The News Where You Are Paperback – 26 Dec 2010
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Praise for "What Was Lost" "I am full of admiration for What Was Lost, which skewers our consumer society in all its absurdity and terrible sadness, while deftly interweaving a tender and heartbreaking personal narrative. A great debut novel from an awesomely talented writer."-- Jonathan Coe"What Was Lost is a terrific, wonderful book and I loved every page of it." -- Douglas Coupland"A superb, haunting novel."-- "Daily Mail "(UK) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Catherine O'Flynn was born in 1970 and raised in Birmingham, the youngest of six children. Her parents ran a sweet shop. She worked briefly in journalism, then at a series of shopping centres. She has also been a web editor, a postwoman and a mystery shopper.
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Top Customer Reviews
The central character is Frank Allcroft, a genial, middle-aged local TV news presenter whose cheesy one-liners have made him a cult figure amongst students. When we meet Frank he seems to be undergoing a minor mid-life crisis, examining the meaning of his existence and his role in various people's lives. He is particularly touched by the regular reports of people who die alone and lay undiscovered for several weeks (usually until the neighbours start complaining about the smell) and he embarks on a mission to make sure they're not forgotten by leaving flowers at their houses, helping to track down relatives and even attending their funerals.
Another central theme of the book is the regeneration of our towns and cities (in this case, Birmingham) and the tearing down of some of the Soviet-style 1960s architecture for which the city is famous, including most of the buildings designed by Frank's architect father. But, as Frank ponders, are the souless apartment blocks and model villages they're being replaced with any better?
Catherine O'Flynn has a wonderful ear for both mundane and surreal dialogue (reminiscent at times of Jonathan Coe and Magnus Mills) and this book is shot through with touches of humour and pathos. I fear it might not be fast moving or action packed enough for some people, but if you enjoyed What Was Lost you'll know what to expect and I hope you won't be disappointed.
As he covers the same stories year after year, Frank struggles to keep alive something of his father, once Birmingham's favourite architect but whose buildings are now out of fashion and being torn down as he destroyed their Victorian predecessors.. People can only see what's on the outside - a perception shared by Phil, a former presenter on the programme, who went on to greater things but is afraid time has caught up with him.
These themes are brought together when Phil dies in a hit and run accident, and his old National Service friend, Michael, sitting on a park bench. Dipping back into the past and exploring Frank's relationship with his mother, who seemingly lives to be miserable, and Phil and Michael's past, "The News Where You Are" looks at erasure of the past - of buildings, memories, people, former lives - as both a creative and destructive force, and at memory as the counterpart to erasure. Frank's daughter Mo - who contributed some of the lighter moments in what is at times a very funny book - wants to be preserved as a fossil. Better, says, Frank, to become dust.
Of all the characters in this book - the frightened star, the desperate joke-writer, Frank's driven father - the central one is the city of Birmingham, whose constant drive to erase, recreate and forget itself acts as a metaphor for all the rest. Not a great deal actually happens, at least not on the surface, but you need, as Frank is aware, to look beyond the surface.
I don't think I have read another novel that is based in a local television news room - it's surprising that no-one thought of the idea before. But O'Flynn doesn't belittle her subject but instead treats it with good humour and affection. Her main protagonist is Frank - and unambitious journalist with a terrible line in (purchased) jokes who nonetheless has a substantial local fanbase. His co-presenter Julia is bright but cynical and clearly feels she is meant for better things than local news.
The themes running throughout this novel are loss and change. Frank's father had been the architect of many of Birmingham's brutally modern sixties civic buildings. But now things are changing and one by one they are being demolished - and Frank feels sad about their loss but comforted by his chirpy and optimistic young daughter Mo. Frank also takes it upon himself to attend the funerals of people who have been reported as dying alone - often as the only mourner. He is hardly able to articulate why he does this but feels it is his responsibility - but we see it as evidence of his "goodness".
There is a plot - nothing like as complex as What Was Lost - about the unexplained death of his predecessor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A gentle enough story, no excitement or urge to know what happens next. I enjoyed it in a casual way, but wouldn't be rushing to recommend it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by From where I'm standing
The cover notes on this book seem to suggest it is going to be laughs all the way. It’s true that there are many moments of observational humour that give this novel a light... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Open Ears
This was a recommended book, in a magazine, and I will pass on the recommendation. Excellent plotPublished 23 months ago by C. Hudson
A well written but largely bleak story. It earns three stars for the touches of humour that the main character, Frank's daughter and mother inject.Published 23 months ago by Vickijo
A book about Britain by a British author - so why use 'Mom' instead of 'Mum' throughout? So annoying!!Published 24 months ago by Ms K E Anderson
It depends on what you find. If the lady wrote me a shopping list I'd expect it to be sad, reflective and above all else deeply haunting. Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2014 by Jimnydriver
I really like Catherine 0'Flynn! Her characters do come to life, I enjoyed the mystery within the story but above all I like the people in it. A good read.Published on 17 Jun. 2014 by Kindle Customer
Well observed and interesting characters, and a good plot with a nice little twist at the end. Would recommend this book.Published on 30 Mar. 2014 by Isobel Peck
I really enjoyed this book. A cross between a "who dun it" and a ghost story. Looking forward next book.Published on 20 Mar. 2014 by JUNE GLYNN