I downloaded the complete book How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to Be Famous by Michael Allen, the blogger at Grumpy Old Bookman, read the first 12 pages, and Allen had me hooked. The book is a liitle over 200 pages and I read it in big chunks at a time on my computer.
One reason I why was hooked after reading those first 12 pages is that Allen writes about a man named Con and I instantly pictured Michael Caine as Con. (I just love to read English accents. My mouth starts moving to imitate the sounds Allen has put in my head.)
‘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.
How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to Be Famous is about Harry, a divorced man who has not been able to see his daughter Lisa since she was five years old. As the author puts it:
But Harry still loves Lisa more than anyone else in the world; and he worries about her future because she was born without a left foot. When Harry is offered the chance to win a million pounds for Lisa, by taking part in a reality TV show, he immediately accepts. All he has to do is find a woman who is willing to risk her life for him – and he has just three months to do it.
On one level, this is a satire on the ultimate “reality show”. Find a person in three months who will risk her life for you and film it all, including the unprotected act itself complete with “fireworks”, all for the TV audience.
Told in simple sentences, at times profane, but with morality, Allen asks: Can you really ask a woman you have come to love to potentially sacrifice herself for your daughter’s financial security? What does the emotional crisis do to you and where do you seek calm?
There’s a very touching scene when Harry sits in church with his friend the vicar, Mr Redmond, who hears Harry’s confessions regarding the show, Lisa, Debbie, and the contract with the studio. The minister prays for Harry and lays his hands on Harry’s shoulders. To Harry, it feels like God’s warmth and love flows through the vicar’s hands and Harry breaks down.
How and Why Lisa’s Dad Got to Be Famous is a book that you can wheel through like a semi-driver or savor like the finest steak from the midwest.