Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sad, sweet and somewhat haunting, Evans debut novel tells the story of twins, Georgia and Bessi who share a loft at 26A
Waifer Avenue in a suburb. Reminiscent of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Evans absolutely nails the “twinness” of the sisters, enough to make me wonder if she is actually a twin herself. It is a rather sprawling coming of age story of sisters, '80s London England, mental and sexual abuse, ghosts, , sad families and flapjacks. Evans has a rather lyrical prose style and an intriguing ability to get in the heads of her characters and that is literally how the girls end up. She has a real feel for the pop culture of the time and a great ear for dialogue. Keep an eye on what she does next.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
This is definitely being marketed as lad lit but it’s a cut above most lad lit in that it’s not the usual formula—dorky but likeable guy who can’t grow up and/or commit, surrounded by lovable but eccentric pals and the wackiness that ensues until dorky but likeable guy actually does grow up and/or commits. First off, Laird has a vocabulary that had me reaching for the dictionary and it wasn’t just one of those “I’ll really impress them if I use ‘crepuscular’ here instead of ‘twilight’” moves. Second, his main characters, old friends from Belfast, Danny and Geordie, aren’t the stock lad lit characters. They’re both a bit more thoughtful and in touch with themselves. Danny is living in London as a somewhat successful lawyer but hates his job. Geordie, who stayed in Belfast and hasn’t really done much with his life, shows up on Danny’s doorstep unannounced with a sack full of stolen money that is actually supposed to fund a terrorist action by Ulster loyalists. Cue ensuing wackiness! Throw in your inter-office, inter-racial love affair, chances to do right by “the people” by thwarting big business and a rather hurried ending and you have Utterly Monkey. Despite the Belfast connection, I found this reminiscent of Robert McLiam Wilson’s delightful Eureka Street (anyone have any idea what happened to Robert McLiam Wilson?) though not as clever or as laugh-out-loud funny. Still, Laird’s writing is strong and amusing and he tells a pretty engrossing tale.