TagWe Love This Book

We Love This Book reviews: Jamie Mason and Tom Standage

In my latest pair of reviews for We Love This Book, I’m looking at a darkly comic thriller that launches the new ONE imprint from Pushkin Press; and a history of social media that finds its subject’s roots to stretch further back than you might suppose.

Jamie Mason, Three Graves Full (2012)

“There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.”

In Jamie Mason‘s Three Graves Full, the man with the corpse in his garden is Jason Getty, who killed a conman named Gary Harris in the heat of the moment and hastily buried the evidence. We meet Jason as he is hoping the gardeners won’t come across Harris’s body. They don’t – but they do uncover two more bodies that Getty knew nothing about. These are the remains of Katielynn Montgomery and her lover Reid Tamblin, who were killed by Katielynn’s husband Boyd when he found them in bed together when the Montgomerys occupied Getty’s home. Now the police investigation will bring old and new players back to the house.

Three Graves Full can be divided into two parts: the first manoeuvres the main characters into place and reveals the broad extent of what has happened – even when the book is at its most amusing, Mason never allows us to forget the underlying gravity of the situation. The novel then turns into a breakneck chase which is as thrilling as one could wish; overlapping views of the same scene underline that there are partial perspectives all the way down. Mason explores what may happen when people seek to keep the deepest secrets, in a novel that deftly balances humour, action and contemplation.

(Read the original review here.)

Tom Standage, Writing on the Wall (2013)

According to Tom Standage, digital editor at the Economist, ‘social media’ has been around for a lot longer than you might think.

For most of human history, Standage argues in Writing on the Wall, information has mainly been shared between individuals, through personal networks. From this viewpoint, the 20th century’s centralised broadcast media, transmitting information to large numbers of people at once, are a historical anomaly.

I’ll admit I was sceptical about this book at first, concerned that Standage’s approach might be too anachronistic. In the event, I found it quite persuasive. The author goes chronologically through a number of examples, mostly from Western Europe, highlighting the similarities with contemporary social media. The Romans exchanged information through letters which could be intended for wider circulation; comments may literally be written on walls, and sometimes attracted replies.

Individuals at the Tudor court compiled interesting texts into their own commonplace books, rather like someone today adding content to a social media profile. The coffeehouses of 17th century London served as hubs for debate and the exchange of ideas. Even when the facts are familiar, Standage’s interpretation encourages us to look at the past in a new light.

Perhaps inevitably, Writing on the Wall loses a little of its interest when it reaches the development of the internet, because here Standage is narrating history more conventionally, rather than making those unexpected connections between past and present. But the book ends with a salutary reminder that information-sharing does not stand still, and we don’t know where its fascinating story will turn next.

(Read the original review here.)

We Love This Book reviews: Andrew Lovett & David and Hilary Crystal

Here are my two latest reviews from We Love This Book:

Andrew Lovett, Everlasting Lane (2013)

When his father dies, young Peter Lambert finds himself with a new life before he has had much chance to make sense of the old one.

Peter’s mother (now insisting that she’s going to be his Aunt Kat) whisks him away to an old cottage on Everlasting Lane in the village of Amberley. Kat tells him that this is his grandmother’s cottage, and that he has lived here before; Peter doesn’t remember that, but the house does seem strangely familiar. And Peter would very much like to know what’s in one particular room which is hidden away behind heavy drapes.

Andrew Lovett’s debut is partly a tale of growing up in the 1970s, and he populates Everlasting Lane with some memorable secondary characters who come into Peter’s life. These include his new teacher, Mr Gale, who comes up with his own insulting nicknames for his pupils (‘Lambchop’ in Peter’s case), and generally treats them shabbily – until a cricket match goes wrong. Most of all, there’s Anna-Marie Liddell, the pretty girl next door who is only a year older than Peter, but likes to act as though she’s far superior. She and Peter become something like friends; their relationship has a thread of uncertainty that’s very well realised.

The mystery of Peter’s new circumstances adds an extra dimension to the novel, a sombre undercurrent stemming from suggestions of tragedy in his family’s past. This turns Everlasting Lane into a dark riff on Famous Five-style tales of children solving mysteries. I’m not sure that the full force of the novel’s adult issues always emerges from Peter’s viewpoint as a child; but there is a clear and poignant sense that he is trapped in his own story. Everlasting Lane is an interesting coming-of-age tale which never quite settles into the shape you might expect.

