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How To Disappear Completely - David Bowick

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Genre: Fiction / Author: David Bowick / Format: Kindle Edition

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    2 Reviews
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      14.04.2012 12:11
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      Quirky novel but I felt sorry for the poor dog!

      In his own words Josh is a 20 something, deadbeat wannabe writer who works in Starbucks. When we first meet him at the start of the book he is being chased down the street by a Rottweiler. We quickly discover that the dog has an engagement ring in its mouth, the same engagement ring that eight days earlier Josh had been hoping to put on his girlfriend, Allison's finger. The action skips back to the evening when Josh and Allison, are at the top of the Ferris wheel overlooking the Boston skyline. The stage is set for a romantic proposal. Unfortunately Allison doesn't say yes. Instead she says "the worst words that can be said after a proposal" i.e. "Can we talk about it?" What follows is an often amusing, often insightful and sometimes philosophical account of what Josh does next as he nurses his bruised ego and attempts to figure out the answers to the many questions in his life. His adventures include being spectacularly fired from his job at Starbucks following a clash with someone known as "The extra hot, double, half-caf, non-fat, no-whip mocha with soy milk lady", meeting a girl, Nicole, in a bar, drinking butterscotch schnapps with her and dancing to a series of 1980s classics - "Somewhere between A-Ha and Fleetwood Mac something happened", applying for a job in an adult-themed cake shop, learning life lessons from a group of ducks and waging war on a devil dog. It's a fast-paced story and the irony is that the engagement ring does change Josh's life for ever, but not in the way he expected.

      How to Disappear Completely is a light, mainly enjoyable read. I wouldn't say it captivated me, but it held my interest sufficiently for me to keep turning the pages. It's written in the first person by Josh and it reads like a friend honestly recounting their experiences and feelings to you. (I did wonder if the author was inspired by Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye.) If you like to read about relationships and the angst, misunderstandings, despair and elation they can bring, this is astutely observed. I think it would be appreciated particularly by people in the 20 something age range, rather than oldies like me, although a lot of Josh's observations on love and life make sense whatever age you are. It's interesting to read things from a man's point of view. The novel captures perfectly the mixed feelings that come when one relationship ends and a new one begins, the combination of guilt, liberation and the 'baggage' we carry with us. The contrasts between a stale old relationship and a blossoming new relationship are described in a way that I could relate to. At one point Josh describes infatuation as being "one of the few feelings that instantly makes everything else in the world seem trivial" and compares this to love, which can be "just there in the background like a jazz guitar player riffing standards in the back of your mind." He is spot on when he speaks of intensity and mystery of a new relationship, how you try to keep that 'new car smell' for as long as possible, all the unknown things that are there at the start that you will end up knowing so well. There is a lovely scene when Josh and Nicole kiss for the first time on the bridge and he wonders if the kisses will get less special with time and ponders the question, "Why should we ever continue anything if the first parts are the best?" We see him battling with doubts about whether he is throwing away something solid for the thrill of a new start. Will his new relationship end up just like his old one, with the situation becoming so comfortable that it no longer moves forward? Can you be happy with one person forever? How much choice do we have when our choices are so entangled with the choices of others? It may sound a bit pessimistic, but the colourful mishaps on Josh's life journey keep the tone upbeat, whilst inviting the reader to reflect. It's not the kind of book that is going to present you with startling new insights into relationship issues. It's more the sort of novel to make you nod and smile quietly to yourself in acknowledgment of Josh's feelings.

      What I felt was particularly credible was Josh's jealousy at the thought of his ex-girlfriend moving on and how difficult that can be to deal with, even if you're moving on yourself. It's a classic situation where the rational side of your brain tells you one thing but the emotional side tells you something different. Josh knows it shouldn't bother him, but he can't help it. "I hated being angry and every time I got this angry it made me more angry at the fact I was so angry." I'm sure many of us have been there.

      I have never been to Boston, where the book is set, but David Bowick's descriptions painted the scene for me very well and captured the atmosphere by day and by night. I liked the way Josh seems to have a habit of imagining the scenes he finds himself in are movies, describing what the camera would be focussing on, what the soundtrack would be etc. This fitted well with his (slightly annoying) tendency to be a bit of a poseur. I thought the book was very visual and I could imagine it making a good film.

