Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont
|Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Samuel Grant works in Adland - in branding - and these are diary entries from two years of his life. I expected it to be too laddish for me but was very pleasantly surprised. Recommended. Simon Pont popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 322||Date: October 2012|
|Publisher: Urbane Publications|
|External links: Author's website|
We meet Sam Grant on his 27th birthday, but he's not out celebrating. He's got flu and just to add to his problems he's got a boil in his groin - or on his thigh - depending on which side of the doctor's desk you're sitting. Sam's not been looking after himself since his girlfriend dumped him just over three months ago and when you work in Adland the opportunities for not looking after yourself are many and varied. The millennium hasn't quite arrived, 'austerity' hasn't even been thought about and living an out-of-control life has never been easier. What we get is Sam's diary, but it's not in chronological order, with some of it going back to before he met Sarah - the girl he didn't really want, but struggles to get over.
I wasn't certain that I wanted to read this book: I thought it would be a bit too laddish for my tastes and when I started reading I even had someone in mind whom I was pretty certain would enjoy it. I was put off too by the suggestion that this was a male version of Bridget Jones - which usually means that there's a certain lack of originality - but I was about a quarter of the way through the book before it dawned on me that Sam was a complete original and there was no way I was passing this book on to anyone else.
Part of it's down to Sam himself. I thought I would dislike him. I wanted to dislike him, but I couldn't. Even in the depths of self-pity and self-loathing (anything with the prefix self- will probably apply to Sam) you sense that he knows exactly what he's doing - that he's watching and judging the performance. He laughs at himself, at his extravagances and he can probably measure exactly how ridiculous it all is. He's blisteringly funny and honest way beyond the point at which you wish that he could be a little less forthcoming.
The male characters take centre stage, as you would expect. I wanted to dislike Jamie the obnoxious banker too, but you can't take against someone who's doing his rather dim girlfriend's Open University essays in exchange for sex. He's getting quite good grades too. You've also got to wonder if the girlfriend is as dim as he thinks.
I laughed myself to tears at the meetings. They're cliché-strewn wastes of everybody's time but anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognise them - and the motivation behind them, which has absolutely nothing to do with the job in hand.
It's character driven rather than plot driven. You can attach all sorts of tags to it - rom-com, coming-of-age - but if you enjoy characters who come off the page and behave outrageously and a storyline that's insightful then this could well be the book for you. I've one niggle and that's the lack of good proof reading. I found myself rereading to check that I had the sense of something correctly far too often.
I do hope that there'll be a sequel, but whilst you're waiting you might enjoy the work of Mike Gayle. Mind you - if you'd like to know a bit more about Samuel Grant - his tastes in film and music, for instance - have a look at the author's website.
You can read more about Simon Pont here.
Simon Pont was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Remember to Breathe by Simon Pont at Amazon.com.
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