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It's a hugely amusing book about ''father figures, second chances and what it means to tell the truth''.
The narrator and unlikely hero is Liam Wilson, book editor, hedonist and liar. The novel starts with the lowest point in his life. He's dumped by his girlfriend. He's sacked from his job for his role in the death of a novelist friend, Craig Bennett, largely because Craig was also the money-maker for the publishing firm Liam works for.
His life in shreds, Liam leaves for Buenos Aires to work out his remorse and write the finest love letter possible in order to win girlfriend Sarah back. The love letter he writes ends up filling several notebooks and turning into a novel, the writing of which reveals how difficult it is for him to be truthful.
Brown's years as an editor of literary fiction informs his novel, a well-written story about a man full of sadness and self-pity. Some of his descriptive phrasing through Liam as narrator is a delight: ''London showed itself in the muted colours of an old TV set, a bad home video of itself.''
I found the book at once both funny and bathetic, with Liam's attempt at improvement producing some unexpected twists.
- Ted Fox is a Dunedin online marketing consultant.