PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Set in a fictional time that somewhat resembles the turn of the last century, this is a dark, burlesque fantasy of Siamese twins. But these are Siamese twins with a difference, in that they are male and female; a scientific impossibility. Outcasts of society, Earl and Betty have scraped a living in an underworld of freak shows, across the Pond. Now they have returned home to Bigtown where they are given shelter by the local bordello owner, Mr King, an amputee with an eye for Betty. Here the twins meet a band of show wrestlers, including a consumptive who spits blood in the ring at the required moments, Spinks, the indefatigable dwarf who trains Earl in boxing, Tim the “coloured guy” whom the racist Earl learns to respect, and, finally, Uncle Rust, the morphine abuser, loveable, intelligent, loyal, who creates an exquisite “flea city”. When Mr King gets nasty these are the friends to whom the twins turn.
Compellingly written, this is a book that walks a delicate line between the grotesque and sublimely beautiful. Uglybugly is a deeply human book, which explores themes of responsibility for our fellow human beings. “Have you ever felt guilt for another person’s suffering?” Earl asks the self-satisfied citizens of Littletown.