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This is a review of the 1992 book 'Rotten Times' by Paul Micou. I'd never read anything by this author before but the front cover ~ a mixture of union jack flag and American flag under water drew me in.
A little about the storyline
The book follows Lloyd and his curious condition of Tourraine's Syndrome (which I incorrectly read as Tourette's syndrome when I first skimmed the back page!). After suffering an electric shock on an aeroplane, Lloyd's memory becomes ultra sensitive, remembering everything he ever learnt or experienced in minute detail. Sounds a bit odd doesn't it? It actually turns Lloyd into a total bore as he recites poetry and literature in every conversation. People are puzzled by his condition but not surprised as he's a bit stiff and impersonal by nature anyway. What the syndrome makes Lloyd realise is that he is in love with childhood friend Nina and he is determined to do anything to win her over.
The book only has a few characters aside from Lloyd and Nina are Lloyd's sister 'Little Vic' who amusingly goes off the rails and tries unsuccessfully to have an adventure; business pal and slippery character Owen and the irritating American boss of Nina and Vic called Chad. Through the book all the characters interact with each other and provide enough links to connect the story overall.
Lloyd comes across as jealous and pathetic a lot of the time and is ultra protective of his sister although becomes relieved when the object of his affections, Nina seems interested in him too. He questions the loyalty of Chad and intentions of Owen almost to the detriment of getting it on with Nina and you wonder if it will ever happen between those two!
Is it real?
I googled Torraine's syndrome to see if it was real and it is not. There is a syndrome called Touraine's syndrome which is to do with freckles.
What I liked about this book
I found this an interesting enough read with some good aside lines to the other characters which created a little intrigue, particularly with Little Vic who goes in search of adventure.
I didn't like...
The US quango; the CYSR (Committee on the Year of the Special Relationship) that Vic, Nina and Chad work for sounded totally lame and I just couldn't interest myself in the theatre production and parade they were organising. It didn't make for entertaining reading and I found myself wishing those pages over as I read this book.
This book is worth a read if you come across it. Lloyd is a strangely compelling character who almost apologises for his own boring nature at times and you really want things to come good for him. The book feels like it was quite old as it makes a big thing of using a 'portable phone' but I suppose it was published in 1993 which was before most people 'got mobile' but it just seems strange to think of those times now.
This book can be purchased second hand for as little as 1p off Amazon. It's a fairly decent novel that I enjoyed reading but I didn't race through it so that tells me it was just OK.