Synopses & Reviews
It's December 24th, 1999. Byron Easy, a poverty-stricken poet, half-drunk and suicidal, sits on a train at King's Cross Station waiting to depart. In his lap is a backpack containing his remaining worldly goods—an empty wine bottle, a few books, a handful of crumpled banknotes. As the journey commences he conjures memories (both painful and euphoric) of the recent past, of his rollercoaster London life, and, most distressingly, of Mandy—his half-Spanish Amazonian wife—in an attempt to make sense of his terrible—and ordinary—predicament.
What has led him to this point? Where are his friends, his family, his wife? What has happened to his dreams? And what disturbing plan awaits him at the end of his journey?
Byron Easy is an epic, baroque, sprawling masterpiece of a novel—a unique portrait of love and marriage, of the flux of memory, and of England in the dying days of the twentieth century from a young British writer of exceptional promise.
"This ambitious debut from an English musician turned writer is linguistically inventive and undeniably clever, but the novel, about a failed poet in the aftermath of a failed relationship, is overwrought and overwritten. The poet, Byron Easy, has never had it easy, but he has definitely hit bottom when the novel opens on Christmas Eve of 1999 in a London train station. He is returning to his mother and Leeds, much the worse for wear, 'a penniless loser' and reeling from his disastrous marriage to Mandy. The journey through England gives Easy the chance to ruminate on the hellishness of contemporary life (which is to say: the hellishness of his own existence), and provides Cook a frame for Easy's backstory, from his dysfunctional family and childhood to the trials and tribulations of making it in London. But the bulk of the narrative is devoted to the agonies inflicted on him by Mandy, one of the most accomplished shrews in the history of literature. Mandy is unspeakably horrific: manipulative and petulant, cruel and abusive. It's hard to find any reason to like her, which makes it hard to feel much sympathy for the narrator, though Cook goes to great lengths too great, ultimately, both in terms of length and action to make Easy sympathetic. Cook is funny and perceptive, an over-the-top stylist with an immense vocabulary but he needs a more credible and engaging plot to put his obvious abilities to work. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Daring, moving, imaginative and, above all, funny. This is a great debut from a promising novelist." The Sunday Mirror
"The style is impressively realistic and intelligent." WaketheDeaf.co.uk
"Jude Cook demonstrates a remarkable level of self-assurance in his command of language. An
"Ravishing in its evocations of beauty, sexual candor, suspense, and unusual insights into the soul-battering consequences of abuse and violence. Cook's debut gathers force as a rolling and rocking ballad of survival and love." Booklist
" " The New York Times Book Review
By a daring new literary talent, meets in an exuberant debut novel following one man's terminal train journey home.
About the Author
Jude Cook studied English Literature at UCL, and was a musician and songwriter for the band Flamingoes. Byron Easy is his first novel. He lives in London.