Links
Original review
The publisher, Galley Beggar Press

David and Hilary Crystal, Wordsmiths & Warriors (2013)

In Wordsmiths and Warriors, linguist David Crystal and his partner Hilary take us on a historical tour of Britain to show us how – and, more importantly, where – the English language was shaped.

Each chapter of Wordsmiths and Warriors focuses on a particular place of significance in the development of the English language in Britain – from the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons at Pegwell Bay in Kent in the fifth century, through to Randolph Quirk’s Survey of English Usage, inaugurated at University College London in 1959. The book is a mixture of a historical accounts, anecdotes and illustrations from the Crystals’ own road trip. There are even directions to each site if you want to make your own visit.

There’s a lot of interesting material in here, whether you are unfamiliar with the history of English or, like me, studied it at one time then headed in a different direction (for those with greater knowledge, I’m less sure; this feels like a general-interest book). Amongst many other topics, the Crystals’ survey takes in the Paston letters; Robert Burns and the development of Scots; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Dylan Thomas’s contribution to Welsh English; and Roget’s Thesaurus.

The book is arranged chronologically rather than geographically, which (perhaps inevitably) reduces the sense of a journey. But the history is the main thread, and it is fascinating to view that history through its places, gaining a vivid sense of how the story of English in Britain moves (broadly speaking) from battlefields, castles and ecclesiastical establishments to scholarly halls and writers’ rooms. It remains a dynamic story, wherever it takes place, and the Crystals capture that dynamism superbly in Wordsmiths and Warriors.

Links
Original review
The publisher, Oxford University Press

We Love This Book reviews: Andrew Blackman and Daisy Hildyard

Here are a couple of interesting books that I’ve reviewed recently for We Love This Book.

Andrew Blackman, A Virtual Love (2013)

Jeff Brennan is an IT consultant with a knack for showing different faces to the world as circumstances require.

When he tags along on one of his friend Marcus’s environmental protests, he meets the beautiful Marie, who assumes Jeff must be a celebrated but reclusive political blogger also named Jeff Brennan, whom she admires. Jeff is only too happy to play along, and as the pair’s relationship develops his deceptions grow ever more desperate. To make matters even more complicated, Marcus is leaning on Jeff for favours in exchange for keeping his secret; and the other Jeff Brennan decides to find out who this Marie is who keeps leaving him flirtatious comments.

Andrew Blackman’s second novel is a fine study of identity and deception at the point where the online and offline worlds intersect. Blackman shows how Jeff treats lying to Marie as just another way of selectively creating a persona, and ends up digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole as a result. The novel tells a compelling story, but also reflects seriously on the nature of identity in the modern world. Jeff is not the only character to manipulate perceptions of themselves: Marie tidies up her online presence for him, and isn’t such an attractive personality to everyone.

The characters of Jeff’s grandparents serve as reminders that identities may be lost – with Arthur’s journalistic career long behind him, and Daisy’s very self taken by dementia – and as a means of comparing past and present. But perhaps Blackman’s smartest technique is to have all his narrators address their words to Jeff, so we never hear from him directly. Our impressions of him come from a distance, rather like the people taken in by his various personas – and the ‘real’ Jeff is lost among all the different versions of him.

(Visit the publisher, Legend Press.)

***

Daisy Hildyard, Hunters in the Snow (2013)

Daisy Hildyard’s debut is a patchwork novel about the patchwork nature of history.

The unnamed narrator returns to from London to rural Yorkshire to deal with the paperwork for the farm of her late grandfather, Jimmy – who was, like her, a historian. She reads Jimmy’s writings on four historical figures: Edward IV, Peter the Great, a former slave named Olaudah Equiano, and Lord Kitchener. Doing so sparks off the narrator’s memories, and those little stories intermingle with the broader sweep of history.

Hunters in the Snow is built to emphasise that what we may think of as history is partial, has been put together from fragments, and can be shaped towards different ends. Jimmy’s four accounts include acts of deception, in both events themselves and in their chronicling. Historical and more novelistic styles of writing merge and gain equal weight, as do the different kinds of stories being told. Jimmy has a magpie interest in history, and plenty of thoughts on its nature. As Hildyard’s afterword indicates, even the novel itself has been assembled from bits and pieces of haphazard research.

