I don’t make books reviews often but when I pick up something I like, I can’t help but type away.
The song No Surprises makes its presence felt throughout the new novel by Garry Crystal, called Leaving London. But there are many songs that will suit this unique story. It is labeled as anti-romance. I guess for me it is more of a ‘reality bites’ kind of story only you don’t see Winona Ryder or Ethan Hawk hugging or kissing at the end of the book. That is Hollywood bullshit. This is real life.
I brought out my collections of digital as well as physical records reading through the chapters. I can’t help but be reminded of the things that happened to me. In the story, the main character by the name of Cal experiences a sort of awakening. He just broke up with a girl and is now attracted to his friend Sofia but something gets in the way. He navigates through the crazy and busy London and in the end, fed up with everything, he winds up in New York. Yes this book is about relationships. Those relationships are ephemeral. That we are either doomed to repeat our mistakes or protect ourselves with walls, not out of fear but as a sort of silent dignity. There are also many characters that animate this beautiful story. And maybe some of them make a brief appearance but they make a lasting impression.
The story is also a story about meeting of minds and insights into why people find other people attractive:
( Page 188)People who have been badly hurt in the past, a hurt that has left a long – term damage, can usually recognize those who have been in similar situations or who have been through some form of pain simply by looking at the eyes. It’s al there, a sadness that shows through.
There are many passages that I find beautiful and I find myself getting back to them just to read the prose and how they resonate with important points in my life. Garry Crystal creates an atmosphere in his situations. This is what I love about Leaving London (Page 280) My birth month, October, is my favorite month of the year or at least it would be if I was forced to choose one. It’s probably the freshness in the air I like, not too hot and not exactly freezing yet, just comfortable.
It is worth noting that this book is filled with references to great bands. (Page 293) In the weeks before my ex headed out the door she played a few songs repeatedly with lyrics I should have picked on. All I Wanna’ Do Is Have Some Fun by Sheryl Crowe and Need a Little Time by The Beautiful South were being played daily but I still didn’t picked up on the glaring obvious.
There are more passages that I love revisiting. I know I didn’t really review the book based on the story (the plot etc) but more on why it is an enjoying read based on style. Maybe like music, I am not the type who pays much attention to the lyrics but rather the texture and the arrangement. To me Leaving London is a lengthy love letter to the anti romantics. It’s like a message in a bottle. And this message has reached an audience. I am hoping it reaches more readers out there. This could be a confessional but only Garry Crystal writes it with grace and intensity.
Many thanks for this review Baxter. Great to see the book through someone else eyes and great writing throughout your review. Thank you.
You are welcome Garry. You can tell I enjoyed it a lot 🙂