I'll start by saying I've only recently signed up for Book Group Online, and I'll be honest, I'm trying to take a shot at marketing my new book somewhere effective. Though I have to admit I'd love to spend more time here in general.
My name is Duncan John Reyneke. I'm a long time reader who actually works as an advertising writer as a job. I'm a sucker fo science fiction and big plot twists, horror fiction, speculative and absurdist stuff.
I've only recently started listening to a lot of Stephen King audiobooks. I also love Murakami, Irvine Welsh, Lauren Beukes, Chuck P, and many others I'll probably be embarrassed I forgot later on.
As I mentioned, I recently published my second book, called "Bay City Monsters", about a hotel concierge who falls for a girl on the run from the forces of hell. It's a dark comedy horror fiction book, full of sex, violence, demons and video games.
It's available on Amazon, as a Kindle or paperback.
Living in London is a strange experience. There's a feeling of loneliness and isolation, coupled with a belief that everyone else you see is coping much better. Everyone else seems to be busy, in company, with enough money and contacts to access a social life.
In Londoners, Craig Taylor interviews 80 people who live or have lived in London (plus a Geordie) and gets their very different perspectives. But for most of them, there is a common sense that they are struggling to survive in a city that is bigger than them. The isolation and loneliness comes through in many of the interviews. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who felt the way I did.
Craig Taylor does an excellent job in packaging the interviews around common themes, often following one interview with another that either addresses a point raised in the interview before or, perhaps, offers a polar opposite view. The overall feel is like those nostalgia TV programmes where celebrities do talking heads pieces to cameras, conveniently remembering some programme or artefact from 30 years ago with perfect clarity. The comments are mostly a little bit offbeat, occasionally eccentric, but do feel quite "processed". Craig Taylor's role is, for the most part, unseen. However, some of the interviews have the occasional scene setting in italics, talking about the pub or cafe where the interview is being conducted or, in one case, mentioning a toilet break. It's a useful device for reminding the reader of the nature of the interviews but Craig Taylor does well to avoid introducing his story into these snippets. Taylor has his own introduction, but apart from that, he lets the city and its people tell their own story.
There are some absolute gems in the interviews. Each reader will have his or her own favourites, but I loved the badinage between three black barristers discussing their wigs and the nature of different juries. Some of their views were quite cynical, but probably 100% accurate. Race inevitably crops up in many interviews. In particular, there was a lot of mention of the Eastern European migrants that had come to the city in the past 10 years or so. There were few interviews with Eastern Europeans, leaving them as this large, offstage group that affected others' views. This had the interesting effect of making the Asian/Bangladeshi communities (the previous migrant group) look long-established and accepted.
The interviewees mostly conveyed a sense of optimism and adventure. Living in London was seen as a bit like wrestling with a tiger - getting to grips with something bigger and stronger than yourself; ultimately doomed to fail but exhilarating whilst trying. And, as with my own personal experience of London, most interviewees seemed to talk and live their jobs first, and the city second - but with little mention of personal relationships. Yet for all the concentration on work, few (if any) seemed satisfied. As one of the final interviewees notes, London is so diverse that even if you succeed in doing something or living in a particular place, there are lots of alternative jobs or locations you could have gone for instead. There's a constant sound of "if only".