Alice in Brexitland

      Publisher: Ebury Press 

      RRP: £7.99

      Author: Lucien Young (as Leavis Carroll) 

      Published:  2017-06-01

 

 

 


Lying on a riverbank on a lazy summer’s afternoon – 23rd June 2016, to be precise – Alice spots a flustered-looking white rabbit called Dave calling for a referendum. Following him down a rabbit-hole, she emerges into a strange new land, where up is down, black is white, experts are fools and fools are experts...

She meets such characters as the Corbynpillar, who sits on a toadstool smoking his hookah and being no help to anyone; Humpty Trumpty, perched on a wall he wants the Mexicans to pay for; the Cheshire Tw*t, who likes to disappear leaving only his grin, a pint, and the smell of scotch eggs remaining; and the terrifying Queen of Heartlessness, who’ll take off your head if you dare question her plan for Brexit. Will Alice ever be able to find anyone who speaks sense?


 

Its satire is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.

 

A little outside GeekPlanetOnline’s usual fare to be sure, but fantasy nonetheless, Alice in Brexitland is (as you might guess) a parody of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. In this politically-charged lampoon Alice follows the White Rabbit down the Brexithole and encounters scenarios that are very familiar to readers from the classic tale, but with a Brexit twist. “Eat me” and “drink me” become “read me”, referring to thinly veiled imitations of the UK press, and Alice meets a variety of the classic Wonderland characters, with their new personas “inspired by” (and I do use that word advisedly) UK and world politicians.

This is a somewhat strange little volume, peppered with illustrations aping the style of well-known Alice illustrator John Tenniel, using caricatures of current prominent politicians depicted as characters from Wonderland. The style of the prose, poems and songs is very well done, mimicking Louis Carroll quite expertly and, mostly, quite pleasingly, and the topic of the EU referendum lends itself well to Carroll’s brand of literary nonsense – in particular the bending of logic and resulting illogic.

However, I’m unsure who this book is actually for. Neither side of the EU referendum campaign is portrayed in any way flatteringly, nor are the members of the public supportive of either side. The title is, at least, even handed, mocking all equally, and while it is somewhat satisfying to see your own most reviled politician portrayed as an egg or the Queen of Heartlessness, you’ll find the politicians you support don’t fare any better. The profanity used in parts, as well as the book’s very topic, renders this title wholly unsuitable for children and its satire is not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.  While it passes a relatively amusing half hour I felt somewhat uncomfortable to see such popular and influential characters twisted in this way; it runs very much counter to the sense of innocence which runs through the classic title, and feels a little disrespectful and unkind to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What is striking, however, is the ending, in which Alice awakens on the riverbank to discover that no such referendum was called, and a lady called Hilary is President of the USA. It reminds us, ironically, of the Caucus-Race in Wonderland, in which there are no losers and everyone is declared a winner; but in Alice in Brexitland one might suppose there are no winners, only losers.


GeekPlanetOnline.com