This book is a gem in more ways than one. Embarking on the Mooreathon with Lizzy, I wanted to read all of the books on offer. This one is the most expensive to buy used. And used is the only way you can get it. So, not wanting to spend £10 or more on a copy from 1987, I ended up with an old musty copy from 1970. The price in the U.K. is listed as 5/-. I have lived in the UK a long time, but I don’t know what that means. Helpfully, there’s also (25p) listed. It was 80c in Australia, 75c in New Zealand, and 60c in South Africa. But I digress.
The title of this book refers to a poem of the same name by Wallace Stevens. There are a few lines of that poem quoted within the book, but if, like me, it doesn’t make much sense to you, don’t worry. Moore may have wanted to make some sort of statement with that reference, but if he did it’s lost on me, and there’s plenty more that I do understand.
The Emperor of Ice-cream is mostly a story about a young man named Gavin. He’s bored with school. He doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and is at the point where he needs to make decisions about it. He thinks his parents don’t understand him, and he’s not sure he likes them much. Pretty much every 17 year old in the land, but there is never a dull moment for the reader. Gavin is flawlessly presented, along with his dual alter-ego black angel / white angel. But it’s not only Gavin who is portrayed so well. We get insight into the personalities of many other characters. How does Moore do it, in only 190 pages?
In short, this book is near perfect. The end ties together a bit too neatly if you take it too literally, so I decided not to.
I highly recommend this book. It’s up there with Judith Hearne. In fact, I think it’s surpassed it; high praise indeed.