Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston
“Is there anything better to sink into than a good comic novel,” asked Dominic Maxwell in The Times. To get a handle on Diary of a Somebody, imagine “Adrian Mole if he had grown up accruing Smiths LPs as well as rejection letters from the BBC”. The novel is “by and about” Brian Bilston, the Twitter poet who has a cult following for his “self-aware parody poems” (and is actually the creation of the writer Paul Millicheap). In the novel, we follow Brian over a year as he “battles with business jargon” in his terrible day job, and falls for Liz, a newcomer at his local poetry club. Packed with “understated jokes” (and plenty of poems), it’s great fun.
As a poet, Bilston turns the “base metal of comic verse into gold”, said Anthony Quinn in The Guardian. He is certainly a “magician with words”. Yet as a storyteller, he’s rather less accomplished: too many elements here are “on the level of a sitcom”. Still, Diary of a Somebody contains enough “individual brilliancies” – droll puns, whimsical riffs, deft parodies – to be well worth dipping in to.