Johnny Ruin (a kind of book review)

As some of you may know, I am of no fixed abode at the moment. I’m living in a holiday rental in the Mosel valley in the Rhineland Palatinate, whilst looking for a house to buy. This means all Unbound books I’ve pledged for are being held at Unbound for me, by Caitlin. So I’m very glad that, as a member of the Unbound Club, I get a free e-book every month. This month it is the book shown left, written by Dan Dalton.

I didn’t back Johnny Ruin. I am prejudiced against books set amongst the creatives of North London, filled with the successors to the human characters in Will Self’s Great Ape, that’s how it is. If it weren’t for my policy of always* finishing any book that I start, I might not have got past the first 15 pages of this one. That would have been a grave error of judgement. Just goes to show how wrong I can be.

Anyway, Dan’s book is – well, here’s a list –

a) funny
b) bitter
c) sad
d) oddly reminiscent of Pilgrim’s Progress or Paradise Lost (or even Dante’s Inferno!)
e) very good.

Part imaginary on-the-road novel, “America against the current West to East”, part “after-the-affair” confessional, I was gripped to the end waiting to find out what happened to the unreliable (?) narrator in his struggle with depression.

I have a couple of friends who suffer from depression; I’m not qualified to talk about that, because people of my age we don’t talk about it; as though if I pretend it’s not there then they aren’t really suffering from it. I’m probably going to send a copy to both of them, easier than talking right? Or maybe I’ll phone them up too. Dan’s book has helped me understand a little better and for that reason alone this is something special.

Oh, and before I forget I hope JBJ has read it, and laughed.

Buy it at unbound.com, Amazon if you have to, or at any good bookshop (especially independents).

*except Joyce’s Ulysses