Francis Plug – How To Be A Public Author (Galley Beggar Press, 2014)

This isn’t a review really, just a straight up recommendation. I love this book. It is very good. I think that if you read it you will enjoy it. I’m basing that belief on the fact that I read it this week and I enjoyed it very much.

OK, I can do slightly better than that.

In Francis Plug, Paul Ewan has created a brilliant comic creation, a man who is the author of a book about navigating/surviving the British literary scene, and his own downfall. Each chapter sees him visit a reading by a Booker winning author to get his book signed. As a rule, things go awry. There is an overarching narrative too, of course there is, but I’ll skip over that because of spoilers and the like.

Jesus, I am bad at book reviews. I used to write them for a website you know, but one day they stopped replying to my e-mails. Can’t say I blame them really. Look at that last paragraph. It’s absolute dog shit.

OK, me. Try again. From the start…

Part of me thinks quarantine is a time to finally read the big books I’ve always meant to get round to. You know, the classics. For me that means, Middlemarch, Crime and Punishment, Dune, and Polo. For you, something similar but different but, you know, that sort of thing. However, having a seven-year-old means that lockdown has left me with less time to read, not more, so I’m concentrating on things that are enjoyable to read and (if possible) not dystopian or plague-y. How To Be A Public Author scores on both counts. Unusually for a book written by a male author, it is also very funny.* There is tragedy there too, seeping through the excellent jokes about supermarkets selling books, and what is surely the finest Eddy Grant reference in modern fiction,** if you hanker for that sort of thing. A little rough with the smooth or what have you.

Cool. OK. That’s three hundred words.

Just buy it and read it already, yeah?


* I don’t mean to imply that men aren’t capable of being funny. Of course they are. Some of my best friends are funny men. It’s just that a lot of men seem to think that if you write a book without any humour in it, it in some way becomes ‘real’ And ‘true’. You know the sort of men I mean. The ones that don’t realise The Trial is a comedy. Those idiots.
** and old fiction too, by default, I guess. Eat that, Shakespeare, eh?