Now I like a good long read as much as the next girl. I like to read an epic each summer, something like The Far Pavilions, A Suitable Boy or Gone With the Wind (all of which, yes), but what with this hectic schedule and whimsical nature of mine, I sometimes need something a little briefer and punchier. Something that will make me laugh and feel benevolent towards the world, and will also only take me an afternoon to read. It is this side of my literary tastes that has resulted in me owning the entire Pirates! oeuvre.
Now, I’m aware there’s a film. I haven’t seen it; I can’t comment. The books are excellent. Firmly rooted in absurdity, smothered in piraticisms and with plenty of ham, Gideon Defoe has provided a delightful series of voyages into the delirious heart of piracy. The Pirates! can be found in adventures with scientists, whaling, communists, Napoleon and the Romantics. The plot for all of these goes thusly: the Pirate Captain gets his Pirate crew into some sort of beard- or money-based pickle. The scarf-wearing pirate is sensible and wise, the sassy pirate is a bit sexy, the pirate in green, the albino pirate, the pirate who likes kittens and sunsets and all the other pirates enter enthusiastically into a Scheme or Plot, Jennifer is Victorian and Black Bellamy attempts to thwart them. At the end, all of the pirates sing shanties and eat ham.
It’s genius. The naivety of the Pirate Captain leads the plot but is beautifully offset by the more knowing crew and the sidesteps in and out of reality, alongside wild adjectives, extraneous chapter titles and unexpected cameos by famous figures of fiction and fact. It’s the sort of book that you could (and I fully plan to) read to small children and amuse everybody at once.
I would of course suggest grog with this book, if you happen to know what it is, but there are other options. A hearty, cheerful piratey drink is needed, something warming and pleasant. Let’s say, cider. As a cider drinker, I favour Orchards, widely available and not too sweet, but if you are lucky enough to have a local cider brand that stands up, have a pint and good luck to you. The book is suitable for children, the drink is not.
Book: The Pirates! In an Adventure with…, by Gideon Defoe
Pair with: a hearty, apple cider