A downside of this approach is that Hunters in the Snow can sometimes feel like too much of a grab-bag, its ideas a bit too diffused because there are so many at play. And there is a detached quality to the prose that doesn’t always sit well with the more personal moments. But the sheer breadth of Hildyard’s novel is wonderful to experience, and the reader is left with much to think about.

This is certainly one of the most distinctive novels I’ve read this year. Although it’s assembled from many sources, Hunters in the Snow speaks firmly with its own voice.

***

See my other reviews for We Love This Book here.

Book notes: a debut novel and an artist’s memoirs

Wayne Macauley, The Cook (2011)

Zac is a young offender whose rehabilitation is to be sent to a rural cookery school run by a famous chef.

Here Zac finds his calling when he discovers the world of fine food. While others on the scheme fall by the wayside, Zac diligently pursues his craft, studying classical French cookery books; breeding his own lambs for his dishes. After leaving the school he is given a job as the private chef to a wealthy Melbourne family. Zac sees this as good practice for his dream of opening a high-end restaurant – but not everyone in the household is happy with the ethics of employing him.

The Cook is an interesting examination of class issues – Zac’s job might be seen as archaic servitude (he has to call his employers ‘Mistress’ and ‘Master’) but he thinks he can better himself with it. Wayne Macauley doesn’t give simple answers, but his debut novel is also a brilliant example of voice and viewpoint. You hear Zac’s comma-free gabble in your head and become so absorbed in his perspective that you start to lose sight of what’s happening around him. That is, until the ending, when the full implications of this partial viewpoint are revealed. The Cook has one of the most shocking and surprising endings I have read in quite some time. It puts the cap on a fine novel, and helps mark out Macauley as a writer worth following.

(This review also appears at We Love This Book.)

Antonia Gialerakis (ed.), An Unquiet Spirit (2012)

An Unquiet Spirit collects together the autobiographical writings of Antonia Gialerakis’s mother Hilary, an artist. I hadn’t heard of Hilary Gialerakis before reading this book, but her story as revealed in these memoirs is a compelling one.

Hilary Carter was born in Dorset in 1924; the first part of her writings, headed ‘Memories’, runs from then through to 1959. Hilary’s telling of her life begins in piecemeal fashion, a new event in almost every paragraph. Though the book soon becomes less episodic, we never lose the sense that these are recollections – there are gaps in Hilary’s memory, and there’s a certain impressionistic quality to the way she depicts the world.

As she tells it, Hilary’s life falls into a number of broad patterns: a peripatetic existence, moving between England and Switzerland (in childhood) or South Africa (in adulthood). A series of turbulent relationships with men who tend to remain on the fringes of Hilary’s life. Bouts of illness, periods spent in mental hospitals, visits to doctors and psychiatrists – but no firm diagnosis. Running throughout is a sense of restlessness (mirrored by the tone of the writing), and of art as Hilary’s anchor and refuge.

In the 1950s, Hilary meets Andre Gialerakis, the man with whom she’ll start a family. By 1974 (the time of the second, much shorter, ‘Diary’ part), she has given birth to Antonia, and the family have settled in Durban. In this section, Hilary expresses more concern over the effect of her behaviour and personality on those closest to her, and seems ever more determined to deal with her problems. By the end of her diary, it feels as though she’s taken firm steps towards doing that. It’s an optimistic end to a powerful life story.

Three tales

Mike O’Driscoll, Eyepennies (2012)

This is the first in a new series of novellas from TTA Press, the publishers of Interzone and Black Static magazines. Eyepennies is named after a song by Sparklehorse, the musical project of the late Mark Linkous, who took his own life in 2010 (and to whom Mike O’Driscoll dedicates the piece). O’Driscoll’s protagonist is not strictly a fictionalised version of Linkous, but he is a musician named Mark who’s had a near-death experience.

Mark has been beset by bad dreams and waking visions, and this has taken its toll on his life and relationships. He withdraws into his music, feeling that a new album will provide the breakthrough that can lead to stability. But, listening to his previous albums for inspiration, he can hear sounds and voices in them that shouldn’t be there.

Eyepennies is a fine portrait of a person under psychological strain. O’Driscoll maintains the ambiguity over whether Mark’s experiences are supernatural or delusional in origin (and, indeed, over whether that makes any practical difference). The novella’s fragmented structure (reaching back into different periods of the protagonist’s life) further underlines the diffuse state of Mark’s mind. This is a good start for the novella series, and I look forward to future instalments.

