The Book with Twelve Tales by John Gallas REVIEW

The Book with Twelve TalesThe Book with Twelve Tales by John Gallas
Published by Carcanet Press
Published 1 August 2011 (first published 1 March 2007)
183 pages
Digital library book

Poet’s Good Reads page


The Book with Twelve Tales is a gallimaufry of stories: comic, frightening, exotic and magical. Here, in John Gallas’s richly imagined narrative worlds, are the American gothic of Morten Mortenssen, the pig who eats his owners; the sexual folktale of a comedy of Mongolian marriage; a fable of the power of the imagination as a poet is interrogated by a president. Then there is the terrifying Arctic potentate Zigismund Walrus in his nightmare palace of ice, and the true adventure of the author and Turkish rabies. Gallas’s exuberant language draws the reader into twists of plot and dialogue, through tales of evil and violence, love and generosity that reaffirm the power of humour and the value of shared wisdoms.


From Morten Mortenssen the Fat Pig

Morten Mortenssen was a fat pig
Which was rather the point
He lived in a paludal paddock
At the back of a cold bungalow
Somewhere down the road between
Norre Nebel and Norre Bork
Which was called Sausage Cottage…


The Book with Twelve Tales is okay but just wasn’t my cup of tea. If this had been a collection of stories I’d probably have loved the tales within. However, as a collection of poems I felt this didn’t quite work. I’m aware this is very much down to personal taste. I’m very fussy about poetry and what I like I don’t like. The Book of Twelve Tales (for the most part) left me cold. The poems are well written with clever use of language and imagery. They just weren’t to my taste. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love the kind of narrative poetry found in this collection but I felt so-so about them. I didn’t hate The Book with Twelve Tales, I just didn’t like it much. The most enjoyable poems were Rich, The Ballad of Lucy Razek and Ao the Kiwi.




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