Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Books – Six Lies, by Ben Adams

(Note: I was sent a free ebook by the author in exchange for an honest review).

After the death of his mother, Dave Fazackerley receives a letter from her. In this letter, after describing her pride and love for her son, she unlocks an old secret. From her death bed, she reveals that she is not Dave’s biological mother, something her and his father have failed to mention for the last forty something years. Distressed by his mum’s death and confused by his father’s past, Dave sets out in search of his biological mother. Meanwhile, he’s making a muddle of his personal life in his attempts to win over his ex-wife Louise, and discovering that his parents may not be the only people in his life who have lied to him.

Six Lies is Ben Adams’s second novel. It is, I suppose a rom com, with a side order of mystery. I kept on thinking of Nick Hornby’s About a Boy (although to my shame I haven’t read that, only seen the film), or perhaps the film Run Fatboy Run. I’ve certainly seen more films like Six Lies than I have read books like it. It felt like a gentle, funny, romantic comedy. Certain scenes – especially the end – are very cinematic. It is dramatic, engaging, and funny – both through Adams’s comedic narrator and, every now and then, at his expense. The book certainly has its cheesy moments, but they are all knowingly and lovingly written. The cliché is so completely embraced at points that you simply go with it, and just when Adams has fooled you into thinking you know what’s coming, a new development takes place. You can really tell that Adams is getting beautifully immersed in his chosen genre, and thoroughly loving every word he writes.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Short Stories – This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You, by Jon McGregor

About eighteen months ago, I read and reviewed Jon McGregor’s novel, If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things. It was one of those novels that staggered me, that left me haunted by its beauty, its elegant, its sheer power. If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things is a deeply moving and human account of the ordinary lives of the residents of one street on one remarkable day. It remains one of my favourite books of all time.

But somehow I’ve failed to pick up anything more by Jon McGregor in the last eighteen months. I’m not sure whether this has been a product of chance, or simply because I have so many hundreds of books I want to read – or perhaps because I so thoroughly loved and admired If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things that I was half afraid of reading something else by Jon McGregor, in case it would fail to live up to the superb beauty of that novel. And then last month I finally picked up his short story collection, This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You, and proceeded to nearly cry on the train because of the utter beauty of his writing.