I have mixed feelings about doing reviews when you're promoting your own books. And even more if you're reviewing a book by someone you know. I mean, how likely is it that I'd slate a book written by a mate? (Actually, how likely is it that I'd write a savage review of almost anything, but that's beside the point and would justify a post all its own.)
But if I write a glowing review, will you believe it?
Sod it. I don't care. I'm going to write it anyway and hope you take it at face value.
The book I'm on about is The Three Bears by Derec Jones aka Skint. And the reason I'm reviewing it in spite of the above reservations, is that it provided the most unique reading experience I can recall ever having.
The unnamed narrator speaks directly to his reader in the most intimate and personal way, to the extent that, at times, it doesn't feel as though you're reading words on a page, but have made the leap into the author's head, bouncing along neurological pathways, following his seemingly random thoughts.
But they're not random of course. Although the narrative hops about in time and in and out of present tense (even when dealing with the past), this is clearly a journey with a beginning, middle and end. (Except in a clever twist even these boundaries are blurred - the end is also the beginning and vice versa.)
Derec's heady stream of consciousness and the immediacy of his voice, draws us into each decade so that the reader needs to make little effort to see, feel and taste each era. Every word is chosen with care - the man is also an accomplished poet, remember. There's profound humanity lurking in these pages; questions posed that some would prefer remain unasked; challenges to comfortably-held perceptions.
In an ideal world - one where book publishing wasn't driven by commerce and greed and narrow perceptions of genre - The Three Bears would be in every bookshop and translated into every language. It would probably never achieve mass market status, nor could it ever be mainstream, but I'm convinced there would be many people out there who would be inexorably drawn into this unique and compulsive reading experience, as I was.
Luckily, Derec had the vision and drive to ensure we had access to this and his other books. Go here to order them.