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The Gritterman by Orlando Weeks was sent to me for review by the Amazon Vine review programme.

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Apparently, Orlando Weeks used to be in the band The Maccabees, whose song Toothpaste Kisses is rather charming. This is by the by except that I also found The Gritterman rather charming.

It tells the story of The Gritterman from the title, in his own words. He’s elderly and his world now consists of selling ice cream in the summer, but always dreaming of his favourite season, winter. In winter The Gritterman turns his ice cream van into a gritter, and gets to disappear into the snowy landscape with his thoughts.

This particular winter will be his last gritting the roads. He is being made redundant, and as the Gritterman sets off on his final journey he has some serious thinking to do.

This is sad and whimsical, with more than a hint of Raymond Briggs about it. I loved the illustrations, also by the author. He does a masterful job of creating the perfect sense of isolation and softness that the snow brings, blotting out the sharp lines of the world and creating a new, kinder landscape, but which never lets you forget the sharpness lurking underneath it.

The book can be paired with a twelve track album, also by Orlando Weeks, which is an acoustic journey into the world of the Gritterman, and includes the text as a spoken word performance over the music.

 

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