Thursday, 29 January 2015

Book #9 Last Night On Earth by Kevin Maher

Last Night On Earth

Last Night On Earth will be released be on the 2nd April 2015. My thanks to Little, Brown Group for the complimentary copy.

As I started reading Kevin Maher's Last Night On Earth two unexpected things happened. I grew up in England, but my family hails from a tiny Irish town in the West that no-one has ever heard of. Last Night On Earth is partially set in this town, something that I was delighted by from the off. This never happens, I've never even seen its name in a novel. Secondly, I myself had a difficult and oxygen deprived birth, as does the child of the man from this town. Eerie. Frankly, at this point, Last Night on Earth could have been "a pile of shite altogether and I would still have thought it was deadly. It wasn't a pile of shite though, it was mighty"

I write that using the Irish vernacular because that was the thing that made me love this book deeply. The lead character Jay has this incredibly authentic voice that has the cadence and vocabulary of home and just sounds so right. Particularly at the beginning, I was just dying laughing at every page and it just filled me so full of happy nostalgia.

A young Jay has fled Ireland for undisclosed reasons and like many diaspora taken a job in the building trade in London. He ends up being selected for work on a program about films and joins the media, were he simultaneously stands out for his background yet is patronised because of it.

Throughout it all, he writes letters home to his dear old Mammy from her Right Hand Man. And they are so funny, and often, inappropriate. I would be thinking "ah sure now, why wouldja say that to yer poor Mammy? would he not have killt the poor old girl stone dead with the carry on outta him?" - the answer becomes clear down the line.

I liked less the sections which focused on Jay's wife Shauna's therapy sessions with Guert, because it's Jay's voice which makes this book what it is. The sections near the end about the docusoap and the Millenium Dome felt a little dated stylistically and perhaps something of a cliche. Perhaps I've read too many books in the last decade about people who live in London and work in television....Jay is a great character, and doesn't need this backdrop to succeed as a character.

I've read a lot of books that are billed as "comic" and are nothing of the sort and don't even raise a smile. I stayed up for hours giggling at this and kept texting bits of it to my mother. One for the Irish, definitely, but also those who love Irish humour. Jay's friend "The Clappers" should get her own spin off as well.
Despite the slight criticism I've made, my entire family is going to be told to buy this book, aunts, uncles, the lot, and I'm really looking forward to getting a hold of and reading The Fields, Kevin Maher's first book, he's now writing a third, and he's pretty much got a reader for life in me now. As long as he keeps writing, I'll keep reading, and I would recommend you did too!  

Verdict 10/10

2015 Challenge : a book set in your hometown

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