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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 14 February 2020

"Stories we could tell" by Tony Parsons

Parsons, who also wrote The Family Way, and My Favourite Wife, started his writing career as a journalist for the music paper NME interviewing The Sex Pistols, Blondie, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie amongst others. He therefore lived the background to this novel.

Stories we could tell tracks three music journalists over the course of a single night in London, the night the Elvis died. Ray has to get an interview with John Lennon if he wants to keep his job. Leon is on the run from the Dagenham Dogs who have taken exception to one of his reviews. Terry's girlfriend Misty has gone off for the night with rock star Dag. Written from the perspective of each of these three young men, their entwined adventures are set against a backdrop of live acts in basement night clubs, squats, drugs and sex.

The discipline of making everything happen on a single night and the undoubted depth of background knowledge made this book a more intense experience than The Family Way. Sometimes the dilemmas facing the characters are laid out in a rather too rational manner. For example, each of the young men encounters their father during the night and these meetings are used to explore the way in which the young rebel against their parentage; this feels a little too systematic, as if the plot has sprung from the author rather than the characters which of course it has but a novelist should more successfully hide behind the illusion they have created.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this book and I turned its pages quickly. Parsons is particularly good at encapsulating character in an epigram:

  • "Sir, used like a weapon." (C 1)
  • "he could not stop himself from making his hotel bed in the morning." (C 2)
  • "Dag Wood looked like a recently deceased bodybuilder." (C 3)
  • "You think these people are going to change the world? Take a good whiff. They have trouble changing their socks." (C 4)
  • "the sound of the suburbs in her voice" (C 7)
  • "Sooner or later you have to decide if you're a writer, man, or just a groupie who can type." (C 12)
  • "In those brief moments of freedom that came your way, wou were always looking for a way to not be free." (C 12)
  • "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is irritation ... Did true love really have room in it for irritation?" (C 16)

One of the characters remembers seeing The Rolling Stones "at the club where they started ... The Station Hotel, Kew Road, Richmond" a hostelry in which I sometimes had a pint, though somewhat later than its glory days.

A good read. February 2020; 309 pages

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