I can’t remember the last time I published a review of Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey on this blog. Generally, I try to keep my book business and random ramblings quite separate (until the sequel, Turkey Street, comes out, that is). But when I was sent an out-of-the blue critique from a total stranger in a distant land, unconnected to me or Turkey, I was rather taken aback and felt compelled to share it. Not as a boast, you understand, but as a humble thank you.
“I would like to buy Jack a drink or five. He and Liam present as the kind of people I would like to know. “Perking the Pansies” conveys personality right from the start. I was instantly interested in knowing and understanding the characters.
Jack doesn’t spare the truth. His descriptions of characters strip away all the pretentions and leave them exposed for who they really are instead of who they pretend to be. That is an uncomfortable feeling and yet I did not get the impression that he was being cruel or hateful. It is uncomfortable because the truth often is.
It is also funny as hell. The use of figurative language is superb. I had to stop and write down quite a few memorable lines just to make sure I don’t forget them. The line “…his distracting buns quivering like two piglets in a sack,” comes to mind. Then his little aside about trying to find “… something funny to say about faulty alarm cocks,” is another good example. I can imagine the frustration of writers block when such a marvelous circumstance presents itself. It was funny and it created a connection to the author.
The book’s greatest strength is the connection to the author. Reading it gives such an intimate look at the life and thoughts of the writer that you come out of it feeling like you know him. He becomes a real person. Obviously the book is written much like a journal, relaying a first person account of everything, but that is not the true source of the realism. It is honesty. The little details like Jack standing in the mirror making a face lift with his fingers are so true to life that you have to believe it. It doesn’t matter if everything written is literally true or not, the effect creates truth.
I found myself rooting for Jack and Liam not to give up. I wanted them to stay in Turkey and make a happy life. Sometimes their naïveté scared me. When Liam says that “We’re infidels and Hell-bound anyway so it hardly matters what we get up to,” I was afraid for them. Religious fundamentalists are not known for rational thinking. So many things could go wrong. When Uzgun was killed it highlighted the potential danger. I was vicariously proud of the courage and fortitude Jack and Liam showed by staying in Turkey. The message is a good one. Things will only change if everyday people are brave enough to live everyday lives.
It was great. I can’t wait to read the sequel.”
Helpfully, Destin also posted a cut-down version of the review on Amazon.com. Good reviews do sell books and every little helps as they say at Tesco’s. This diminutive, myopic, ex-pretty boy with his best years behind him is chuffed to bits and eternally grateful to all you kind reviewers. Thank you.