Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Review; Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison

I was taken by surprise by Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison. I’d also like to be taken by surprise by Pierce Brosnan but no such luck. (Stop thinking what you’re thinking Gary – I meant taken out to dinner.)

Whoops veered off there… back to Gary’s book…Anyway why was I taken by surprise I hear you ask?

Well…. Firstly, I’d read Paul Burman’s interview with Gary at The View From Here and found Gary quite an interesting character so I started reading his blog. Gary comes from the North of England (I know it’s terrible but someone’s got to) and runs his own construction business and from what I’ve read Gary both works and plays hard. He’s a bit of a tough cookie but with a soft centre. He also gets blind drunk, gambles and spends nights in shopping trolleys trying to work out the plot for his next novel whilst consuming large bars of Galaxies. Again, shameful, but someone’s got to do it just so England can keep up the reputation of producing geniuses pushing themselves to the limit to produce masterpieces of English literature. Personally, I think any man that can squeeze himself into a shopping trolley this small IS a genius; I certainly couldn’t - even after amputating my legs.

So anyway, after reading Gary’s interview instantly my fantastical imagination took off and I was thinking Fat Tuesday was about some huge fat northern gangster (not that Gary is fat but I hear fish and chips are good up there) dressed in a pinstripe suit sorting out the mob in Newcastle. Then I changed my mind and thought that Fat Tuesday was actually a big Momma with an oversized pinny, a penchant for baking and a heaving bosom….And then I discovered “Fat Tuesday” means “Mardis Gras” in French. Well I don’t speak French; how was I to know? Stop laughing at my ignorance! So I thought it must be a thriller with a secret agent running through a carnival being chased by knife wielding hoodlums….

Okay, the book took me by surprise because it’s not about any of those scenarios. It’s actually about young adults finding their way through life in what can be at the same time a hugely exciting adventure but also a dangerously stupid one. Young adults can be very vulnerable and easily influenced and Fat Tuesday grabs you full on and shows you how disastrous it can be when you take the wrong path…

Spencer Hargreaves is a wealthy young man. His mother died when he was a child and he has been raised by a series of nannies and an overbearing father whom he despises. He is isolated at school and disliked for his social standing. On his father’s death Spencer takes flight on a journey of discovery and finds himself stealing packaged meals in a supermarket in Australia and planning to clean out the safe with his new found buddies. The robbery complete, Spencer find himself in the middle of Mardis Gras where the decadence of sex, drugs and rock “n” roll assault his senses and propel him into an unstoppable chain of events that leads to his imprisonment….

Spencer is an intriguing character. As many young people are he is not at ease with himself or the class into which he has been born and he strives to rid himself of the ghosts of his past by going against the grain of everything he has been taught; stealing, fighting and cheating his way through life. He searches for acceptance, to be one of the gang and in doing so throws away his morals, falls in with in the wrong crowd and his life that could be rich with opportunities starts to spiral out of control. Early on in the book there are hints of mental instability and as the story progresses Spencer’s thoughts and actions become increasingly erratic. A murder is committed and the reader is left guessing whether Spencer did it or not.

But the crux of the book is Spencer’s experience of the pulsating vibrancy of the Sydney Mardis Gras. It’s a critical moment; will the loss of his inhibitions, his experiences of sex and drugs pull him back to reality? Will his crazed walkabout make a man of him or send his mind spiralling into madness?
Photo; Getty images

Fat Tuesday is an exciting book with the events moving speedily onwards. It was a thoroughly entertaining read but at the same time I felt it was an accurate portrayal of how some young adults search for their identities amidst excitement and new opportunities. For the majority, this journey of self discovery leads to maturity and personal development but perhaps for a few vulnerable adults, especially those beset with problems, it can lead to chaos and mental illness.

So how does Spencer’s rite of passage affect him?

You’ll have to read Fat Tuesday to find the answer.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008


  1. Nice review, Jane. You pipped to the post on this, but that's what comes of dawdling (obviously nowhere near the post). Glad to see you got Pierce Brosnan in there too.

  2. Did you write this whole review so you could get that last image in?

  3. I guess you've been working on your Vulcan mind meld again. It's funny but I'm 1/3 through Fat Tuesday! But it's a different one by Sandra Brown. Perhaps you'll read it too and compare the differences. Funny post. I'm pretty sure I'd have a hard time getting my legs into that shopping cart. He must be a genius... or Gumby.

  4. Glad you liked it PB - yours is coming soon! I've had to reread as it's a few months back now and i wanted to refresh my memory...

    Mike - Yes.

    Infact, I had to study LOTS of pictures of scantily dressed young men before I could make a decision... it's a hard life being a blogger at times....

    Mr I,

    Ooo... I've read the review on Amazon; it sounds exciting too! A thriller - just up my street! We will definately compare notes...

    So you're not a dwarf then? Well that is good news.Although you won't get any roles in panto...

    So you should be good at Twister then?? (Chuckles)

  5. Another Fat Tuesday! Scandalous! Stick with the new version readers, my mardi gras is the best on the planet!

    Just checking in Mrs T, to see how I'm fairing,and all looks good,and I've backed an 8-1 winner today. Things are on the up.

  6. LOL @ Mike French!!

    Was the murder committed by Spencer? Did he go crazy??

    I take it a shopping trolley is a shopping cart, or "buggy" as my Southern brother would say. I like to ride in them while roped to the bumber of a fast moving vehicle.

    Of course, I wear a helmet!!!

  7. Gary.. 50p on 8-1 winner won't bring you much! Really, dig a bit deeper into your pockets will you?! Got a bet on X factor tonight then?

    Two completely different Fat Tuesdays from what I can see from the other synopsis and the other is written by a woman! Are you sure it's not you Gary dressing up after another night on the town?!


    A "buggy" over here is, for the less sophisticated (ie; not me) a "pram" or to use the correct term a "perambulator" which is vechicle for moving children around in a dangerous and annoying fashion. I had one myself which is now on loan to the British Army...

    What a spoil sport wearing a helmet and how terribly politically correct; I expected more of you Speedy! In the buff would be more appropiate I think...Speedy speeding along baring all to the world... amodern day Lady Godiva....

  8. LMAO !!!!!

    Point doooolie noted. Might make a great post, and create the politically incorrect persona I seek.

    The stunt will require chaps though, as crashing is a very plausible outcome. I know this from experience.

  9. Speedy,

    I take it you mean "chaps" for your legs like cowboys wear? For a moment I thought you'd been so inspired by that Mardis Gras picture you meant the other "chaps"... which is a coloquial term for "men" in the UK!

    Do you have a six shooter then and a cowboy hat?!

  10. Speedcat, he most certainly lost it a bit back there. Is he a murderer? That would be telling, but he's definately a bit dangerous!

  11. Jane ... I do have a cowboy hat and a six shooter. Colt 45!

    Gary, it is always loaded with blanks for my starring roles in Hollywood Westerns, so relax a bit, I reckon so.

    HAWWWW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BANG Bang Bang ..... B A N G !!


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