Post still exists and print still exists and hence people send us books for review by Tasmanian Times. When I say people to be honest it’s usually the publishers, and the big ones at that, who can afford to dole out review copies. But there are indeed self-published authors whose material lands on our desk. […]
Post still exists and print still exists and hence people send us books for review by Tasmanian Times. When I say people to be honest it’s usually the publishers, and the big ones at that, who can afford to dole out review copies. But there are indeed self-published authors whose material lands on our desk.
In looking at such works, I’m reminded of some advice I sent out to our reviewers for shows at the 2020 Fringe Festival:
A note on reviews. I think you should err on the side of positivity in most cases. These are performers who pay their own way and spend hours of their own time planning and preparing these shows. Without culture to hold up a mirror to our society where would be? Regardless of whether you like a show or not, someone’s long labour of love deserves quite a bit of respect. These are not cynical Marvel franchise movies made to crank out dollars for investors. These are oily-rag shows upon which rest the hopes and dreams of (often quite) young artists. They are still developing their craft. Be honest in your reviews but don’t feel that the power of the pen should be used to strike them down mercilessly. Be fair. If you have a devastating critique, say it them out of the public eye; good performers appreciate genuine feedback. They also thrive on praise so if you genuinely love a show by all means lay it on with a trowel.
In general, I believe this should go for self-published authors too. The end product that we can read in a few hours is the result of undoubtedly hundreds of hours of hard effort, plus financial other sacrifices. And I’m quite aware that even if I don’t like a book, I may not be the ‘target audience’ and so I need to review with that in mind.
So with positive bent, and eager to give a new writer a chance, I hoed into I Owe You One. To set the scene, I might as well quote from the publicity blurb; it does at least a decent job of describing (warning?) of the tone of the novel, and its basic premise.
Look no further than this laugh-out-loud book for Father’s Day! Terry Flynn: I Owe You One is the first book in the series by Australian author Matt Judd, who has created a character that both men and women will love and, it’s the perfect purchase for Father’s Day this September 6!
Matt has people all over Australia laughing at Terry Flynn and all the trouble he gets into. As Marto from Triple M in Brisbane says, “Terry is the loser version of Les Norton”… but don’t be fooled guys and gals, Terry might get himself into trouble but he has a heart of gold and loves his Mum!
Seeking retribution from anyone he believes has wronged him is common practice, but when a degenerate gambler looks set to turn his world upside down, Terry is prompted to produce his greatest square up to date.
With an extremely short fuse and an inability to conform with modern society, it’s not going to be a walk in the park though. In fact, his best mate reckons it’s the most ludicrous scheme Terry has ever devised and only gives him a 50 to 1 chance of pulling it off!
Terry’s not concerned in the slightest, he’s just got a cranky builder, a dangerous driver, English cricket fans and an 80s television star amongst others to deal with first.
Plot twist: I’m about to go back and withdraw all that doe-eyed argot about kid gloves with content creators, in particular their developmental works.
This is a book that should never have been written. Effortlessly covering a range of styles from puerile to tedious to plain baffling, I really wish Matt Judd well in trying his hand at some other kinds of writing. Perhaps haiku on beer mats? Angsty public toilet graffiti caricatures of genitals? Parler, in the nooks not already occupied by Trumpian conspiracy dawgs toting guns and eagles? The opportunities are endless.
Within the first few pages Terry Flynn, our hero, exposes himself supposedly accidentally to girls walking past his house. He is not aware of it, supposedly, until his mother points it out when he comes inside with the paper.
Terry slowly scanned down to discover that his oversize dick was hanging from his shorts like a fat lazy lizard.
This is presumably one of the ‘laughs’ the book is angling for. Apparently we’re also supposed to find it funny that Terry is a half-arsed vigilante who goes to harass drivers who cut him off, or quite the petty criminal mastermind, or a vindictive dickhead at the pub when there’s someone there he doesn’t like.
“This one’s on me … or should I say on you, you lovely cunt! KEEEERRR SPLAAAAASHHH!” he bellowed as he ripped the mask and snorkel off Willis’ head and poured an entire jug of Bundaberg Rum and Coke over him.
Is Judd simply doing some paid product placement here, or is this the kind of whip-smart detail that is supposed to keep us reading right through to the drearily predictable end? Although Terry Flynn, our hero, enlisting a prostitute to do his dirty work and drug a man as a key part of the swindle was something I hadn’t predicted.
As for style, for some reason Judd has to tell us what time Terry Flynn goes to bed each night, and also repeatedly tell us that he is wearing his ‘uniform’ of 80s rugger shorts, thongs, and a blue-and-red-striped polo of which he apparently has a whole wardrobe full. Are we having fun yet?
I did not laugh at all, let alone out loud. The one saving grace of the novel is that it regularly put me to sleep as I was recovering from a broken leg – hence the lateness of the review – and I do mean one saving grace.
For there are ‘gems’ like this, when Terry Flynn wakes up with an erection and, not having a convenient woman around, takes matters into his own hand.
No point in wasting it I s’pose, he thought to himself as he began to belt the living hell out of his slug. Lucky I didn’t knock a tile off the wall with that load. I’ve got to get laid, he thought as he watched his baby batter fight its way down the shower waste. “Goodbye little fellas,” he said quietly as he started to wash himself. He had a bit of a chuckle before then commencing to sing Cold Chisel’s “Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)” at a reasonable volume.
This book is a trashy comic writ large in latter-day Australian Bogan. I sometimes wonder why boganism gets such an easy ride within our broader cultural scene, but that’s a topic for another day. That Judd thinks he has someone loveable in Terry Flynn is, as Jack Kerouac might have said, just sad, man. Sad. We know who the real wanker is.
All the bogan tropes are there: acting the goat, cars, going to the races, getting on the piss, casual work, hating ‘Poms’, swearing, etc. It’s not as if this these things don’t exist in Brisbane, because they do, but more that the endless wallpaper of them to the exclusion of all else in the book becomes a dull landscape into which the main character seamlessly blends, the remarkable chameleon that is nothing but the dead sum of his surroundings.
Flynn’s redeeming qualities are that he loves his mum and loves his daughter and therefore being a prick 23/7 gets a free pass on a glimmer of decentness with immediate family. Call me a raging social architect but I’m hoping for more from a lead character that is going to be the flagship of a series. There are plenty of actual inspiring archetypes from all walks of life. The Flynn creation of Judd is not really a likeable larrikin, as well-meaning as that might be, or even a rough diamond, he’s just a loud and angry fucknut. It’s 2021. Boys-will-be-boys doesn’t cut it.
Please don’t buy this book for Father’s Day, or any other darn day falling between 1 January and 31 December. I’m still wondering what to do with the copy I have, given that Glenorchy Council doesn’t offer hazardous waste collection. I’m tending in favour of giving it to Grace Tame to incinerate with a withering glare. May it happen.
Alan Whykes is Chief Editor of Tasmanian Times.
Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/05/review-i-owe-you-one/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=review-i-owe-you-one