I read Man and Boy by Tony Parsons and Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey as my A-Book-A-Day Challenge and I WAS FLOORED! I had bought both of them casually and had no more expectations than Mrs. Bennet had from Mary ;p but I WAS SOOOO WRONG.
And here’s why:
Man and Boy – Tony Parsons
If I had to describe the plot in one line that’d be – ‘An almost thirty man bought a sports car and what happened next will shock you (not so much)!!’
I could just include the synopsis and tell you how developed the story-line was and how much I enjoyed the language but that’s so stale and just not me. Instead, I will tell you, in a few words, how it felt to read this gem of a book.
I WANTED TO CRY. I WANTED TO LAUGH. I WANTED TO SWING IT AT THE WALL. AND PRETTY MUCH WANTED TO KICK HARRY SILVER IN THE BUTT!!!!!
Harry Silver, our protagonist craves newness in his life – the same excitement, the passion of the twenties, the wildness of a teenager. But that is just glorifying the real shit which is – He is ageing and he does not like it.Not even a tiny little bit. And he takes personal offence from the whole affair as if growing old is something that is happening exclusively to him. This should paint a pretty good picture of his character or at least how he portrays hinself in the beginning. But giving in to his desire to buy the ”total babe-magnet” drive, his life changes DRASTICALLY. Not amount of bold and italics can cover the magnitude with which his world spins backwards. And that is the extent to which I can say about the plot. Anymore than that and it’ll feel like I’m retelling the story.
Once I started reading it, I did not want to put it down and I DIDN’T. No food, no water, no loo – I just had to keep on going. Man and Boy made me privy to a man’s inner thoughts, his feelings, his crazy obliviousness to everything about a woman. I mean, would you look at this?
‘To me it always looked as though she was crying about nothing. Not a good mother? I mean, what was that all about? Gina was a brilliant mother. And if she was feeling a bit isolated during the day, she could give me a call at work. My secretary would always take a message. Or there was an answering machine on my mobile. How could she ever be lonely? I just didn’t get it.’
Yeah, I know you JUST DON’T GET IT , you weirdly lovable twit!
A man’s desperate attempts at trying very hard to shake off the mental baggage that comes with a wife and a child, his attempts to focus on the loving things about being in an old, regular but considerably happy married life: I could feel the awkwardness with which Harry related his twin mind – his hunger for excitement and his love for his family – he was torn between the two and no amount of sarcastic comments could hide it. Harry Silver came alive to me right from the beginning – the dynamic changes in his life and in his own character could not go unnoticed. While reading it, his life became more real to me than my own surroundings. I could ALWAYS find something to relate and that made me more comfortable with allowing my world mingle with his. Sometimes I was Harry, sometimes Gina, sometimes Cyd and sometimes Pat but EVERYTHING felt ‘home’ to me, very strangely and unnervingly real.
I guffawed at all the inappropriate places. This adds to the beauty of Man and Boy. It makes you laugh. NO. NO. LAUGH. Actually force a sound out of your throat, not just one of those little ‘exhaling’ but the kind that hurts your stomach and disturbs other people!!
But in-between sudden bursts of laughter, I felt the heaviness in his words. His guilt for his darling little boy Pat who has to suffer all the ill-effects of a divorce was heart-wrenching.
Man and Boy is MANY, MANY things at once and the only to figure out what it means to YOU is to read it and READ IT YOU MUST OR BREATHE YOU SHOULD NOT! ;P
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
‘Turn not pale, beloved snail.’
This little, old woman both entertained and irritated me and I am sure you’ll relate. (once you read the book, of course!)
The book starts off abruptly and carries on an oddly mysterious air. I can’t figure out what’s happening and why and maybe that is the point. Maud is a *loony* lonely woman. This much is apparent in almost everything she does.
‘Now I have plenty of time to look at everything and no one to tell what I’ve seen.’
I felt the same frustrations as Maud did due her forgetful mind. SO VERY STUPIDLY FORGETFUL. ;P You see, I was starving when I started reading the book but the absurdness caught my interest fast and I did not move one inch until I finished it. And if I skip EATING for a book its; either very, VERY interesting and well-written or it is sooo dull that I died and I assure you, it wasn’t the latter!
The words came alive with Maud’s breath, Maud’s ill memory, Maud’s irritating habits. And it was all very pleasant. And hilarious too! I mean, I know it’s bad and I’ll probably do some time in hell for laughing at her BUT the woman is so forgetful she forgets she had to to the bathroom SECONDS after she’s mentioned it!! Poor soul!
And the effect of her words was such that while reading it, I couldn’t remember anything either! There is a scene where she tries to remember what happened last Saturday, during her search for Elizabeth and along with her, I started to recall my last week and I COULD NOT DO IT! All I could think about was Maud and her obsession with ‘Elizabeth is missing.’ She is awkward, desperate, and needy even though she won’t admit to it. And having a weak memory makes it all the more harder for her to maintain a peaceful relationship with her daughter. This made me sympathetic towards her situation BUT SHE IS STILL VERY FUNNY!!! ;P ;P
Maud is always remembering which is ironic because she is always forgetting. It’s like she is trying very hard to make room for the thoughts and memories that really matter. And it proves true since her obsession with her friend’s Elizabeth’s disappearance seeded from her unsolved past. Memories are all she is left with and unfortunately, that is also her weak point.
This is a story about a woman’s troubled past interwoven with her messy present. And every word is drenched with this confusion which gives the word ‘mystery’ a WHOLE other level. A hauntingly beautiful and richly irritating story which follows Maud’s attempt at untangling her worlds which leads to an even messier mind. She did not do that on purpose, oh NO, but by the end she’s so consumed by all those tales that she’d formed that she forgets almost everything else. It’s symbolic because as Maud succeeds in solving a decades old mystery, she turns into a sort of a ‘mad woman’ – like the one she was chased by when she was a young girl.
But hey, apart from everything that is absolutely WONDERFUL about it, reading ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ left me dreading the normal ageing process even more!!!! After experiencing life from Maud’s eyes, Lana del Rey’s wish to ‘die young’ seems to take on a WHOLE DIFFERENT MEANING! ;P
A FINAL WORD: READ THEM BOTH. YOU WON’T REGRET IT, I SWEAR!