Monday, April 24, 2006

Book review: Allen, Lisa's Dad

The screen of my handheld computer measures 59 by 44 millimetres. Reading anything long on it is a bastard. But the other day I had nothing tangible to read on the train, so I had a go at a novel I'd happened to pluck from the net and stick on the handheld.

Michael Allen is an English novelist, playwright and editor. He also runs the enjoyable blog The Grumpy Old Bookman, treating mainly of the fiction publishing business. And that's where I learned of his own recent novel, How and why Lisa's Dad got to be famous.

This book is available freely in PDF format in order to give readers a chance to check it out before buying the paper version. The file's a snapshot of this paper version: no e-reader amenities here. So to read it on my Qtek's dinky screen I have to find exactly the right zoom ratio to accommodate a line of text in 59 millimetres, I have to centre the page properly, and I have to scroll past the white space at the top and bottom of every page.

Let's just say that due to technology, this book does not have an easy way to this particular reader's heart. But I'm currently on page 141.

It's a great little novel! The near-contemporary small-town English setting and the wry tone reminds me of Sue Townsend, who is a big favourite of mine. Lisa's Dad unfolds beautifully from an artfully cloudy beginning, new pieces of information being offered at exactly the pace necessary to make the book a page turner. And it has excellent characterisation. And it takes the piss out of the media business.

What's the book about? To avoid spoiling anyone's fun, just let me say that it's the first-person account of a man who has participated in a seriously weird reality TV show, and who wants to set the record straight about what actually happened. The story revolves around his relationship to his co-star and the show's producer.

I have a feeling I'll be ordering a paper copy of Lisa's Dad and giving it to someone who's unlikely to download it from the net.

Allen, M. 2006. How and why Lisa's Dad got to be famous. Kingsfield Publications. ISBN 1-903988-14-4.
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Blogger martha said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I won't be reading it on a handheld computer, but I'm always on the lookout for new books.

26 April, 2006 06:22  
Blogger Martin said...

I finished the book last night and found it savoury and satisfying all the way through. And then I did what the author hoped I would -- ordered the novel and a short story collection by the same guy, both on paper.

26 April, 2006 08:44  

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