A seemingly run of the mill Saturday night in Auld Reekie turns into a mind melting twelve hour roller coaster ride for three strangers. Beth, Amber and George are brought together by a string of coincidences that will change the course of their lives forever in this debut novel from esteemed short story writer Vicki Jarrett.
Beth is a shy chip shop worker with little to no ambition for her life, but when Amber, an outgoing stripper from the club across the road walks into her shop, it sets off a chain of events that force Beth to re-evaluate her life choices. A whirlwind adventure involving gangsters, guns, a briefcase full of money, a creaky old chip van and a man in a monkey suit ensues.
I have had a penchant for stories that take place in the space twenty four hours or less ever since I first saw Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise when I was seventeen. Constructing well rounded characters and a story arc that doesn't feel forced or farcical within such a limited time frame takes a great deal of skill to pull off. Having devoured all the films I could find that fit the bill I swiftly moved on to novels and it was this search that led me to Nothing is Heavy. Reading the synopsis alone I knew it was just my cup of tea but it sat on my Amazon wish list for over a year before I finally bought a copy. Having now read it, I implore you to learn from the error of my ways and waste not one more second before purchasing a copy for yourself.
It manages to find the perfect balance between comedy and drama. It would have been easy for it to tip too far either side of the scale and a lesser writer could have made a real hash of it, but it is spot on. When a novel can make you laugh on one page and want to cry on the next, you know you've found a winner. The characters are dynamic and interesting and although the collection of coincidences that tie them together are the kind that only occur in films and novels, you still buy into them. A lot of novels are dubbed 'page turners' but that phrase couldn't be more accurate for this one. I am generally a short burst reader, usually two chapters at a time, but I ploughed through this one in record time.
A good novel will lift you out of your day to day life and offer a brief respite from the monotony. A great novel will make you appreciate that monotony and show you the beauty of it. It may even make you feel like you have wings.
Grab a copy from Amazon (UK), Amazon (US) or direct from the publisher Linen Press. Seriously. Do it.