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Humorous novel - how do you rate your life in numbers?
Stretch 29 - Damian Lanigan
Member Name: julwhite
Stretch 29 - Damian Lanigan
Date: 28/01/10, updated on 29/01/10 (30 review reads)
Advantages: Good humorous read
Disadvantages: A bit dated (or a memory of the times depending how you look at it)
This review is for the paperback book Stretch 29 by Damian Lanigan. The book was published ten years ago, although I have just discovered it! The author has written two books, this one and The Chancers, and is also the writer of the BBC television programme Massive which stars Ralf Little (best known for his role as Antony in The Royle Family).
The basic plot of the book is that twenty nine year old Frank Stretch has a dull life, and has taken to rating everyone's life out of 100. He scores 29 himself, with his best friend Tom reaching 73 and his flat-mate scoring 59. Of all the people he knows, his score is the lowest of all, so he wants to change things.
The whole scoring process, in this case based on ten different criteria, sex life, health, employment, money, friends, status and so on, has been used quite a lot, especially in the chick-lit novels of the time of this book's publication. However, the observations are humorous enough, and still remain applicable and relevant today. The book does approach its content with quite a dry and black humour though, which might not be for everyone.
The structure of the book is to look at each of the different criteria in turn and measure Frank's life against others. He feels that everyone is doing so much better and wants to do much better for himself, as he is tired of not having enough money and not having a stable relationship. However, the plans he makes in life are rarely successful and he soon discovers that his friends continue to do much better than he is.
For me, this was an enjoyable book to read and I'd recommend it. It is a bit formulaic looking back on it, but is still humorous and there are lots of parts where you can identify with the situation that the lead character is in. Once I got into the book, I was able to complete it quite quickly, as the humour did mean that the book became a bit of a page turner!
I did wonder why the author had written this book and then only one more novel, but I found an on-line interview with him, which stated that he wrote the book and was then handed a two book deal by the publishers, so he felt obligated to write the second book. Instead of writing more however, he decided instead to move onto writing plays, as he wanted writing which was more serious and dealt with different subjects. So the lack of novels isn't necessarily a reflection of how successful, or not, the publisher thought they were!
The book is currently out of print, but is available second hand for just three pounds including postage on sites such as Amazon and eBay. The book was originally published by Harper Collins of London in 2000 and the ISBN is 0006514286.
In summary, the book does feel like it is from London in the late 1990s, which is when it was set, which looking at this book now does add something to the content. It's very readable, and slightly disappointing that this was the debut novel, and only one more has followed since. However, it's easy to pick up cheaply, and worth a look if you're looking for a humorous read with a dry outlook on life.
Summary: Well worth a read as available cheaply