André Maurois, A Voyage to the Island of the Articoles (1928)
Translated from the French by Charlotte de Koch

First published in 1928 (and now given a new edition by Turtle Point Press), A Voyage to the Island of the Articoles is a novella chronicling the adventure at sea of one Pierre Chambrelan and his companion Anne de Sauves.

Though they intend to cross the Pacific, a storm causes the pair to land on the privately owned island of Maïana, where life is devoted to the arts. The island has two castes of inhabitants: the Articoles, who spend all their time creating artworks; and the Béos, who use wealth from the island’s copious natural resources to support the Articoles. Pierre and Anne are kept on Maïana for several weeks, to see if the Articoles can draw on the pair’s experiences and personalities for material.

As well as a tale of seafaring, Maurois’s novella is a study of the dangers of insularity. The Articoles have become drawn into art so much that they have disengaged with the world and lost their empathy – their idea of madness is to think about life rather than art. Pierre starts off in his own (less extreme) state of disengagement: metaphorically adrift in life, living only for the romance of the voyage (Anne wanted to accompany him for similar reasons). His experiences on Maïana lead him to take stock, and find new connections with the world and other people. Yet here Pierre is, writing a journal of his voyage, just as the Articoles would – so perhaps he hasn’t left the past behind entirely after all. A Voyage to the Island of the Articoles is entertaining and thought-provoking in equal measure.

(This review also appears on We Love This Book.)

Alison Littlewood, The Eyes of Water (2012)

This Spectral Press chapbook takes us to Mexico, where Alison Littlewood’s diver-protagonist Alex contemplates the gruesome death of his friend Rick. Far more skilled than Alex, Rick had been exploring one of the water-filled caves known as cenotés when something tore off his face. Alex learns that the Maya used the cenotés as places of sacrifice – and a vision of Rick encourages him to go exploring himself. There’s a nice sense of place about this story, particularly where the cenotés are concerned. Littlewood also constructs her plot skilfully, managing to tick all the event-boxes one expects to be ticked, whilst still leaving space for the denouement to head somewhere else.

Book notes: Tarun J. Tejpal and Ryan David Jahn

Tarun J. Tejpal, The Story of My Assassins (2009)

The first that Tarun Tejpal’s protagonist, an unnamed investigative journalist, learns of the attempt on his life is when he hears that the Delhi police have captured his would-be assassins.

He is placed under police guard whilst still unsure of what exactly has been going on. Tejpal’s novel then alternates between the protagonist’s struggles with his magazine and relationships, and stories of the killers’ backgrounds. The panorama revealed is altogether broader and more impersonal than our man could have suspected. The tales of the assassins show the various ways they were drawn into crime by circumstance. One discovered as a boy that he was handy with a knife, and saw that as his means of getting on in the world. Another was a timid underachiever until he fought back against one of the padres at his English-language school, and then found his true talent among gangs rather than in the classroom. All have ultimately been moved around by forces beyond their control.

And, as he learns more, the journalist learns that something similar has happened to him – that this is about something more than just a plot to kill him. Tejpal mirrors this theme in the structure of his novel: self-contained sections reveal more than one person could know. The Story of My Assassins adds up to a wide-ranging portrait of people trying to make something of life, if it doesn’t get made for them first.

(This review also appears at We Love This Book.)

Ryan David Jahn, Low Life (2010)

I don’t know quite why it took me so long to read another Ryan David Jahn novel after I so enjoyed his debut, 2009’s Acts of Violence (aka Good Neighbors). But now I have, and I won’t be leaving it so long again. Where Acts of Violence explored why a disparate group of people might refuse to help an attack victim (with the inevitable result), Jahn’s follow-up is almost the reverse. Low Life focuses tightly on one individual trying to puzzle out what’s happening to him, and the outcome is far from certain.

Simon Johnson is marking time at 34, with a dead-end job and no social life, when he’s attacked in his LA apartment. He fights back and kills the intruder, only to see that the man bears a striking resemblance to himself. Identification on the body reveals that this was one Jeremy Shackleford, who turns out to have been a mathematics lecturer. Why would he possibly have wanted to break into Simon’s home and kill him? To find out, Simon adopts Shackleford’s identity – and the lines between his two personae start to blur.

