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.
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.
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