A strange, funny, gritty novel with a lot of philosophy and an exploration of what it means to be a working-class white male.
The story is set in 2006 in the (fictional) East London borough of Leytonstow. It’s narrated by John Torrington, aged 38 and a half. He mops and collects trolleys at a DIY store for his horrible bosses, while living in a grotty bedsit in a house full of other depressed impoverished single men. He writes poetry and is obsessed with polar exploration. His best friends are fellow oddballs, Gabby and Glyn. When John tries to change things and make the borough a happier place, he learns that even the most awful people have a story to tell which explains their behaviour and outlook. The plot is a bit vague and becomes more surreal towards the end. It’s a very unusual book with memorable characters and sharp observations of class in Britain.
100 pages could have been trimmed from the book to make it less rambling. I did become a little impatient with it. The dialogue was quite repetitive at times. Overall, however, I found it an engaging read with some laugh-out-loud moments.
I won the book in a Twitter giveaway from Louise Walters Books.
Published in 2021.