Monday, 19 January 2015

'A Model Partner' by Daniel Seery - #IrishFictionFortnight


I received a copy of this title, from Liberties Press, for review purposes...

Tom is on the hunt for a girlfriend.  Registering with a dating agency seem like the logical place to start, as he doesn't get out much.  After a multitude of disastrous 'matches', he realises that he may have to be more specific on his application form, or, even better, make up his own application form.  He struggles with the idea of what his ideal mate would look like, so with the help of a waxwork model, he creates a visual aide.  This creation takes a lot of effort to perfect, especially when the original waxwork, pilfered from a museum, was a male celebrity!  
Tom has a leaning towards obsessive compulsive behaviour and not many people 'get' him.  He can recite random facts from text books or documentaries and does not operate the normal 'filters' that apply in social settings.  A genuinely innocent, grown man, he lives alone and has a pretty boring life.  He wants to change this, but sometimes the simple things in life cause him so much stress that he hears buzzing in his head.   His quest for a woman in his life bring hilarious scenarios and yet still tug at the heartstrings...

Tom is a wonderful protagonist.  The reader can see how he operates from the get-go and the instinct to cheer him on is overpowering.  His daily battle with the grind of mundane life is magnified by his solitary existence and all he wants is to have some like-minded company.  The diverse range of characters that the author introduces, throughout the novel, are eclectic and often quiet bonkers.  I thought the book contained some of the best characters written in modern fiction, for a long time.  A chance encounter with a man selling wigs, for example, had me laughing out loud and the phone call which introduced him, was just brilliantly done.  
Tom had a difficult childhood, so it's not hard to see why he finds himself gripped by anxiety at times.  The novel flicks between two time frames; his adult self and back to childhood.  Some of the childhood parts are grey and jar with the overall theme of the book, but the further into the novel you get, the balance tips to an ideal level. 

 There are similarities to The Rosie Project by Graham Simpsion, in that they both have main characters who are dogmatically determined to find a mate, but I also found echos of earlier Roddy Doyle books, mainly The Barrytown Trilogy.  The Dublin setting, great dialogue and wonderful wit, made this a memorable package. Tom's world may be solitary, but it has so much to teach us.  Sometimes quirkiness is essential to maintain our individuality.  The world would be a very boring place otherwise.  And I would never have read about Tom, or indeed laughed along with some of the other characters, if we were all the same...

Highly Recommended 

A Model Partner is published by Liberties Press and is available in paperback and ebook format

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