagram of the elephant; Bunsen burners, beakers, and test tubes make up the other. Turns out, naming the elephant is a test for the professor too; it's only with Eric's help that he remembers the word. Robinson's droll narrative—which draws on time-honored tales to create an altogether fresh text—is perfectly balanced by Windham's whimsical illustrations. This one's a good bet for read-aloud fun; older audiences will likely appreciate Robinson's skillful yarn-spinning. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE PECULIAR MEMORIES OF THOMAS PENMAN by Bruce Robinson
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 1999

An Oscar-winner for the screenplay to The Killing Fields, Robinson debuts in the novel with the hilarious and engaging story of a working-class British teen growing up in the 1950s. Book's end will bring explanations for the behavior of all, but at the start a person might well doubt it—when meeting Thomas Penman, for example, nearly 15 but still preoccupying himself with moving his bowels anywhere but on the toilet and wrapping the results in bags for the discovery and delight of others. This is a boy also (when not constructing bombs) who lies, spies, and eavesdrops obsessively—traits possibly inherited from his grandfather, who likes to —[creep] around in the attic with his penis out.— It's a credit to Robinson's Chaucerian skills and enormous human sympathies that he magically guides his material along the cliff-edge of slapstick and, without losing the least bit of its comic spirit, transforms it into the humane, subtle, and moving. Near the seacoast in Kent—with a passel of rather vile dogs as well—live Thomas and his sister Bel, their parents Mabs and Rob, and grandparents Walter and Ethel. Rob, tough and built as if of bricks, is a walking fuse of near-rage, while wife Mabs, sleeping on the other side of the house, guards her own secret silence. Dying now of cancer, grandfather Walter somehow survived WWI (his tale is unforgettable) but lost his one true love—a void in his life that gives him a special bond to young Thomas, this being the case for reasons that will grow clear at last as the boy falls in love, searches the past, gets into terrible trouble, thanks in no small part to his weasely friend Maurice and his outrageously stolid and ruinous parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Potts. Love, youth, and satire delivered with the verve and allure of, say, Amis—the real one, that is, not the modernized Martin, but lordly and hilarious Kingsley. Read full book review >