The Further Education of Mike Carter Paperback – 1 Feb 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The author knows his way around the FE system and the inward-looking ethos that it seems to engender - the stock characters are all there, from the fumbling fresh-out-of-University beginners, via the grizzled old rank-and-file lecturers starting in on the last lap to see out their time, to the deeply unpleasant, jargon-spouting managerial establishment.
The action moves along irrigated, by day, by large quantities of staffroom coffee and by night (or at any rate much of it) by the ingestion of impressive quantities of beer and wine. With that powerful cocktail it's not surprising that sex rears its head from time to time...
Some of the minor characters seem to have walk-on parts and it's not easy to get a visual image of them. This is not the case at all,, however, with two major protagonists, Eng-Lit lecturer Rhodri Evans (with a name like that he has to be from Wales - and he has an occasionally irritating habit of calling people 'bach'), and the heavy-handed megalomaniac principal Marcia Martell. The interraction between these two is very well drawn, and the very neat conclusion of the story, while not cataclysmic, was, to me, totally unexpected
The greatest pleasures here are through the skilful, humorous dialogue. The reader is straight away plunged into the lives of the main protagonists, drawn with confidence and flair by the author. Fuelled by games of pool and pints of ale at the local boozer, we eagerly anticipate the next twists in the plot through their often-unseemly interactions or culpable behaviour. We also sympathise with their individual struggles as lovers, colleagues and parents.
I particularly enjoyed the amiable rogue, Rhodri Evans, an English Literature lecturer who manages to effortlessly shag and drink his way through life. He seems to be driven more by a divine apathy in his liaisons with women, rather than any predetermined sexual intent. Likewise, Fiona Smythe is sympathetically portrayed as a woman teetering on the verge of unfulfilled ambitions and a subservient existence in her relationship with the book’s namesake, Mike Carter.
Meanwhile revelations about Mike Carter’s unorthodox behaviour underpin the plot, and result in a concluding flurry of gripping exchanges and astonishing outcomes.