Saturday, 7 January 2017

Lad, by Andrew Webber - a review

 Danny Small loves life just the way it is...

It's a cheeky Nando's. It's a big sesh down the gym. It's double shots of Sambuca. It's a scrap at closing time. It's a few Stellas before kick off. It's larging it in Marbella. It's not being tied down. It's working hard and playing harder. It's a relentless cycle of booze, birds and banter. It's the lad's life.

...but when everyone else is growing up and moving on, life in the fast lane gets pretty lonely.

Danny's mates are settling down. Girls are demanding commitment. His boss is onto his schemes. Even his mum's on his case. Does the banter finally have to stop, or does a real lad just crank it up a notch?

I read and reviewed Andrew Webber's novella - Today - earlier last year, so to speak. When I heard he'd released  - Lad - his debut novel, I knew it was going to be good. And I wasn't wrong.

Danny Small is a real Jack-the-Lad of a character. Estate agent by day, self-obsessed, self-preening Lothario every other minute he is a awake. He treats women as sex objects to fill his diary, women who, according to Danny, should be grateful for the opportunity. Danny is the definition of hedonism, liking nothing better than going to the gym, getting smashed with the lads, and trawling the night clubs for another notch on his huge bedpost . . .

I tell my writing students if they want to tackle the writing of a novel in the first person narrative, the narrator needs to be strong enough to, literally, carry the entire novel. It needs to feel as if the narrator is sitting in front of you, telling you his tale. Webber achieves this wonderfully well. It is an even greater achievement, considering how odious Danny can be at times. This, make no mistake, is fine, fine writing.

As the novel unfolds, we begin to get a different sense of Danny. We get the feeling there is more to him that meets the eye. There is a sense Danny has a story, that he wasn't always this way. We gain a deeper understanding of Danny, we realise his behaviour is merely a symptom of a deeper loss.

Do we exonerate Danny? It's a challenge, I must admit. But when even Danny realises enough is enough, it becomes easier.

But can one such as Danny ever really change?

Lad is a first rate novel, told by a writer in full command of his craft. I can't wait to see what Webber comes up with next . . . 

Lad is available on Kindle from Amazon UK here and in paperback here

Also available on Kindle from Amazon US here and in paperback here

You can find my review of Webber's Today here

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