Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Knees Up Mother Earth by Robert Rankin

Review of Knees Up Mother Earth by Robert Rankin

For some reason I always prefer every other book by Robert Rankin. So, having not been too impressed by The Witches of Chiswick (to which Knees Up is the sequel – loosely: you don't need to read the former to enjoy the latter), I was expecting good things of his new book. I wasn't disappointed.

Rankin books only have one plot: the forces of evil are on the rise and it's up to a couple of unlikely heroes to save the day (and also the world). The heroes here are that now legendary brace of Brentford blokes, Jim Pooley and John Omally. Rankin's Brentford is a community as detailed, idiosyncratic and endearing as The Simpsons's Springfield. In Knees Up, the Brentford mythos intersects with the Cthulhu Mythos and the threat of Armageddon can only be negated by Brentford United winning the FA Cup.

The story takes us through the whole of Brentford's FA Cup campaign (and before this they haven't won a match in two seasons). They win through in match after match, and Rankin deals with the passage of time with aplomb. In chapter 34, it becomes clear that they are due to play Arsenal in the quarter-finals. Chapter 35 reads (in its entirety): 'Arsenal? Schmarsenal!'

Knees Up Mother Earth is very funny, with loads of laugh-out-loud moments. And, while Rankin is most well-known for his many running gags that crop up in all his books (it's a tradition, or an old charter, or something), there's plenty for newcomers. Like this: 'Big Bob Charker hummed an Old Testament ditty. It was the one about Moses riding his motorbike.' A footnote explains, ''And the roar of his Triumph could be heard throughout the land." Exodus (somewhere or other).'

One complaint that could be laid at Rankin's door is that his work is more for boys than girls. There's sexual innuendo along the lines of the Samantha jokes in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, and, like Tolkien, he doesn't really do female characters. But I hope that doesn't put anyone off, because this book is immensely good fun.

Categories: Literature, Reviews
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