DAVID F. ROSS - THE MAN WHO LOVED ISLANDS (2017)


Synopsis/blurb…
The Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK ... In the early 80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven't spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive ... and forget. With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one-off Music Festival - The Big Bang - on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island. Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loves Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy - a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland's finest new voices.
 
'Crucially Ross's novel succeeds in balancing light and dark, in that it can leap smoothly from brutal social realism to laugh-out-loud humour within a few sentences. It is a triumphant debut novel, which announces a real new talent on the Scottish literary scene' Press and Journal
 
'More than just a nostalgic recreation of the author's youth, it's a compassionate, affecting story of a family in crisis at a time of upheaval and transformation, when disco wasn't the only thing whose days were numbered' - Herald Scotland
 
'By turn hilarious and heart-breaking, more than anything Ross creates beautifully rounded characters full of humanity and perhaps most of all, hope. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It’s rude, keenly observed and candidly down to earth' The Scotsman
 
A bit of a departure for me insofar as it’s not a mystery or some gritty crime fiction. The Man who Loved Islands is a novel about friendships - past, fractured and soon to be mended. Always assuming our main players can forgive, both themselves and each other.
It’s the third in a loose trilogy of book from Ross – the earlier ones were The Last Days of Disco and The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas.
We have estranged friends Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller and a realisation in middle-age of the importance and enjoyment, their youthful relationship had for them both. Twenty plus years later and with the interference of Hamish May they get the opportunity to resurrect it and enjoy a new adventure.
Best read ever? No but I liked the separate tales of both main characters and friends and family on the periphery. Ross invites us into their lives and we share their individual journeys over the past few years. The author flip-flops the narrative with chapters alternating past and present and differing locations.
We spend a lot of time on the party island of Ibiza and there’s a lot of musical hat-tips and references – some of which weren’t especially familiar to me by title. A trip to You-Tube with a list of tracks soon corrected that. In the 80s I was more of a beer and football bloke, than a dance and raver type. I’m too old for both now!
I liked all the characters and their escapades. I could relate to a lot of the follies of youth – the nights on the beer, the arguments, the laughs, the fights and the hurts. The only difference being, I’m happy to leave my youth and friends from 30 years ago – back in the past. I have a different life now.
There are some moments of pure comedy gold – a couple of amputees with a spinning harness and a hard-on, getting down and dirty brought tears to my eyes.  
Towards the end of the book and our climactic celebratory re-union gig in remembrance of a deceased family member, there’s the surprising addition of rising tension to our tale.
All in all a great read. 
4 from 5

David F. Ross  was answering a few questions on the blog yesterday – here
His website is here. He’s on Twitter - @dfr10

  
Read in April, 2017
Published - 2017
Page count - 310
Source - review copy from publisher Orenda Books
Format - paperback

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