The Bloater

New Directions. Sept. 2022. 160p. ISBN 9780811234566. pap. $15.95. F
Redolent of Swinging-Sixties London, Tonks’s brilliant sex comedy reveals sobering depths beneath its flashing surface. A recording editor for the BBC, Min is consumed with finding a lover. Of course George, “the man I’m married to,” is out of the question, as is sympathetic confirmed bachelor Claudi. Her clever colleague Billy seems promising, but square in her path is Carlos, aka “The Bloater,” an operatic baritone whose outsized, fragrantly masculine presence she finds both fascinating and repellent. Min chews over such dilemmas along with astringent cheese sandwiches with her more self-assured but no less bewildered coworker Jenny. All of this is narrated via a dense web of droll observations that might seem profligate if they weren’t so stunningly apt, like a more manic Dorothy Parker. Min’s caustic wit scours away at the sordid physicality of the world, as betrayed by her gouty toe and the Bloater’s inescapable smell. As Claudi observes, “Really sometimes I wish to God there was some way out of it quickly.” (“It” meaning life.)
VERDICT Long a cult rarity owing to Tonks’s subsequent religious conversion and renunciation of her writing, the revival of this beguiling 1967 novel restores a truly original voice to the shelves; a must.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing