My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Can a man obsessed with punctuation find love? Can a man who finds that love keep it? Can that man avoid possible litigation and potential prison time?
Tom Conrad doesn’t quite answer these questions, but even if he did, I wouldn’t tell you. You have to read the book.
Like many books, I picked this up on a whim. I’ve enjoyed Conrad’s public musings and quips via Twitter and his blog and there comes a time when a man needs to be a man and download a book and dig in. And if he’s a TRUE MAN, he reviews it on his blog that also features sensitive poetry.
This novella is a darkly humorous introduction to Conrad’s Frankie Drake, a struggling and somewhat easily intimidated aspiring writer (and the star of Conrad’s full length novel That Coxom and Blondage Affair). When he meets Abbey, a fellow writer, as well as a kindred-and-potentially-more-talented spirit (soul mate?), he’s all in. Based on the title of the book, one can surmise what direction the relationship ultimately takes.
The story is refreshingly in the moment, with several key moments happening via Twitter transcripts. In time, it will seem quaint, but for now — it’s very now. Conrad has a good grip on word play and the general techno-babble silliness that is modern English, as it has seen some storm damage courtesy of the ever-influence of technology and an alarming simplification (abstraction?) of interpersonal communication. He nicely balances a statement on the post-existential world of online love with a deft, timeless depiction of the great no-no: two artists of the same medium should never start a relationship. (Also, never date an actress. Seriously, it’s a bad idea.)
As an American reader, I didn’t have any difficulty with the more English aspects of the story (mainly descriptions of rain, lots of rain) but then again, everything I learned about the finer nuances of living in the UK came from The Young Ones, so I am properly educated in these matters. Once you have mastered the insult, “Codpiece Face,” the rest is nothing but tea and strumpets.
Love, the sweet and the sour, is something Frankie has difficulty handling. It’s fun for the reader to watch him try.