`In Search of the Missing Eyelash' is narrated by Lizzie. Lizzie is a really interesting character that at first I couldn't work out if I was going to like. By the end of the novel I was on a complete emotional journey of hilarious highs and also some surprising and shocking lows. Lizzie is in a strange emotional place. Her father has died a while back which has scarred her, she has fallen out with her mother, her brother Simon (or Amanda as he likes to be known) is missing and she is pretty much obsessed with and stalking her ex-girlfriend Sally who has left her for a man `with a fat neck'. When I say stalking I mean proper stalking with cameras and stuff collecting bathroom fluff and other odd assortments.
Her confidantes are her self obsessed neighbour (who I didn't quite like and yet who supplied many laughs) who is always falling in love and her boss Ruby of `Ruby's Caff'. Her workplace and its customers I think were a stroke of complete genius from McLeod secondary characters such as Elsie who is a bit psychic and Alf whose son finds him a Thai Bride, just made light in some very dark parts of the book. The story follows Lizzie as she follows Sally and as things start to unravel all around her.
I couldn't believe this was a debut novel. I thought that McLeod's prose was perfect and in some parts very poetic, and I don't mean because of one of the characters poems about Pickled Onions, and had me totally spell bound. I thought the way it dealt with gender, sexuality and a family breakdown was honest and poignant without being overly dramatic (there is a good sprinkling of drama in there though). I just thought it was an incredibly accomplished novel and was much deeper and darker than I was expecting, I thought it was going to be very funny from the blurb which it is. I laughed at several parts out loud on particular scene which I won't mention actually left me laughing out loud for about five minutes.
I saw Karen McLeod read some of her favourite book; the very funny and poignant `Crocodile Soup' by Julia Carling (which I read last year) who she said helped her to write. I thought this was an equally wonderful book, in fact I think they should sell the two together like sometimes Vintage do, I think they would be a perfect pairing.
I love this book with all my heart. It nails the feeling of being young, queer and broke in London and it touches your heart without being too sentimental. I really hope Karen will write another novel soon!
Lizzie's girlfriend has dumped her for a man with a fat neck, her brother, who likes dressing up as a woman has disappeared, and now her mother has gone too.
Lizzie decides to take up some stalking - she wants to find out if Sally, the ex, really doesn't love her anymore. This involves breaking into her house, following her on holiday in disguise - the French resistance look, black bobbed wig, black mac.
It's great about being in love, waiting for texts, analysing how many 'x's they have on them. It has great secondary characters. Petula downstairs, her best friend and sex addict 'You know anal sex is very in at the moment', who talks about her boyfriends but we never get to see them - the Welsh poet, the Welsh barman, the bouncer.
And it also has a great sense of place. Lizzie works in a cafe (all the pensioners who come in go on a trip to see the whale that is swimming up the Thames), she goes to the launderette, local pubs, lives in a flat, drinks wine and takes a bottle of vodka in her bag to drink before going out in Brighton.
The humour is dry, doesn't feel forced, and it isn't contrived.
Definitely recommended and Ali Smith likes it too. In fact, good reviews all round.