Having read Jeremy Dyson's 'What Happens Now' within the space of a few days it's hard to believe that it's his debut novel.
Each chapter is enthralling, every paragraph meaningful...not a wasted line or a word out of place.
Dyson is blessed with the ability to say so much with just a few lines. He has a writing style that is so crisp, concise and unforced that it seems almost effortless...characters and ideas flow off the pages in such a natural way.
Contained within this unaffected style are complex themes; how the past and present collide, the power of imagination - and how these create and shape the fear, regret and self destructiveness of the novel's two main characters - Alistair Black and Alice Zealand.
Alistair Black is the central character and is written with such sympathy, depth of feeling and understanding that the reader is on his side from the opening paragraphs of the novel to the devastating ending.
The story criss-crosses several decades and is brilliantly sustained, enabling you to see the characters at different stages of their lives. Its this narrative arc which allows the book's thematical and emotional complexity to develop with such originality and distinctive depth...its absolutely mesmerising.
There are so many scenes and moments in this novel which I know will stay in my memory long after reading them. Dyson subtly creates such atmosphere and suspense in the incidents befalling his characters. The understated way in which the threatening menace of a key scene in the novel - a terrible, overwhelming incident that happens one night to Alistair and Alice - is built up makes its appalling conclusion even more shocking. Its a perfect example of a writer at the height of his powers.
Jeremy Dyson's debut novel is simply stunning...a totally unforgettable experience for the reader. If you only read one book this year make it this one...
(If 'What Happens Now' whets your appetite for more Dyson then buy 'Never Trust A Rabbit', a brilliant collection of his short stories)
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