The Last Busker in London and Other London Tales by Garry Crystal

Garry Crystal

Garry Crystal

Every author has a certain style in writing that makes him or her identifiable from the rest. Just like in music. You know exactly what band is playing because of a certain sound they have. The Last Busker in London and Other London Tales is a beautiful introduction to the writing style of Scottish author Garry Crystal. Reading Crystal’s prose is like flipping through the journal of someone even though you were told not to spy. He makes each of his stories so personal and believable it feels like you are reading the work of someone you know. And sometimes, you feel as if you are reading about the scenes in your life you dare not wish to tell someone.

This collection  starts with the story of the same title. Here, Cal(written in the first person as most of his stories are) takes a drinking spree on a Christmas eve only to end up in a terrible fate involving three crooks. It is both a cautionary tale and as an excursion into the fact why we sometimes do things that in the end will destroy us. Here, Cal muses about illusion of happiness we sometimes cloak our lives, while deep inside we are really sad: ” The disease only becomes terminal when you don’t realize you are alone and you become used to the silence and look forward to it when you get home at night.”

Crystal  has his stories always surrounded by interesting characters. In Sunrise in the City, Cal meets a friend who gets him into trouble, dumps the car and then runs away leaving him to fend for himself. Crystal’s tone is unapologetic, even brutal but always reflective. He describes every emotional scar we all experience as a sort of cautionary tale. Sometimes as a release.

The Last Busker in London and Other London Tales is something I can read again and again, just to remind me how dull life is without the zany characters around us. And also to remember that in the heart of our quiet desperation lies a seed. And that seed is an art in which Garry Crystal has polished and made beautiful.

My big thanks to Dean Walker for recommending and giving me this beautiful gem of a book. It’s also my Christmas gift!

The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve is one of the songs that appeared in the book.

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4 thoughts on “The Last Busker in London and Other London Tales by Garry Crystal

  1. Baxter, I so enjoyed the experience. I started the song playing, looked deeply into Mr. Crystal’s blue eyes and inhaled your review. Seriously, though, it is on my wish list. I’ve been a fan of Garry’s since the first time I read something he wrote. I’d never heard the song before, but I really like it and it added to the reading. Very atmospheric and very well written.


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