Many of you will realise that the title of this bonus posting shares its name with the title of a song by Gene. What you might not realise, until you look at the accompanying image, is that it also shares its name with the title of a new book by author Martin Pond. What you might also not realise is that Martin has been an occasional contributor to this blog and that his place, New Amusements, is one to which I provide a link.

Martin didn’t get in touch with me to ask for a plug for his book, which is his first full-length novel, fully self-funded and available through Amazon, although if he did I would have been happy to help out. I only picked up he’d penned the work after reading a review by Rol over at My Top Ten. Martin had mentioned the book at New Amusements but it was during that period in late 2017 when all sorts of things prevented me keeping up with all that was appearing in so many great blogs.

I’m not the greatest at trying to put down on paper why it is I like or dislike most forms of art, be it in the visual or performing sense, and I’m not great at turning my hand to book reviews beyond those that are autobiographical and on someone I’m familiar with. But I really want to try to do so today in the hope that some of you may be persuaded to pick up a kindle or physical copy of Martin’s book.

Drawn to the Deep End is the tale of Peter Potter, a 30-something single man who lives and works in Cambridge. Anyone observing him from a distance would think he was an ordinary enough bloke who inhabits an ordinary enough world – one of those dependable and likable enough guys who just gets on with things and deals with the ups and downs of life without any real problems. As the book unfolds, however, it becomes clear to the reader, if not to Peter himself, that he is a lonely, vulnerable and despairing man who actually isn’t very good at dealing with adversity and who has a dreadful habit of making the wrong decision in almost every situation he faces.

Peter is a brilliantly drawn character, someone who will run the full gamut of your emotions and catch you off-guard every now and again; you will have empathy and sympathy one moment but it won’t be too long before you want to grab him by the throat and shout ‘what the fuck??’ into his face to get him to see sense. The book is also populated by a cast of wonderful co-stars, especially from the world of work where the sheer one-dimensional aspect of so many of them struck a chord, given my own experiences in different offices over the past 30+ years with colleagues who have displayed many of the traits on show across the 230-odd pages – I might even admit, with a sense of shame, of seeing something of my younger cocky and arrogant self in parts of the minor characters. It is a book that also contains some of the most moving passages anyone will ever read on just how difficult, draining, frustrating and ultimately heart-breaking it is to be responsible for a demented and elderly parent.

Martin Pond has delivered something that is overwhelmingly intense and quite demanding, but not without humour, often of the blackest kind. It is contained across three chapters, ‘Deep’, ‘Deeper’ and ‘Deepest’, followed by a short epilogue; the story unfolds like a play or a feature film that I would have likely devoured in one sitting a few years ago when I could read for hours not worrying about a lack of sleep and needing to to work the next day.

It comes highly recommended and is available from here.

mp3 : Gene – Drawn To The Deep End