Magazine article The Spectator

'The Captain and the Glory', by Dave Eggers - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'The Captain and the Glory', by Dave Eggers - Review

Article excerpt

A feckless moron is appointed to the captaincy of a ship, despite having no nautical experience. The Captain has a propensity to grope women and brag about not paying his taxes, and in his younger days he ‘had hidden in the bowels of the ship looking at pornographic magazines’ while his peers went to war. Once in post he fires the entire navigational staff and has the ship’s manuals jettisoned. A mysterious voice in a vent urges him to take ever more drastic measures against the ship’s population, whereupon a number of ‘swarthy’ passengers are thrown overboard to drown. Utilities and basic freedoms are privatised as the Glory descends into despotism. The Captain becomes a patsy of the ship’s most fearsome foreign enemies, with disastrous consequences.

Readers will soon discern parallels between Dave Eggers’s new novella and the recent political turmoil in the United States. A somewhat heavy-handed satirical work, The Captain and the Glory is narrated in the manner of a children’s story, complete with grisly embellishments. We are told that the Pale One (an avatar for Vladimir Putin) would not only murder innocent civilians but ‘occasionally eat them too, adding a special sauce, spicy but not too spicy, that he’d created himself’. This cutesy register is combined with bawdy riffs on the Captain’s sexual insecurities. He communicates with his supporters by posting misspelt missives on a whiteboard. In one of these he declares: ‘ALSO ABOUT MY P-NUS: MUCH BETTER THAN PREVIOUS CAPTAIN’S. …

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