Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 (2014)

Author: J.B. Morrison  |  Page Count: 304

'He already had his free TV licence and bus pass.  Even though there was nothing on television and nowhere to take the bus to.'

J.B. Morrison is Jim Bob, who at one time was half of the phenomenally semi-successful music act Carter USM. I admit it was entirely due to my love for the band’s music that I checked out Frank Derrick. The clever word play in the title made me wonder prior to reading if we would see a return to the fiery satire of Jim Bob’s lyric writing style, or if it would more closely resemble the deeply poignant feelings of abandonment that 'Granny Farming in the UK' gave rise to. The text is neither; or rather it’s both but filtered through a more subtle and sensitive screen door. It's comedy with a thoughtful slant that's sweet but never artificial.

Frank of Fullwind-on-Sea is a cynical duffer with a healthy distrust of others. He's an active sort who frequents the charity shops and buys crap he doesn't need. He looks upon the curtain-twitchers in his neighbourhood with disdain, but often his vantage point is from behind his own twitching curtain. When an accident lessens Frank's independence some home-help is arranged. He resents the idea completely, fearing the worst: she'll treat him like a child; she'll steal his life savings! But Frank had been wrong about people before. Who's to say...?

Jim Bob's style is descriptive and wry. His sentences frequently take lengthy strides when a shorter, more direct approach could've conveyed the same information more succinctly. They're rambling, some might say, but I'm a rambler, too, so it wasn't a problem for me. I actually liked it; it showed that he was being honest with himself and his readers, not trying to mimic another's style. He wisely litters comedy throughout, instead of always holding back for a killer punchline.

The only thing I really disliked was the half a dozen movie spoilers. They were old movies and their inclusion was relevant to Frank's tragic situation, but that's no excuse. They were spoilers no matter how you spin it. Speaking of which, if the book was to be filmed it would most likely be an indie, suitable for the likes of HandMade Films, and in a perfect world it would star Michael Caine.

3½ mantelpiece giraffes out of 5

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