22 June, 2013

Starter for Ten

I've just finished reading "Starter for Ten" by David Nicholls. This is, I think, the third time that I've read this novel over the past few years--and it is exceptionally good, even on the third time of reading.

Somehow, Nicholls' descriptions of people and the way they behave, not to mention the way they feel, are just so apt. Many of us, I am sure, can relate to, or sympathise with, the inept protagonist, Brian, who as a nineteen-year-old university student is just so out of his depth--or at least that's how it feels to him. Other highly recognisable types are Brian's public school, rugger bugger housemates; the (again) public school blonde who is utterly beautiful, and knows it; and the angry Glaswegian with a heart of gold--the girl who we all know Brian should be with, really.

And, of course, the juxtaposition of university life with "The Challenge" is quite brilliant. The build up, the atmosphere, the Q&As as chapter openers. All great.

Before "Starter for Ten" I hadn't even heard of David Nicholls. And, in fact, it was the film of "Starter for Ten" that drew my attention to his work. I saw the trailer and immediately wanted to see the film. It was a nostalgia trip for me, really. I was at university in the 1980s and the music, The Challenge, the whole situation resonated with me. I loved it. Once I realised that the film was based on a book, I read the book. And I loved that too.

Of course, the novel for which Nicholls is really feted is "One Day". And that's a brilliant book too. Very sad, and a fantastic concept. Yet, somehow, I still prefer "Starter for Ten". Probably because it's set in a world that I am completely familiar with and fully understand. Although I spent significant amounts of time in my yoof watching the trashy late-night TV that features so heavily in "One Day" (whatever happened to Terry Christian...?), I was never a part of that world. Not in the showbiz sense, at least.

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