Monday, February 25, 2019

Review - Marmalade

by Sonja Cheal
Date: 2003
Publisher: East of the Web
Reading level: C
Book type: short story
Pages: 7
Format: e-book

A very lazy cat who only eats baked beans learns a valuable lesson.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is so bad, it's almost funny. Almost. But I do feel kind of bad for the author because someone allowed her to publish this and put her name on it.

To begin with, the story is stupid. It's about an anthropomorphized cat named Marmalade who eats nothing but baked beans that grow on his baked bean tree. So we've got an obligate carnivore eating nothing but legumes... Anyway, the tree, feeling neglected, runs away, and most of the story is taken up with Marmalade going for a walk and trying to find it. You can see that the author is trying really hard to make it like a children's story, incorporating repetition in the text, but it just doesn't work. The punctuation is so awful as to make the story almost unreadable in places, and I have to wonder if the author has ever read a book in her life! Has she never noticed how dialogue is punctuated?

Anyway, after the cat finds his tree crying in the park, he somehow convinces it to come home (this is told in an off-screen sort of way, so I don't know how the cat convinced the tree to return to endure some more neglect). Months later, we find out that the cat got tired of taking care of the tree, so he eats nothing but meatballs now... and chopped up the tree for firewood at some point.

What's the freaking point of this story? It tries way too hard to be a quirky children's story, and it fails miserably. East of the Web supposedly edits their stories, but I call BS on that claim in this case:

"Hello, Marmalade. What's the matter? You look angry." Dougbert asked.

"No, I haven't." replied Terrance, "Have you been feeding it plant food and fertiliser to keep it strong and healthy?"

"Um, hello tree." Marmalade said, a little awkwardly. "I've been looking for you absolutely everywhere!"

"Well, you've found me. You can go home now." Replied the tree.

Out of the park "Hello Bernard!", past the bus stop "Hello Terrance!" (Still waiting for the never-on-time-number-49), past the grocers "Hello Roger!" (Won't have to eat your baked beans - thank goodness), down the alley "Hello Dougbert" (go find another alley you nosy cat) and finally back home.

Oh, and if you're going to write a story all about baked beans, make sure you don't have any typos that read "beaked beans".

The story starts out by warning the reader not to continue if they're at all squeamish. I thought for sure there were going to be fart jokes. I mean, it's a story about a cat who eats nothing but baked beans! But, no. Apparently, we're supposed to be squeamish about a tree getting cut up for firewood. I'm afraid the only thing that made me feel sick to my stomach was the writing and punctuation.

As for the synopsis... what lesson did he learn? He killed the tree that he spent years neglecting because he was too lazy to take care of it. Unless the lesson was that cats should be eating meatballs rather than baked beans...

Give this one a pass (unless you're morbidly curious about how bad a short story can be).

Plot: 0/5
Characters: 0/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 0/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall Rating: 0.43 out of 5 ladybugs

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