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Adam Rivett

When it came to Iceland, Monty Python, as always, had the properly irreverent idea. Their version of Njal’s Saga was a horrendous case of interrupted narrative. It took ten minutes for their ‘very exciting Icelandic saga’ to get started, bogged down as it was in endless biblical begetting, and when things did kick off, the whole sketch unwittingly collapsed into an extended advertisement for a sleepy British town named Malden.

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Pitched awkwardly between mass-market romance and a literary novel, Musk and Byrne is a curious creation. Spending excessive verbal effort on a familiar and rather vacuous plot, the book never finds a satisfactory shape, and finally lacks a true purpose. Never intellectually thorough enough to offer an exploration of artistic identity, and not trashy enough to deliver tawdry thrills, it is both too well written and not very original.

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