I wasn’t familiar with Francis Plug, the troubled comic creation of Paul Ewen, until I came across an amusing board in my local Waterstones set up in his honour. ‘The funniest book you will read this summer…’ it read along with a quite unusual guarantee….
Picture courtesy of @WaterstonesNG twitter feed
Fortunately, after finishing reading How To Be A Public Author I can assure Pete of Waterstones in Nottingham that his backside is safe!
This is a surreal, amusing look at the literary world through the eyes of Francis Plug – gardener, aspiring writer and drinker of copious amounts of wine. In his quest to pen a self-help book to assist fellow authors, Francis travels to meet writers of Man Booker Prize winning novels – with bizarre and hilarious consequences.
Plug’s observations are amusing and I was sniggering from the opening chapter when he likens the bottled water sitting untouched at author events to tasting like ‘something from an ornamental frog in a garden pond’ and smelling like a ‘wet mitten on a radiator’ Once he has taken in his surroundings (and half of the complimentary wine!) he then becomes involved in awkward conversations with authors and fellow event goers where you can almost feel them squirming through the pages.
This is ultimately a funny read but alongside the comedy there are more serious themes that come through. Despite his over-confident, irritating persona Francis has a vulnerable side. He is quite a lonely character who seems to be struggling with finding his feet. Ultimately he longs to write but has nothing much to show for it and his career as a gardener is sometimes called into question. This means that despite him causing havoc wherever he goes he seems to be quite likeable. In addition, there are observations in this novel about the state of the book industry today. Discounted bestsellers in supermarkets, independent store closures and the rise of celebrity books are all mentioned.
This was a fairly light, fun read. A humorous look at the literary world we all love. Well worth a read if you’re looking for a funny book with an even funnier protagonist!