I’m always looking for a good book and one of my stops on the Internet is Michael Allen’s Grumpy Old Bookman. That’s where I found out about A Woman from Cairo by Val Landi, which I wanted, but couldn’t have. I wanted the book because it was getting rave reviews, but no publisher was willing to publish it.
Well, on March 31, I saw that Michael Allen’s book is going to be published. Did I know he was a fiction writer? No. Why?
“If you’ve been paying attention to the book world in general, you will know that the perceived wisdom these days is that a publisher should begin banging the drum for a book several months in advance of publication. After all, on this very blog you may have read reviews of books well before the publication date… Why then, have I never (well, hardly ever) mentioned my own new book until just before its publication date?”
Not only did I see that How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to Be Famous was soon to be published, but Allen had published many books, not all under his own name. He says:
“If you want to be taken seriously these days, you have to write a series of books in more or less the same style, like Jilly Cooper or James Patterson. In the 1970s I wrote three whodunits featuring a detective called Ben Spence. These were quite well reviewed and sold tolerably well. They were published in the UK, the USA, and a couple of other countries. So the smart thing to do would have been to go on writing more of that series. If I’d done that I might, just possibly, have achieved the same degree of success as Colin Dexter, with the Morse books, or Reginald Hill with Dalziel and Pascoe. But I got bored with writing whodunits and did other things instead.”
So, I am intrigued. Then yesterday I got an email from Allen that said in part:
“In the past two years, Michael Allen has reviewed a large number of novels on his widely-read blog, the Grumpy Old Bookman — and he has not always been enthusiastic about them. He has also had some uncomplimentary things to say about publishers, creative-writing degrees, slush-pile readers, and various other denizens of the book trade.”
So… Michael Allen can dish it out, all right. Question is, can he take it?
Well, now all those who have been subject to his criticism have the chance to find out. Because now this seriously eccentric Englishman has written a novel of his own. It’s called How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to Be Famous, and it was published in the UK, as a trade paperback, by Kingsfield Publications on 5 April 2006.
Anyone who would like to read this novel can do so today. You can download a FREE PDF file of the complete text. Just click on this link and you go straight to the Kingsfield Publications page, which tells you how to proceed.”
I just downloaded the complete file and read the first 12 pages and I’m hooked. One reason, Allen writes about a man named Con and I instantly pictured Michael Caine as Con:
‘Fancy a drink, Harry?’ he said. ‘I could do with one myself. I’ve been in the clinic too, like you.’
It never occurred to me to ask how he knew my name. As I said, I was a bit worried at the time, so I just assumed that he’d heard a nurse mention my name or something. Or perhaps we’d played darts and he remembered me from that.
Anyway, I certainly didn’t want a drink. ‘No thanks,’ I said. And kept walking.
Con, of course, didn’t give up. He never does. He just trotted along, keeping up with me, and went on prattling away. Can’t remember now what he said. But eventually he said, ‘Hard to take it all in really, isn’t it Harry?’
So I stopped and looked at him. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘I was in the clinic too, you know. Been there lots of times. And when you’ve had bad news it’s a good idea to stop and have a drink. Let your mind settle for a bit – especially before you drive. That’s what I always think.’
And before I knew where I was he’d wheeled me into a pub.
And in the short span of 12 pages, Michael Allen had me hooked.