In Low Life’s early stages, Jahn skilfully evokes the bleakness of Simon’s existence. The novel then comes to focus more on its protagonist’s personality – the title refers to dark thoughts that a person may have but would never normally act upon; Simon finds himself becoming more and more consumed by this ‘low life’ of his. The reader’s journey with him is disturbing and thrilling by turns, as we wonder how far Simon will go, where this will all end up – and how much is even real.

Book notes: Terry Pratchett and Evan Mandery

Terry Pratchett, Dodger (2012)

Terry Pratchett visits Victorian London for his latest book. Dodger, a young sewer scavenger, sees a girl escaping from a coach and saves her from being beaten by the two men she was travelling with. This incident is witnessed by Charles Dickens, ‘Charlie’, who becomes a friend to Dodger, and social reformer Henry Mayhew, who shelters Simplicity, as the girl comes to be known. Several events increase Dodger’s notoriety, including his exposing the truth about Sweeney Todd, and he finds himself moving in loftier circles. He also discovers that there are people after Simplicity and an ingenious plan is needed to thwart them – an ideal job for someone like Dodger…

Pratchett brings the atmosphere of his London to life, conveying not just the difficulties faced by his characters through poverty, but also the ways they might survive (or not – his portrayal of Sweeney Todd as a damaged individual is especially vivid). The plot of Dodger doesn’t quite succeed: the antagonists remain too shadowy to have a full dramatic impact. But running through the novel are themes of pragmatism and appearances being deceptive, and here Dodger shines. Charlie understands that Dodger may be able to investigate events in ways which are valuable but not open to others. Dodger himself sees the manoeuvres of politics as not being much different from those of the street. And deceptive appearances are the foundation of the plan to save Simplicity, which gives Pratchett’s novel its fine finale.

(This review also appears at We Love This Book.)

Some other reviews of Dodger: Things Mean a Lot; Simon Appleby for Bookgeeks.

***

Evan Mandery, Q: A Love Story (2011)

An (unnamed) New York academic and writer meets one Quentina Elizabeth Deveril (also known as Q), and promptly falls in love. The pair of them start dating, and find they’re just right for each other. Wedding bells look set to chime… until our man receives a note from himself, asking him to meet for a meal. He goes there, to find his sixty-year-old self, who has apparently travelled back in time to warn the younger him against marrying Q. The two of them, his future self says, will have a son who dies young from an inherited illness, and that will destroy Q. The protagonist decides to call the wedding off, and moves on with his life – but different future selves keep coming back in time to dispense their advice.

Q is Evan Mandery’s third novel; perhaps the first thing one notices is that it’s written in a rather mannered way that pushes it to one side of reality. This technique leads to some fine comic moments, such as the narrator’s and Q’s date on a bizarre miniature golf course, or the time they go on a protest march against a construction project, dressed in vegetable costumes. It also gives the protagonist’s exchanges with his older selves an effectively deadpan tone. But the same style sometimes leaves events without a full emotional grounding – sometimes Q reads too much like a joke.

The narrative thread of Q is full of digressions on subjects ranging from Sigmund Freud’s study of eels to The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; these illustrate the book’s theme of what-ifs and alternatives. As time goes on, our narrator has cause to reflect on what’s important, in life and history; Mandery shows how the most important things are not always what we think they are at the time. The main plot runs like a whirlpool, as the visitations from time travellers become more and more frequent, and the novel heads ever closer to absurdity – until the ending, which is pitched just right, and is really quite affecting.

Any Cop?: Mandery’s style walks the line between annoying and charming, and doesn’t always stay on the right side. But, once you get into the swing of Q, it works. It’s worth a look.

(This review also appears at Bookmunch.)

Some other reviews of Q: A Case for Books; Glorified Love Letters; Raging Bibliomania.

A little corner of We Love This Book

If you’re reading this in the UK, you can now pick up the second issue of We Love This Book magazine from libraries and independent bookshops (or you can take out a subscription). There’s a lot of stuff in there, including Erin Morgenstern talking about The Night Circus; Ranulph Fiennes choosing his favourite books; a short story by Booker-longlisted Alison Pick; and a feature on music biographies.

And I must mention page 65, where’ll you’ll find some bloggers’ recommendations of non-fiction books: Jen from The Lady Loves Books on How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran; Pinda, the Bareback Reader talking about Simon Garfield’s Just My Type — and me, saying a few words in praise of Joe Moran’s On Roads.

