The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 12 July 2010

St Swithin's Day

Last night, finished One Day by David Nicholls. The last thirty-odd pages were very... dehydrating. Nicholls used to write Cold Feet, the episodes that Mike Bullen didn’t write – have I mentioned how much I loved Cold Feet? Particularly series one, which is one of the most well-written things ever, in my humble opinion. One Day only concerns one couple, but it’s certainly the sort of book that’s designed to bring lumps to throats and, if it had a closing theme, it would probably be something a bit like Coldplay. But not shit. And 'designed' makes it sound cynical, contrived, when it’s anything but.

The book’s based around a boy and a girl, Emma and Dexter, and begins on July 15th 1988, with them both on the point of leaving university, and then revisits the two characters, on the same day, each year for the next two decades. Sounds gimmicky, but actually it's not. You get a strong sense of the characters developing, and their lives progressing (or stagnating), and their evolving relationships with each other, and the supporting characters, but it’s not as if each July 15th is necessarily a significant step.

And of course Emma and Dexter are made for each other, and of course it takes them most of those two decades to get together. Along the way, Dexter has a brief TV career, starting off as the next Terry Christian and ending up, like his Press Gang namesake, presenting computer game shows in the middle of the night. Emma begins her twenties working in a dead-end fast food outlet, becomes a teacher, and then finally starts following her dreams. Dexter has many one-night stands, and girls who are not right for him, while Emma spends trying to make things work with Ian, a hilariously unfunny would-be stand-up comedian, with whom every scene is an excruciating but irresistible combination of embarrassment and poignancy.

What the book’s about, though, is Emma and Dexter’s friendship, and about growing up over the last twenty years, the author presumably not being far off the characters’ ages. So you have New Labour and Britpop and the Iraq war and stuff, but handled with restraint, never gratuitous.

Looking over on Amazon it’s got 275 reviews and is average four and a half stars. That’s insanely good. I agree with the reviews; it’s engrossing, very funny, very charming, and for the last thirty pages, extremely dehydrating.

The last David Nicholls book I bought cost me 10p. This time I got it free as part of a 3-books-for-2 offer. At this rate, I’m hoping David Nicholls will be paying me to read his next book.

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