by Stuart Evers (Picador) ISBN 9781447217404
After winning the 2011 London Book Award for Ten Stories About Smoking, I found Evers’s novel not entirely successful. The story centres on Mark Wilkinson, alias Joe Novak alias Mr Jones, who is trying to come to terms with his past.
Eighteen-year-old Mark was a young man, impatient to leave his English home village to start a new life in New York. He convinced his girlfriend, Bethany to join him. She promised her father to be the carnival queen the night before they were to leave and then something happens.
Mark leaves alone and takes on a new personality. With his new friend O’Neil he becomes a successful businessman, selling dreams to the ultra-rich in Las Vegas under yet another name. Slowly he starts to crack down and his former life catches up with him. His memories of his youth and what happened the night before his departure are weaved through the story and in his imagination the ghost from the past becomes real.
Evers is a good writer and there is a trace of melancholy in his story, but it did not keep me up all night.
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