Saturday, 9 April 2011

Book Review: Scratch by Danny Gillan

ScratchThis book came to my attention on a forum at a point in time when I was thinking I could do with a funny read, so onto the Kindle it went. This is Danny's second novel, both have a bunch of good reviews on Amazon so it looked like a good choice.

Scratch is the story of Jim Cooper, as told by him. He works in a call centre, fobbing off customers and has been plodding along until one day a complaint letter appears from an ex's dad. This sparks something in Jim who decides it is time for a fresh start. He leaves his job, with nothing new lined up and sells his flat to clear his debts rendering himself homeless. Age 33 he finds himself living at home again, and working back in the same pub he was working in 12 years earlier - not exactly progress!

However ex Paula's crazy dad befriends him and reveals that she is moving back to Glasgow (with her husband) When she comes back she announces to Jim that her marriage is all but over, and that she loves him, but she can't leave her husband until his seriously ill grandad either recovers or dies. Jim being newly grown up insists on no sex until she has told him, while she insists they keep their non-affair a secret.

The book is is very funny in places, getting me laughing out loud on the train. I loved Jim's relationship with best friend Terry which was a good source of humour, as was Paula's Bruce Lee mad, lonely dad. It was also touching and sad, as Jim and Paula struggle to renew their relationship in less than ideal circumstances. By turns it was also uplifting and made me smile. Seeing the change in Jim's relationship with his parents made me really happy for all three of them. I suppose that must mean the characters were well-drawn, to make me feel like that. Jim is certainly likeable and he and his group of friends and colleagues certainly reminded me of people I have known and been friends with.

If you don't like bad language in your books you'd be well advised not to pick this one up, it gets a bit colourful. It didn't bother me unduly as it seemed to fit with the characters and how they would speak.

If I had anything negative to say about this book it would be the length of it. When I looked at the number of locations when I started reading (if you don't kindle locations were in place of page numbers because of issues with changing font sizes) it was probably the longest book on my kindle by some way. I think a slightly harsher edit might have been worthwhile as in a couple of places I started skimming a bit as conversations rambled or Jim pontificated. The author probably could have made the story closer to the usual length of a novel without losing any of the impact, and in fact possibly tightening the book up a bit.

By and large thought I thought this was a really good read, an honest look at life, growing up and the joy and pain of relationships.

Format: Kindle, purchased
My rating: 4*


Danny said...

Hi TC, just wanted to say thank you for the great review, it's much appreciated and I'm glad you laughed!

TC said...

No problem Danny, making me laugh is good, although it's fortunate it was a busy noisy train carriage so I don't think too many people noticed me chuckling away. I hope you take it as a compliment (I am a big fan of his) but the way the book took me from laughing to almost being in tears reminded mea bit of reading a Ben Elton novel.

Danny said...

Making people laugh on trains seems to be becoming a specialty of Scratch. Although I haven't read all his books, those of Ben Elton's I have have impressed me a great deal so I'll take that comparison any day!