Book notes: Kurkov, Cornwell, Dunthorne

Andrey Kurkov, The Milkman in the Night (2009/11)

Ten years on from the English-language publication of his debut, Death and the Penguin, comes Andrey Kurkov’s ninth book. The Milkman in the Night (translated from the Russian by Amanda Love Darragh) tells of three main characters whose lives intertwine in contemporary Kiev: Dmitry, the airport sniffer-dog handler who finds a case of ampoules containing a substance which has a remarkable effect on those who consume it; Irina, the single mother who sells her breast milk for a living; and Semyon, who finds that he has been out walking at night with no memory of doing so – and his business partner’s report from monitoring those journeys only leaves Semyon with more questions.

For all the strangeness in its pages (and it’s by no means confined to the three protagonists), The Milkman in the Night has a strongly deadpan quality, both in the reactions of its characters to events, and in Kurkov’s prose. This turns out to be both a strength and a weakness of the novel: on the one hand, it creates an effective contrast which draws the reader in by making one want to know just where the book’s going next; on the other, it puts a certain distance between reader and characters which makes engaging emotionally that bit more difficult. But the structure works well, a series of short chapters that shift between viewpoints, creating a narrative skein that gradually reveals the connections between characters, and a truth that may or may not be fully uncovered.

This review first appeared at We Love This Book.

Guardian interview with Andrey Kurkov.
Reviews elsewhere: Marina Lewycka for the Financial Times; Tom Adair for The Scotsman.

Hugh Cornwell, Window on the World (2011)

The first novel by singer-songwriter (and former Stranglers frontman) Hugh Cornwell is the story of Jamie Thornberry, a botanical writer who becomes infatuated with an artist named Katherine Gaunt whom he meets at an exhibition. He buys one of her paintings at auction; hears of another one in Paris and buys that; then tracks down a third to a Paris apartment, and takes it for himself. Jamie becomes determined to collect Katherine’s works; his methods for doing so grow more extreme – and he may be just as obsessed with the artist herself.

Window on the World is a fine character study. Cornwell initially portrays Jamie as reasonable enough; even when he steals a painting, we can rationalise it as an aberration brought on by the sudden intensity of his love for Katherine’s work (and even the protagonist seems to recognise he’s done something wrong and out of character). But, as time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to explain Jamie’s action’s away like that – and there’s a brilliant perceptual shift towards the end which reveals that Jamie may not be such a reliable narrator after all. It’s the kind of narrative move that makes one want to go back to the beginning and re-read to see what other clues there were, what other stories were told without our realising.

Hugh Cornwell’s website
Extract fromWindow on the World [PDF]
Quartet Books

Joe Dunthorne, Submarine (2008)

I enjoyed hearing Joe Dunthorne read from his second novel, Wild Abandon, earlier this year; but I’ve decided to start with his debut before going on to that newer book. So: Submarine is narrated by Oliver Tate, fifteen years of age in mid-1990s Swansea. He’s discovering long words and girls (in particular Jordana Bevan, who likes to set fire to things, and came on to Oliver at least as much as he did to her). But Oliver senses problems at home, because he’s found an empty bottle of antidepressants in his father’s waste-bin, and is suspicious about his mother’s going on a retreat where an old (male) friend will be teaching capoeira.

I warmed to Dunthorne’s prose style and observation from the very beginning, when Oliver describes a modem as ‘playing bad jazz’. The narrative voice as a whole rings true, the fancy words and facts peppered throughout symbolic of a young man who’s smart but still unsure of his place in the world (we see this particularly strikingly when Jordana tells Oliver that her mother has a brain tumour; all his words are no help in reacting appropriately).

That sense of being only halfway there is also present in how Oliver reacts to events in his life; he instinctively understands something of what’s going on around him, but doesn’t grasp all the subtleties, and that means things don’t always work out as well as he’d like. Now I really want to see the film of Submarine, because I can imagine some of these scenes playing out really well on screen, such as when Oliver goes to the retreat to find out what his mum is really up to, or when he tries to ‘help’ with Jordana’s dog.  All in all, this is a great debut; and now I’m looking forward to Wild Abandon even more.

Joe Dunthorne’s website
Wales Online video interview with Dunthorne
Reviews elsewhere: Chasing Bawa; Tim Adams for the Observer.

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