In Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse, we meet Futh, an Englishman on vacation in Germany. Futh has been thrown out by his wife. Or to be more exact, she has rented him a flat and moved him into it.
This sums up Futh. He is that most clichéd of Englishman, the meek little man hanging on for dear life. I believe it was Pink Floyd who sang “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”
Futh is summed up by my favorite moment in the book:
He takes out his snacks and eats them for lunch. Seeing some ducks, he breaks up a bread roll and throws the pieces into the water, but the ducks don’t notice and the bits of bread are carried away by the current.
Not even the ducks notice our poor hero.
Futh arrives at the aptly named Hellhaus (yes it means something else entirely, but it’s no coincidence) to begin his circular walk of the German countryside. He walks in the door and enters the psycho world of Ester and Bernard, the proprietors. Their dysfunctional marriage may put Futh’s to shame.
Futh’s odyssey goes from bad to worse, until he returns to a shitshow* of unimaginable proportions, and ultimately a somewhat unsatisfactory ending.
I’m a sucker for a Homer-esque road story, and it’s only this ending that knocks The Lighthouse down to 4 stars.
That notwithstanding, The Lighthouse is my choice for the Booker Award. It may be taken as an indictment of the judges’ choices for the short list that my top choice is only a 4 star book.
* Unrelated: how excited am I that my iPhone recognizes and accepts “shitshow” as the necessary and useful word it is.