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Byron Easy is a modern, Byronic hero with all the snarky personality and traumatic family history of the late 19th century poet, Lord Byron It s not just that Cook has drawn a Byronic character flawlessly, but that at the same time, he s conjured everyone s broken story You hold this weighty book in your hands, lying in bed with the lid of an ugly past ripped off No daylight to scorch out the feelings that hit too close to home, no busy errands or calls to make People in the present to keep you grounded in the here and now When the author addresses the reader, it breaks the bounds of a fictional story in a good way, reminding you that you are not Byron Easy Life is good The storyline follows Byron Easy as he takes a train north to visit family he doesn t want to see The story is like a familiar bridge between childhood trauma and the inevitable first failed marriage The lost twenties where you have to pull yourself up and out of your own garbage Each stop along the way unearths some fresh memory of his childhood and recent but very necessary divorce from Mandy, the ball buster She s everything men hate about women, all wrapped up into one anti christ of a wife Without a redeeming bone in her body, she drags our wimpy protagonist through the narrow streets of their shitty London neighborhood without even a whiff of conscious It s easy to feel sorry for Byron, but at times you want to slap some man into him, much like his masculine wife If Lord Byron were alive today, I think he d love this modern take on his life story and character A warning to writers You may feel compelled to throw your keyboard through a window after reading this book as Cook s prose is some of the most eloquent sarcasm you ll ever read. Very ambitious bildungsroman by a very clever but very undisciplined writer Linguistically inventive clearly intelligent The story is about a failed poet in the aftermath of a failed relationship, hitting a figurative bottom on Christmas Eve, 1999 His marriage with the impossible, and impossible to like, Mandy is done and duster he s broke, and heading home to Leeds Every stage of the journey gives him ample opportunity to ruminate on his recent past and the distant past , but I predict that no reader not a one will find it easy to sympathize because Mandy is such a hateful human being the uber shrew Cook is too eager to show off his remarkable knowledge of, and gift with, words, but he is a talent, for sure. A great bit rumbustious shag of a novel.Pity poor Byron Easy A sensitive soul adrift on the indie pop afflicted streets of 90s Camden, Byron is afflicted by a bad case of fin de millennium self absorption On the Christmas Eve drunk tank train from Kings Cross to Leeds he reviews the events and characters of his life Chief amongst these is his brilliantly observed Spanish wife, Mandy I ve no idea how autobiographical this debut novel is, but I suspect Jude Cook is drawing on personal experience I also loved the depiction of North London music biz types Or wankers, as they arecommonly called Poetic, poignant, clever and occasionally bloody hilarious, Byron Easy is a tremendous read It s a chunky tome, and the investment pays off Five stars, from the first booze sodden cigarette to the final tears. I love travelling by train Even when I m held up because there are leaves on the line or thieves have stolen cabling, I love to stare out the window, sweeping past fields, trees, even pheasants, deep in thought Journeying by train seems to have the same effect on Byron Easy, a broke poet, as he makes his journey in the aftermath of a failed relationship.Each time the train stops at a station, in this debut by Jude Cook, Byron is reminded of his experiences and relives them in his mind At first, I thought the author had started sharing backstory way too early and then I discovered that the story is Byron s reflections on life so far He describes action succinctly but lets his thoughts surrounding these events go on for pages So much so that, although the novel follows him by rail from London to Leeds, it feels as if he s travelling from Southampton to Scotland on a Segway via a dusty section of the Oxford English Dictionary.Fortunately, Byron, although depressed and self absorbed, is comic company He addresses readers directly, after his second or third glass of lunchtime Rioja straight from the bottle , sharp in sarcastic wit, thoughts increasingly verbose, indulging even insignificant characters with paragraphs of thought Like the dentist he visited as a child He describes spitting a mouthful of alarmingly black blood into his bidet or sink or whatever makeshift apparatus he d stolen for such purpose and how only thousands of pounds of Harley Street orthodontia will enable me to speak Spanish now, the mother tongue of Mandy, his estranged wife.I struggled to understand how Byron got so involved with Mandy As he s such a considered thinker, I found it hard to imagine him agreeing to marry her on a whim and going through with it especially with her explosive temperament She has no redeeming features either Okay, nice legs maybe Mandy s calculating behavior reminded me somewhat of Amy in Gone Girl without the thrilling, mysterious edgeRead the full Literary Lightbox review here www.literarylightbox.com byron easy b It s Christmas eve, on the dawn of the Millennium, and cynical, self loathing, lonely, and depressed Byron Easy is taking an arduous train journey from London to Leeds to