Thursday, 28 July 2011

'A Writer's Life' - Eric Brown

I have read several books by Eric Brown so I know that his books are worth picking up. I was people browsing on Twitter when I came across Infinity Plus, a publisher aiming to bring back books that are out of print. A Writer’s Life caught my eye straight away. The blurb reminded me of Eric Brown's more recent book, Kings of Eternity, which I liked a lot. A Writer's Life was first published in 2001, but has now been republished in a digital format. Infinity Plus kindly provided me with a review copy of A Writer's Life.

Daniel Ellis is a writer, not a famous one, but good enough to make a comfortable living. His latest novel however was not successful enough for his publisher to grant him an advance for another book. His agent still believes in him and has secured some hack work for him: writing articles, book reviews and even novelising a computer game. Anyway, he does not feel like writing just now so these smaller jobs are perfect.

He lives together with his partner, Mina Pratt, and every other week her children comes to stay with them. They both love books, and when they have time they like exploring shops for old books together. It's on one of these book hunts that he first came across a book by Vaughan Edwards. Ever since he had read that entry in the encyclopedia about Edwards he had felt a kinship with the man. The man was a romantic like himself, capable of seeing the tragedy in the veneer of everyday life. Edwards had written many books with a trait of the supernatural, something his publisher and reviewers criticised him for.

After having finally read one of Edwards' books the feeling of kinship is intensified. To his disappointment Mina does not like the book as much. He wants to read more of Edwards' books and makes several enquires to book stores. He cannot quite explain why, but the connection he feels to Edwards and his work needs to be explored. Nothing could prepare him for what he is about to discover.

Eric Brown has created a very strong character, someone easy to sympathise with. Daniel Ellis is an ordinary man, just like you and me. Work is not going great and he does not feel his relationship is as good as it could be. Mina does not open up to him, it's always him that takes the initiative to intimacy and affection. She had a very difficult ex, but surely she could make more of an effort. Eric Brown makes a very convincing case with his protagonist. Carefully written descriptions brings the world to life around the characters. While reading I could see the bleak country side, wreathed in mists. There is a stillness to this story, with a hint of eeriness.

A Writer's Life is a beautifully written book about a man who is on a journey of self discovery. A journey down a long winded path through his own soul. He struggles to find himself, his inspiration for writing is gone. Mostly it is about love. What does it mean to really love some?

I enjoyed reading A Writer's Life and I hope you will too.

A Writer's Life weighs in at an unknown number of pages and is published by Infinity Plus.

Recommendation: must read

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