Saturday, July 02, 2005

Googling the Nov

My second novel. Still causing incredibly small controversies...

Like many authors, I imagine, I frequently Google my own name, and the names of my books, to see if anyone remembers me - or them. Usually I draw a blank, or the usual 125 hits, but this morning was a bit different. I found two new reviews of my second novel, Kissing England. This is encouraging, as the book was published five years ago, and it's nice to see it's still being read and remarked upon. That said, though, I have to confess the reviews were a little mixed.

Here's the first, the nice one:

'Sean Thomas’s “Kissing England” is a hilarious and, at times embarrassingly accurate look at what it means to be English in a modern day society. One of the few books that has made me laugh out loud in a long time, he incorporates wit and honesty to create a fantastic piece of literature.

The novel follows the lives of Eddie, Alex and Tony, three University friends grown “old”, as they try to define themselves in an ever-changing world. Each of these symbolises one of the areas that many modern people, both men and women, may be struggling with. Alex; womaniser, pervert, writes for various magazines as the lad of the pack. Often sexist and frequently racist, he is desperate to express his lesser-seen side, which is in fact sensitive, wildly in love with his 18-year-old girlfriend and very serious about England and Englishness. Where as all he writes about is sex, women, sex, race, sex, bollocks, sex and sex, his ultimate dream is to write about being English, politics and what he feels about relevant issues such as Europe, the Euro and the like.

The novel is very recent (first published in 2000) so many of the ideals and attitudes it contains will still be poignant for the reader. Next we come to Tony. Tony is married to Elizabeth who (and I steal a quote from the blurb now) “he suspects of sleeping with the entire world except himself”. A slightly more withdrawn character, Tony embodies the uncertainties and lack of self-confidence felt by many people, not excluding myself.

In a world where everyone wants everything that someone else has, and where bigamy is not only no longer considered taboo, but is almost encouraged in some societies, Tony feels that he has lost his wife and indeed their children because he feels fat, bald and old. I confess that I can’t imagine what it feels like to feel bald and old being only 20 with a rather too thick mass of hair, but it is the symbol that people never feel that what they have in the way of looks is adequate. The media is constantly telling us to change the way we looking, marketing products too help us look hairier, thinner and younger, hardly encourages people to feel good about themselves.

And finally Eddie, at a first glance he has it made. Dole fraud is his sole source of income, and why not want to get a bit back of the state after giving so much out? Also having a serious drug problem, does tint his character slightly, although very few of the negative effects of drug abuse are evident throughout a great deal of the novel. Not to say for a second that Thomas condones drug taking in anyway, I just do not wish to ruin the novel by detailing Eddie’s eventual comeuppance.

An air of mystery surrounds the novel, a sense that something happened in the past and this alone was enough to keep my interest sustained so that I actually finished it within 3 days. As well as this though, superb characterisation, a brilliant sense of humour and a million and one things that make you think “that is so true” make this book a sure choice for anyone who enjoys a good read. One thing that could be a bit of putting is that Thomas uses a great deal of harsh language and blatancy, which can often be offensive.

I would say in his defence, however, that the language is not out of context and not just put in for the sake of it. Overall one of the most enjoyable novels I have read for a very long time. I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone.'

Not bad, eh? The second review was slightly less enthusiastic. Here it is, from

'This is absolute drivel. I was told Mr Thomas was an award winning author! I now find out it was for writing 'the worst literary sex!'. The 'winning' passage is quite possibly the most ridiculous text I have ever read. Besides being difficult to read because of the sub- comic book writing style, it is self indulgent, mysogenistic rubbish! This man makes a living out of writing this dross? I suppose someone, somewhere must actually like ploughing through this incomprehensible nonsense, when they are not instead inflicting physical harm upon themselves!To sum up DREADFUL!'

On the whole, I think I prefer the first one.
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