Sunday, 8 February 2009

The man without

I have just read The Man Without by Ray Robinson. It's published by Picador in paperback. I met Ray ten days ago at Watertsones in Manchester and we had a coffee and a chat. He asked if I would review his book. I said yes but then started to worry that if I didn't like it what would I say. You see Ray's one of the good guys. I needn't have worried. It is a fantastic read. A great story and Ray's observations are razor sharp.It follows the life of Antony, a care worker who is under the psychiatrist as the medics say. The narrative is beautifully layered and punctuated by some brutal and dark episodes that are written with great skill. Ray writes with an honesty about a subject few of us understand. The humour and wit illuminate Antony's struggles with his transvestism which at times made me want to laugh and cry in equal measure. That we are allowed into the tortured soul of Antony and endure with him in his daily struggle to cope with his past, his present and the future is testimony to Ray's great skill as a storyteller. I loved the lricism and barbed humour. When he talks about ' the clarty arsed sheep of Ted Hughes' poetry,' you can't hellp but laugh. His references to Morrissey and The Smith's about being' miserable now,' made me titter. There is a beautiful but tense scene when on meeting his father for the first time Antony says. ' He could sense his father grasping with something. The wings of words trapped in his mouth.' Absolutley fantastic. This is a book that we all should read not because it will give us a great insight into the world of 'The Tranny,' it will, but because it is a stunning story, beautifully told by a writer with a gift for the written word.
There is a slight problem and that's with the publisher. There is no blurb on the back of the book to tempt you inside and read. There are fantastic quotes, which are a guide I guess, but I peronally like to see a little of what I'm going to jump into before I buy. However, buy this book, it is one of the best books I've read in along time.

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