This appeared today on Amazon:
Really funny and pacy. Some of the writing is reminiscent of P G Wodehouse. Very witty and accurate descriptions of London mixed with complete fantasy.
There’s very little I like more than hearing that people like my book, especially when they have no reason to be nice about it. This reviewer is anonymous, but I’m pretty sure she’s not my mum. (Why do I think this is a woman? I don’t know. The soubriquet is ‘SR “Solipsist”‘, which doesn’t give much away, except for a good vocabulary. Then again, women have, on average, larger vocabularies than men, and they read more.) Anyway, thank you very much, SR. Your review is concise yet specific: a model of its kind. And I apologise if I’ve mistaken your gender.
P.S. Thanks too to S Beaton, whose Amazon review I’ve also just noticed. I’m very glad that TPAOJF has made it to Japan.
Today I’m overjoyed by this review by the beautifully named Alfred Hickling in the Guardian:
Anyone suspicious that the publishing industry may be run by a small group of corporate-minded killjoys will applaud the DIY-ethic of Shevlin, who has published this quirky comic novel himself. The perpetually astonished hero finds himself in a conspiracy involving murder and the theft of cabinet-level documents, having done no more than give directions to a large man wearing a balaclava on the Holloway Road (mental note: men in balaclavas are either thugs or terrorists, unless they have very poor circulation in their ears). Shevlin’s offbeat brand of urban absurdism should appeal to anyone susceptible to Nicola Barker’s whimsy, though the penchant for made-up onomatopoeic verbs can become a bit trying: “scooshed”, “tocked” and “prunked” in a paragraph about parking a car. But you can’t help being tickled by Shevlin’s view of Covent Garden as a place “thick with mildly diverting notions which now had their own branded carrier bags”; or the Holloway Road afflicted by “the North London disease that turns any unwary building into a chicken shop”.
It should appear in the paper this Saturday, or possibly the next (i.e. the 13th)…
Well, I’ve now read the Metro review. Here it is:
Self-publishing has its successes, as EL James’s racy ebook series, initially posted on a fansite, proved. Yet there are reasons why editors and publishers exist, as demonstrated by Christopher Shevlin’s debut novel.
That’s not to say that The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax isn’t a good book – it is and Shevlin was rightly picked up by the literary agency that represents the likes of David Nicholls. However, it could have been great: the comic hero is caught up in a murder plot that unravels into a political thriller, which is by turns absurd and engaging.
Although the plotting can be confusing, the perceptive one-liners reveal an author unafraid to laugh at the concept. At one point, Fairfax muses that reading a secret file makes him feel like he’s in a film, although only ‘the sort that would be on TV on a Wednesday morning’. Yet the same page has ‘she thought Kathy new what she was doing’ – the book is full of errors. Also, Fairfax’s bumbling astonishment at everything gets wearing – surely something an editor would have ironed out.
Well, here we are. I cycled and Tubed all over London this evening trying to get an early copy of Stylist, only to find that my housemate had one. Here is the (extremely nice) review from their Book Wars section at the back of the magazine. I’ll start with their verdict – but read on for the full review.
(You can also read the review of Perpetual Astonishment on Stylist’s website.)
Exuberant is the word that comes to mind when describing this book. It’s one of those reads you can take an age to get through – simply because you find yourself re-reading joyous passages of comedy and revelling in the carefully constructed characters. One scene involving a murderer, a gym manager and a copy of The Cat In The Hat left one of our reviewers giggling helplessly. It’s a rare book that does this. Utterly recommended.
(And here’s the rest of the review…)
Thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, independent publishing is in the spotlight, so we’re putting two new self-published titles to the test
Stylist.co.uk’s online writer Anna Brech backs The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax by Christopher Shevlin
Not many books make me laugh out loud, but The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax is one of them. Like Comfortably Awkward, it stars a hapless and bumbling lead – Jonathon – who is struggling to come to terms with life in the urban fast lane. But while I found Albert Ferenzo’s never-ending neuroses over corporate life in New York grating, Jonathon’s foot-in-mouth persona is wonderfully endearing and acts as a perfect launch pad for the rest of the story. Continue reading
I’ve been made ridiculously happy this afternoon by someone I don’t know giving Perpetual Astonishment a five-star review on Amazon. It has increased my determination to rate every book I like from now on: I had never realised the huge pleasure it gives. It is at least as nice as getting that Lego spaceship when I was six, or taking ecstasy that time when I was twenty.
Next time you see me, I’ll have given English Weather by Neil Ferguson a five-star review, because that’s what I’m reading at the moment.
This is it here:
My book has been reviewed by Sarah Castell (an improviser with Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, among much else) on Amazon and on her lovely blog, here: http://sarahcastell.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/review-of-a-funny-book-which-reminds-us-all-why-we-should-all-be-more-astonished/
It’s pretty much exactly how I hoped people would respond to the book:
This book is, in a way, a manifesto for us all to recapture our childlike state of astonishment with the world. Which is good. It comes from a happy place and made me laugh. I liked it.
This is a relief, since I haven’t shown the book to anyone in ages, and the good feeling I got when people liked it then (and particularly when it got me an agent) has largely worn off, especially since it was rejected by publishers. Their categorising it as “black comedy” always seemed a bit odd to me. I know that someone’s murdered in the first chapter, but I’ve always seen it as being quite a sunny, innocent book.
I’m very glad that’s how it seemed to Sarah too.