Monday, 15 June 2009

The Monday Review :: 'The writing. Oh, the writing.'

From now on, right up until the moment I get bored or give up, Mondays will be given over to feedback related to the book. If you think you might find this a little tedious, please feel free to go elsewhere. You turncoat, you.

First up, the reviews. A couple have already appeared on Amazon, including one from Valerie E Polichar, which includes, if I may pick a few cherries, the following: ‘compelling and intelligent’, ‘Cattermole has excellent pacing, a keen sense of humor, and a gift for believable dialogue', ‘…a clearly skilled writer with the ability to root his personal history in the essence of human nature. This story is more than true - it is heart-true… it's also pretty sexy.’

Did you hear that last bit? Pretty sexy. I like that especially.

The other Amazon review is from Lady Penelope, who says, ‘I read Bete de Jour, the blog from day one and Stan Cattermole never ceased to make me laugh, cry, gasp and even get rather cross, on occasion. Every human emotion was there. Then came the book… I read it in less than 24 hours and hung off every word. It's real. It's raw. It's a life story that will grab you by the hair and leave you screaming for more by the end. Read it! You won't regret it!’

That's great, that 'screaming for more' And not at all exaggerated. I've heard them. People. Up and down the country, all across the globe, screaming. 'MOOoooreee!' they scream. 'More!' And then they start weeping.

Then there was 'Paperbat' who reviewed the book for her website. Cherries include: ‘…irresistible. Immediate.... The writing. Oh, the writing. I enjoy reading Stan Cattermole’s writing as much as I enjoy Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, I have rarely read anything more painfully humorous and delightfully moving. For me, this book is packed full of snivels and dusted with scenes that require tissues and a break. And yet the same book contains wondrous interludes that make me laugh out loud, even on third or fourth reading....’

You see that? Twain, Dickens, Vonnegut, Cattermole.... It's like the Mount Rushmore of great literature...

OK, OK, I'll stop now.

All of the above reviewers however, have one thing in common – they were familiar with the blog before they encountered the book. I can’t help feeling that, automatically, they would be better-disposed to enjoy the book. More of a challenge, I think, are people who’ve never read it before. People like the Amber Cowan at London Lite, and Ian Wear at The Bookbag. The London Lite we've already covered, but Mr Wear’s review appeared only last week. Here are the cherries, and – damn him to hell – a couple of curdled prunes.

‘The first thing you notice is that Stan is a very funny guy. He has a wry sense of humour... frequently amusing... hilarious'. So far, so good. I particularly like 'frequently amusing'.

'Stan is also an emotional character and takes a lot to heart... [he] never holds back and whilst some of the things he's done over the years do seem pretty disgusting, it is to his credit that he is as open as he is... What this did provide, however, is a touch of reality that is often missing. Being able to empathise with a character in a book like this is something that happens rarely, at least to me… the most realistic bloke-lit book I've read.’

Bloke-lit? Bloke-lit? Is that the accepted contrary of chick-lit? I don’t like it. I would have felt much more at home with something else - dick-lit, for example.

Wear goes on to suggest that I ‘fall for a couple of the old clichés’, by which he means that the story of my life becomes ‘a little too sensational to seem real… It may be that Stan just happens to have had a remarkable year and a number of his friends did have quite a tough time, but there was so much going on that it took the edge off things slightly.’

Pffft. You should think yourself lucky that the edge was taken off, Wear. Imagine having to deal with the edge too. You'd never have coped.

He also says that he found the book depressing because ‘close to the end, Stan looks back over his efforts and it suddenly occurred to me at that point that this man is actually more successful with the opposite sex than I am.’

Aaaah, yeah. Stan Cattermole. The man who makes other men jealous. Which means, incidentally, that mankind, is fucked.

Wear concludes: ‘…a very entertaining book…. a warm-hearted, well-written, amusing read. It's perhaps a little explicit during the cyber-sex scenes, but Stan doesn't go into Belle de Jour levels of detail. As well as being a funny guy, in this respect Stan is something of a gentleman.’