      There was one thing about this book that I found really distasteful, however, and which spoiled it for me. There is an incident of blatant animal cruelty involving the Rottweiler. I know that it's presented as a bit of a brute, but I don't want to read about someone kicking a dog in the face and causing it to whine and whimper in pain, whatever the circumstances. I took an instant dislike to Josh for his smugness, declaring the kick, "a spectacular performance...I wish that someone had caught it on video." Because this happened right at the start, it was difficult for me to forget about it during the rest of the book and it coloured my opinion of the main character. I could never warm to Josh after this, which was disappointing as it's hard to enjoy a book like this when you dislike the hero. I'm sure the author wanted us to be rooting for him. If you're amused by the idea of an incontinent, one eyed-dog feeling the toe of someone's boot, you'll be okay with this, but this is one feature of the book that I'd like to see 'disappear completely.'

      The only other criticism I have of the novel is that it was a bit predictable at times. There is an incident in the adult cake shop that could have been much funnier if I hadn't guessed so quickly what was going to happen. It was still amusing, but I think it could have been a real side-splitting moment if handled differently.

      One thing that really annoyed me about this Kindle book was that there were a few glaring format errors. Whenever the author tried to write French words like déjà vu and other words with accents on, a flurry of gobbledegook came out instead. It didn't take me long to guess what the word should be, but it looks very messy on the screen and that irritated me a little.

      I can just about recommend this book because of the way it deals with relationship issues so well, but animal lovers should be warned.

      How to Disappear Completely is available from the Amazon Kindle store for £3.16.

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      • More +
        10.03.2011 12:18
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        Laugh out loud, very funny book

        When I first got my kindle, I was scouring every eBooks site I could find. I came across a site called Feed books where all eBooks were free. So as I was searching through the lists of books, I came across this one "How to disappear completely" by David Bowick. It's not the sort of book I usually go for, but it was in the most popular downloaded, and I thought just for a change I'd try it. It was free after all, it was worth a shot.

        I don't really know that much about the author, only that his name is David Bowick, he grew up in Atlanta and is now pursing a music carrier in Los Angeles, it seems that this is the only book he has written, which is only available in eBook format.


        --How To Disappear Completely--

        Having been turned down by his proposal of marriage to his girlfriend Allison, whilst sitting at the top of a "Big wheel" or "Ferris wheel" as the Americans like to call them. 30 something Josh's life takes an unexpected turn. Many surprises good and bad await him, happening very quickly one after another. His journey takes him, from getting into a "bloody battle" with a dog who has a serious dislike for him, to taking advice from a family of ducks, losing his job, finding himself in hospital, applying for a job in an adult themed cake shop....
        The list of things that Josh encounters are endless, and he soon realizes people are not always who they seem to be.
        From the top of the Big wheel where he's sat, feeling on top of the world one minute with his girlfriend, then suddenly realizing, like a slap in face the only way now, in his life as well as the big wheel is down.

        Published by Wood and Lead February 2009
        File size: 162 KB
        Downloaded free from Feed books in either EPUB, PDF or Kindle format or can be purchased for kindle from Amazon for £3.60


        --My opinion--

        I know my description of the book is only brief, but I didn't want to give too much away, because if you decide to download this book, it would ruin it for you, and there's not a lot more I can say without revealing to much of the story, as each little bit of the book has major significance to what is coming next.
        The book is extremely funny and in some places laugh out loud funny. I couldn't help but like the character of Josh, as I went on his rollercoaster journey with him, while he encountered many different situations, good and bad, the book is very fast paced so I didn't get the chance to get board with any of it, there was always something else happening which made me want to read more and more. The book is split into 14 exciting un-put-down-able chapters. There is quite a bit of strong language throughout the book, but I think it needs this, to make the story more realistic and believable. All the loose ends tie up nicely in the end.
        I thought this was an excellently thought out story, A definite must read for any one who enjoys a humorous book, even if you don't have an ereader it's worth downloading the PDF file to your computer, as you won't be disappointed with this book.
        Since finishing this book I have been on the look out for something similar, I really didn't think it would be my thing at all, but I was pleasantly surprised and shall be seeking out more of the same.

        I give this book 5 stars because it was so funny and best of all it was free.

        Thank you for reading my review which may also appear on Ciao

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