visit his mother Thankfully, it s not that arduous for the reader as we are treated to a new refreshing and enlightening male voice in the form of debut novelist Jude Cook s messed up protagonist.As we join Byron, it s obvious that he s just come out of a very difficult and volatile relationship, and as we progress we getof an insight into Mandy, the beauty with a very dark side Alongside Byron s recollections about Mandy we get a full run down of his past his many jobs, friendships and the loves that got away are all given the wannabe poets treatment and very rarely do any of them come away smelling of roses Where Byron s memories are most evocative and Cook s writing at it s best is in the chapters covering his childhood and early home life It s obvious from the outset that Byron has serious self esteem issues, which over the course of time has an effect on all of his relationships, and it s in the chapter Home that we start to see the root of these issues.Very rarely does Byron refer to his parents as mum and dad , much preferring first name terms, nicely underlining the detachment that he feels from these people for whom there is an obvious mutual love, but a complete inability to show it Cook gives Byron a beautifully evocative and understated voice for this chapter, which for once doesn t overpower the narrative, instead choosing to let Byron s memories and possibly those of the reader drive the story forward.This simpler narrative is a welcome break from Byron s dips into his notebook where he takes on the voice of his namesake while recording either what he experiences on his journey or recalls from his past journal entries, and it s this recounting where I occasionally came unstuck with the novel For a novel that touches brilliantly I may add on the male image, depression, self worth and the place of the self aware man in society, being regularly told something worse is coming caused the book to be closed and not opened for a day or two It s certainly not a novel that can be read in one go you will need a break, especially towards the last third, a section which should possibly come with a trigger warning as events unfold in a graphic and heartbreaking manner Whilst sometimes infuriating, it s obvious that Jude Cook is a talented writer and definitely one to watch for the future and he should be applauded for writing about depression and abuse from a male perspective, something that is seriously lacking from mainstream literature Disclaimer This review was based on an advanced review copy supplied by NetGalley in return for an unbiased review OMG, what a long sorry tale of dysfunctional marital life, domestic abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts Thankfully, our much put upon titular narrator tells his story with welcome lashings of caustic humour and self deprecation It s an impressive writing debut and cleverly constructed if a little indulgent at times. Many thanks to Netgalley, Jude Cook, and Pegasus Publishing for allowing me an advanced reader copy of Byron Easy.This book is a marathon not a sprint The writing is brilliant and full and extremely dense and the main character has a completely phrenetic yet intriguingly beautiful way of looking at the world As you can probably tell from the jacket, this is not a feel good kind of book It s the story of a drunk, broke, depressed, wanna be author told in a combination of flashback and present tense that somehow works together to create the story Not everyone is going to love this and I can t say that I really loved it in the way I wanted to but there were moments of true brilliance hidden in these pages as well as madness and extreme self indulgence.Fans of Kerouac and Vonnegut will be incredibly comfortable between the covers of this story Goodreads rating right between 3 and 4 stars but the fact that this book took me a full month to slog through had me round it down. *Free Kindle ⇪ Byron Easy ★ It S December Th,Byron Easy, A Poverty Stricken Poet, Half Drunk And Suicidal, Sits On A Train At King S Cross Station Waiting To Depart In His Lap Is A Backpack Containing His Remaining Worldly Goods An Empty Wine Bottle, A Few Books, A Handful Of Crumpled Banknotes As The Journey Commences, He Conjures Memories Both Painful And Euphoric Of The Recent Past, Of His Rollercoaster London Life, And, Most Distressingly, Of Mandy His Half Spanish Ian Wife In An Attempt To Make Sense Of His Terrible And Ordinary PredicamentWhat Has Led Him To This Point Where Are His Friends, His Family, His Wife What Has Happened To His Dreams And What Disturbing Plan Awaits Him At The End Of His Journey Byron Easy Is An Epic, Baroque, Sprawling Masterpiece Of A Novel A Unique Portrait Of Love And Marriage, Of The Flux Of Memory, And Of England In The Dying Days Of The Twentieth Century From A Young British Writer Of Exceptional Promise I was drawn in by a really quite lovely use of language, but around the halfway point, it began to feel incredibly self indulgent However, the titular character is a failed, self indulgent writer, so I suppose it s only to follow that it would go in this direction Would love to see a collection of short stories from this author. Possibly the most annoying book I have read for a long time The narrator is both unreliable and completely unlikeable The story shifts backward and forwards telling the story of his miserable life Don t read this book if you have a tendency to depression as you will be suicidal by the end of the turgid, long winded account.