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Surviving Sting by Paul McDonald - Book Review


Surviving Sting
Paul McDonald
Tindal Street Press

Fiction-Net Rating 5 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

'Ace Face' wannabe Dave 'Mac' McVane thinks he's got it made. Luscious Joolz, the most shaggable girl in Walsall, invites him to her home on the notorious Jerome K. Jerome estate but will the woman of his dreams and a 'real' saddlemaker's job in the Happy Stallion make Mac the man he wants to be?

Take a cast list that includes demented Billy-Bob and his twizzler parents, the sociopathic Tezza, a boy named Sue and Brainy Kev, red wine drinker and swot. Add a pet scorpion and an over-dressed Yorkshire terrier to this Black Country brew, vintage 1979 and a pacy comic nightmare takes over.

A crazy week of sex, violence and betrayal gives a hilarious twist of realism to this intelligent evocation of growing up in 'the ugliest town in the country'.

Oh, and someone gets a duffel-coat toggle rammed up his nose.

We Say

The 'Sting' in the title is an errant pet scorpion (named in honour of the former lead singer of the Police). But the book isn't just about surviving an encounter with this creature. It's about surviving some of the unfortunate burdens life can put on a bloke - like having barmy parents or an intellect that you're reluctant to reveal in case you have to join Brainy Kev's gang and start wearing a duffel coat. It's also about surviving some seriously dangerous situations, especially when your girlfriend's ex makes Mike Tyson look like Little Miss Muffet.

The author of this novel, Paul McDonald, has written one of the best kind of books - one where it's possible to laugh and think at the same time and when events turn ugly, be prepared to be shocked. In fact, prepare for that as soon as you begin reading this book because chapter headings tell it like it is and you'll be faced with 'Attacked by a Scratch Monster', 'Shot in Cold Blood' and 'Positively Maniacal' to quote a few of the tamer ones. The plot moves quickly, taking the week day by day as things get worse for Mac. Surviving Sting takes you on a rapid journey without any pauses and the events pile up effectively into a gruesome collision at the end.

Songs of the era are played out in the background, the fashions are paraded and the as yet unrealised impact of a new Prime Minister called Margaret Thatcher looms as the biggest threat of them all. Paul McDonald successfully evokes the last days of the seventies with both fondness and disparagement.

Surviving Sting is funny, violent and completely endearing. It's an unexpected mix but one that works incredibly well.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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