Right, so that’s the reviews so far. Not as many as I would like frankly, but then I am never satisfied. I should be happy that they’re all good reviews. And indeed I am. I’m overjoyed. But still, where are those bastard tabs and broadsheets when you need them? Eh?

Next up, interviews. I’ve already done one with a Sky journalist, but apparently they want a photo of me in a paper bag before they’ll run it.

Then tomorrow I’m being interviewed for something called Talk Radio Europe. More specifically, for the Boland Show, with the one and only Maurice Boland. Quite.

Then on Wednesday I’m being interviewed for something called The Last Word on something called Today FM.

I think that both interviews are being prerecorded, which is a big relief, otherwise I’d be very concerned about the Tourette’s. I still need to watch myself however. I need to speak slowly, and breathe. It’ll be like being on a date. I have to deliberately calm myself down. I may have to take a diazepam. Someone sent me a message just an hour ago warning me that it’s very easy to sound like a mouse on speed with all the excitement. I shall make every effort to avoid that. I shall make every effort to sound like a mouse on a benzodiazepine derivative drug instead.

Unfortunately I won’t find out when the interviews are to be aired until after I’ve done ‘em. But, unless they go very very badly, I’ll let you know.

What else? Ah yes, if you’re not sure whether you want to buy the book or not, you can now browse the opening pages of the first 18 chapters, which frankly, I think is far too much, and could potentially spoil many of the wonderful surprises within the book, but I guess the publishers know what they’re doing. By the way, if you browse, you must buy. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

More exciting than all of the above however, and more potentially humiliating, is the fact that on Friday I went down to London, to the recording studio of a talented friend, and recorded the spoken vocal for a version of the Paper Bag song. This thing here, which also appears in the book and, I thought, might make a decent actual song. It could still all fall apart though. This week I have to start working on a video. Um... right, a video. I don’t know what I’m doing! Help!

Finally, thanks to all of you who’ve sent me wonderful or otherwise rambly and slightly bizarre emails and messages over the last week. I will get round to replying to you in the next few days. I'm just finding the time at the moment, but as I’ve no plans to go back down to London any time soon, I should be able to get myself into a decent work rhythm again. Won't be long now.

In the meantime, faithful readers, Amazon awaits you.

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SugarCain said...

Oh, my head is spinning from the details. I just wanted to add that I am rather fond of having written this: "none of the women he finds seems good enough for him, with his cutting wit and his sensitive heart and his big dick and his hot-air balloon of a spirit."

And let's hope we never again hear the term "bloke lit."


Anonymous said...

Because I am extremely demanding, I would like my "screaming" comment added to your sidebar.
Thank you.
That is all.

Melissa said...

Good luck with the radio shows. I for one am very excited about how you might sound...and will be tuning in online, not just for you of course, but also for the undoubtedly smooth vocal delights of Maurice Boland (great name - it's sure to be a cracker).

Panda said...

On a practical level I think it's worth underlining that the book isn't the same as the blog. Some elements are familiar and recaptured, but they're woven into a different story.

And it's a very good story.

And yes, it is sexy.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

A video! The mind boggles... will there be paper bags involved there too??

Dying to hear the song - puts me in mind of JonnyB's Save the Post Office thingy.

I will def do Amazon reviews etc (sorry, should say I've read the book and loved it) but I need to sit down and compose properly and I have something else going on this week that I have to get out of the way first.

Anonymous said...

this is quite a lot of action, it seems. i've done radio and the best suggestion i can offer is to write/practice a few 'sound bites' that would answer likely questions... helps relax you to have a few easy shots in your pocket...

AA said...

You deserve congrats just for writing a book at all. Is very tricky when the internet is sitting there just waiting to be clicked, no?

I look forward to reading it. Well done. x

Antipo Déesse said...

My copy still hasn't been delivered! How can I add my pearls of wisdom to your reviews...?

Anonymous said...

i might have missed it, but what's your rule on doing visual interviews. like mags and telly? just out of interest. i have no power in either (or any) media…