“Left to his own devices, Karl Pilkington would be happy with his life just as it is. But now he’s hit forty, everyone keeps asking him why he won’t marry his girlfriend and why he doesn’t want to have kids. It’s time for Karl to face up to the big question – what does it all mean?’
Karl Pilkington is the author of 5 other bestselling books: ‘The World According to Karl Pilkington’, ‘Happyslapped by a Jellyfish’, ‘Karlology’, ‘An Idiot Abroad’ and ‘The Further Adventures of an Abroad’. He is probably best known as Ricky Gervais’s mate who will do anything and was part of the Guiness World Record-breaking podcast ‘the Ricky Gervais Show’, which was downloaded over 300 million times and went on to become an animation program for HBO in the USA.
I first came across Karl Pilkington on a family holiday in Dorset for my mum’s 60th birthday. We had hired a huge farmhouse cottage, with our own indoor swimming pool and a rustic kitchen complete with an aga, for 6 adults and 6 children. Once the younger kids were in bed we’d play card games and chat, but on one night my dad switched on the TV and there was Karl Pilkington on his show, of his book of the same name, ‘An Idiot Abroad’. Turns out my parents are huge fans of his and they spent the next 40 minutes in absolute stitches as Pilkington moaned about having to fit in with different cultures and was forced by his production team to eat the local market foods.
Pilkington is like a mixture between Victor Meldrew and Mike Wozowski from Monsters Inc. He’s a faithful companion that will do anything to get a laugh from his friends, but he’ll have a right old moan about it whilst he’s doing it.
‘The Moaning of Life’ see’s Karl travel the world to explore how different cultures deal with such themes as marriage, kids, vocation and money, happiness and death. Filled with ‘Karlisms’ such as “Getting a wedding invite is like being summoned to Jury service. You don’t want to go, but it’s very difficult to get out of”, facts, pictures and hilarious anecdotes it is a book to laugh out loud at, so if you are slightly self-conscious make sure you don’t read it on the train.
In much the same way as a child, he asks all of the questions you’re thinking but know you shouldn’t ask. Travelling to America to experience a typical Las Vegas wedding and comparing it with the week long marital celebrations of India he questions his own stance on marriage. Rather poignantly he ends the book with a chapter on death, my favourite part being where he visits a coffin makers workshop in Ghana and has a custom built coffin made for him and his girlfriend as an exact replica of a Twix bar.
Reading this book will perhaps make you change your own opinions about some of these themes, it will certainly make you take them a lot less seriously.
A fun, lighthearted read.
Next month’s book: ‘The Secrets of the Tides‘
“I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.”
Nathan Filer’s debut novel, ‘The Shock of the Fall, is a dark and deeply moving story which sees the main character, Matthew, struggle to come to terms with the event that causes the death of his brother Simon. Through a series of flashbacks we gradually piece together what happened on that fateful night and in much the same way that it is a revelation to the reader, it becomes an epiphany to Matt. Filer states that, ‘it is central to the novel that Matthew is physically writing his story, that this process takes times, happens in different locations, and that his life is continuing to move forwards as he writes about it”.
Simon’s death occurs very early on in the novel, whilst on holiday in Ocean Cove holiday village and is set amongst a backdrop of the dramatic and rather ominous landscape of Chesil beach and Portland. Having visited both these place myself it is clear why Filer chose this as the location for his novel as it’s starkness echo’s the struggle Matthew battles against in his head and the empty, bitterness that his Mother inflicts upon him after the tragic event.
Themes of mental health, family breakdowns, guilt and blame are all explored in this clever and compelling story. I became eager to find out what had happened to Simon and what part Matthew had to play in it. The chapters which have been written from the viewpoint of Matthew as a child are beautifully written capturing the wonderful relationship between the brothers. This childhood innocence continues as Matthew reaches adulthood where he seems incapable of leaving his childhood behind as he is haunted by his mother’s blame.
A great read which will leave you captivated and begging for more. I for one can’t wait to see what Filer writes next.
To find out more about Nathan Filer follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nathanfiler
Next month’s book: ‘The Moaning of Life’ by Karl Pilkington.
Without a doubt January is a pretty depressing month. The glitter and childlike excitement of Christmas has been and gone leaving behind the prospect of the return to work, an empty bank balance and a tighter, mince pie stuffed waistband.
But don’t forget this can be the start of something new and positive too. New promises of a healthier lifestyle and the prospect of starting something new, be it a new hobby or learning a new skill or even reading something completely different. And in this January, where it is still cold and the nights are still so dark what more of a perfect time is there to snuggle up of an evening with a good book. My New Year’s resolution to myself is to make it my mission to read at least one book a month. Not too difficult you might think, but it is very easy in our modern day hectic schedules to let this simple pleasure slip. But no more i cry, and as record of this i will be posting a book review each month to not only prove to myself and to others that I am sticking to my resolution but also hopefully to offer inspiration to others and offer some good reading recommendations. So sit back, take a sip of hot chocolate and curl up with a good book.