Written by the author of ‘Withnail and I’; If your familiar with this book or film then you will already have an idea of what lies in store.
Robinson is also accredited with writing the screenplay to ‘Killing Fields’.
Here in his book he beautifully masters the art of dark humour and a sense of manic chaos with crafted story telling of difficult and raw events that occur throughout our lives; heightened by the turmoil of adolescence.
A heart-warming and darkly humorous mix of revolting revelations of a teenage boy’s secrets mixed in with the awkwardness and uncertainty of growing up in an unstable family.
The novel is essentially a rites-of-passage. It marks the developments of Thomas’ first love and first experience of death.
Told with frank and stark imagery, Thomas worms his way into many an unpleasant and ‘squirm-worthy’ situations of embarrassment, despite his often innocently curious intentions. It is these highlights to his tale that make The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman considerably funnier than the typical tale of growing up.
Robertson is an avid fan of Dickens and this shows in his grimy and frank storytelling of ambiguity and childhood misconceptions of adulthood, within a working class family in the 50’s.
The tales are often vulgar and cringe-worthy but handled tactfully with genuine responses of Thomas’ acute embarrassment.
Young Penman still fails to have full insight or understanding into his parent’s motives and strange actions. As a result the only adult in his family that he has any feelings of affiliation to is with his WW1 veteran and half senile grandfather.
Penman of course proceeds to fall in love, and it’s this infatuation with the much rumoured upon Gwen cures him of his fixations upon his own bodily functions, which grow into what is much more expected of a boy of his age.
He battles in of jealous rivalry against his best friend Maurice, as they confide in each other their feelings and desires and then proceed try to ‘get one up’ on the other, whilst of course, maintaining a front of indifference and boyish bravado .
A very surreal and enjoyable read. Victorious in its eloquence, honest and very real portrayal of emotion interjected with some great cringe-worthy and comic moments.