Monday, 25 November 2013

This Book Does not Exist reviewed by Cally Phillips

This Book Does not Exist.  Mike Schneider. 

In looking for a frame of reference for this gem of a story, I can only note that I was underwhlemed by Catcher in the Rye when I read it, couldn’t work out what the fuss was about, either when I read it as a teenager in the ’70′s or as an adult last year. I guess in its day it was worth reading TBDNE is, in my opinion much better than Catcher. For me, it is what Catcher promised but didn’t deliver.  I like Douglas Coupland, but I like this a whole lot more because the characters are that much more appealling, more vulnerable and I care about them in a way I don’t care about any of Coupland’s characters.
The realness is really this books master stroke. The simple yet elegant and earnest prose draws you into the world of the writer and you believe him even when the most bizarre things happen  - you believe they are happening to him and so you accept the most ludicrous possibilities. That’s a really difficult thing for a writer to achieve. The prose equivalent of watching a really good dancer or ice-skater.
The writing is clever, compelling and the voice real. The emotion is palpable and the angst genuine. The narrative is well constructed and pacey. People overuse the phase ‘can’t put it down’ but in my case this was the literal truth. I really couldn’t put it down. I was glad for the first time I had an ereader so I could take it everywhere with me. If this ebook doesn’t become a classic – and I don’t mean a cult classic, I mean an honest to goodness true classic of modern American writing, it’s down to the shortsightedness of the mainstream media. I’d sign Mike Schneider up tomorrow if I could.  He’s far too good a writer to be a one-trick pony and I can’t believe he’s not ‘made it’ as a screenwriter yet, but then maybe he’s too real for the Hollywood system.  I implore you though, Mike, write us another novel and/or work on a screen version of TBDNE because I would pay good money to go and see a film version of this story.

Reviewed by Cally Phillips