Initially, we are entertained by 80s and 90s pop culture and Boy George name drops, we are amused by quips about walking around Ikea all day. Then, the protagonist, Jamie, lands himself in a situation synonymous with 1990s urban myth news. I do NOT want to spoil this part of the storyline; but wow! The characters in this book, I actually felt a little bit in love with, or at the very least hope they would be my best friend. It is so well written, with a 'no holds barred' attitude (you must read to discover what I mean). Seemingly, glass topped tables and cream coloured chaise longues are popular amongst quirky characters such as these (One example of the fabulous scene setting).
Like giant tumbleweeds shooting off seeds, the publications of Inkandescent roll purposefully towards the bookstands screaming out to be read. Not only are they attractive packages, like their creative managers Nathan Evans and Justin David, they are pulsating pages promoting rock and performance art within the covers. I have put aside too long the tome of Threads, Nathan’s compilation of magical poetry and Justin’s apt accompanying photographs. I have lost my phial of drink me liquid to wake me up from the delicious duvet moments induced by the words and images. Then comes another tumbleweed to boot me into touch; Justin’s no it couldn’t be yes it could autobiography. From his Nan’s click of knitting and the protagonist’s love of this at an early age except when he drops a stitch I was reminded of the work of Carl Stanley who also featured a midland mother’s strong character .Here, however Jamie’s mother likes the good life and works in the wool shop. Very handy for supplying his Nan and providing enough wool to make a Boy George wig for his uncle Freddie. Gloria, his mother has all the one liners, but it’s his Auntie Sandra’s comments that she had to go to Asda to get the Veuve Cliquot that takes the gong. Gloria utters the line of the title whilst Granny Phyllis knits as does the leader of the collective in New Mexico, more a bit later. Never was knitting so menacing and manageable since Delores Umbridge in the Harry Potter books. Hoping to finish the book in the garden under a hot summer sun I must have dozed while my pages fluttered over. I found myself transtraveled from Hovis Hetty Wainthrop land to a commune of Lizard people in Taos, where Jamie is kidnapped to have his brain tampered with. Jamie is boomeranged back from escape several times before he is thought to be worthless. He is let go without so much as a Barbarella type scene on the leader’s white shiny leather chair. Once home Jamie is back courting Billy in their flats in East London. Billy has become obsessed with an elderly neighbour who he has seen peddling drugs in the flower market. I first heard Justin reading the genus of this story in the Royal Festival hall. Jamie’s downward spiral and Billy’s attempt to stay high results in hysteria in Berlin and disaster in E.15. The final chapter mirrors the first but much later when Jamie has finally sorted out his love life. Strong women with Mari Wilson hairstyles abound as well as ineffectual husbands. Being a political ferret Justin prefaces some of his chapters with political quotes from the Iron Lady to Martin Luther King.As if to complete a dossier effect Justin has included many photographic images of his cast probably done for mate’s rates. On moving from the garden to the kitchen I dropped the book and all the characters scattered over the floor. I managed to sweep them back between the covers, except for Billy. I have him by his shirt collar and am keeping him for myself.
Having been a avid reader of David's short stories i have been waiting for this novel for sometime, it continues his character Jamie's travels through life, painting a vivid picture of his trials and tribulations as he finds his confidence in life, very poignant, sad and funny situations, and frightening too. This is his best writing to date, and firmly believe this could have possibility's on TV or as a film. The fine writing paints a clear picture in the mind, of the characters and the situations.
My Manchester Pride weekend reading consisted of this new novel by Justin David, 'He's Done Ever So Well for Himself.' It comes from a very new, small press and it's exactly the kind of rollicking gay bildungsroman that I needed to read. It feels a bit like going back to my roots - to gay novels, the 1990s and a kind of freewheeling narrative hedonism.
The author and protagonist are just a bit younger than I am, and through them I got to revisit recent decades and some almost-parallel adventures. It's a novel that begins with Grandma's wool bag and the stultefying fug of a close-knit family and takes us through some really hair-raising encounters with wacked-out cults, drugs and older men. There's such a good eye for detail and ear for dialogue at work, and a voice that I just wanted to carry on reading. Highly recommended and it's incredibly, ludicrously cheap on Kindle just now. But it's probably something I want to buy again, in a proper copy, just to have on the shelf to revisit.
From growing up gay in the northern England of the 1980s, this novel traces the life of a would-be author up to his first taste of success in the present day. It's a fun, engaging read, rich in larger than life characters. Includes some interesting offshoots into hippy cults of the American desert, and a stand-alone parable about a side of drug culture one rarely ever thinks about.
This felt like some one had picked up my diary and turned it in to a book . So much of this made we want to go back and capture that time and moment. This is a beautifully written tale of gay man on what feels like a journey that we have all travelled at some point . Justin’s ability to write about his life and transport you there ,is something I feel only he can do. When is this being made in to a film ???
I didn't know what to expect but this book was a delight! The characters are vibrant & larger than life and they keep coming back to me at random moments (one being my recent trip to IKEA!) . I really enjoyed the style of David's story telling - it was like immersing myself in a really juicy soap opera. And seriously...those erotic scenes... I'll say no more but let new readers discover for themselves.
This author has the wow factor and no mistake! The characters are just so believable they stay in your mind when the book is no longer in your hand, it is both moving and amusing in equal measure and the storyline is simply addictive. Let's hope Justin David does ever so well for himself - here's to the next novel and the next....