Imagine for one minute that you're a judge on Britain's Got Talent. A comedian strolls on stage and takes the roof off the joint, reducing the entire auditorium, including yourself, to fits of laughter. What do you do? Do you judge him by the common idiom, 'he did what it says on the tin' and put him through because he made you laugh, or, do you get a bit high brow and start questioning the quality and content of his material?
The same logic should be applied before buying or reading this book. I find it very difficult to believe that this could fail to make anyone laugh but there have been some very critical reviews on its heavy load of colloquialisms and innuendo. Personally, I found this made the reading experience very funny but I suppose it can be a bit crude and childish at times. However, if you're not easily offended then you've nothing to worry about and if you've read John Niven's first novel, Kill Your Friends, then you would be expecting this.
The story is of Gary Irvine, a young Scotsman who lives and works in the fictional town of Ardgirvan in Ayrshire. Gary is a man of simple tastes but there are a few things about his life that are getting him down. His gorgeous, gold-digging wife Pauline has no interest in him, refusing to sleep with him, even on his birthday, she refuses to have children with him, his dog hates him, his brother is an off-the-rails drug dealer, his mother is over protective and his golf swing and handicap are shocking.
Gary is a loyal husband however and patiently awaits the day his wife succumbs to his charms, this is unlikely to ever happen though, as unkown to Gary, Pauline has embarked on an affair with the Carpet King of the West Coast, self-made millionaire Findlay Masterson.
Gary inherited his interest in golf from his father who was a far better golfer than he will ever be. He loves the game with a passion though but views it sometimes as an obsessive curse which was put on this earth by God as some kind of masochistic torture against the untalented amateur. He spends every waking moment either playing or thinking about golf and this suits Pauline just fine as it allows her to see to Findlay.
Meantime, Lee (Gary's brother) manages to get himself into some serious trouble with the local gangster, Ranta Campbell. Pauline goes house hunting in the hope Findlay will leave his wife and set up home with her and Gary gets more and more frustrated at his hacker's swing until he ends up in hospital in a coma after being struck on the head with a flying golf ball.
This changes everything. When Gary emerges from the coma he finds his neurological patterns have changed and he now has the perfect golf swing. However, this comes at a price - he's also developed Tourette's Syndrome and an overwhelming urge to spontaneously masturbate in public. The story is then complicated further when Gary breaks the local course record and finds himself qualifying for, and competing in The Open against his hero, Calvin Linklater. The 'Local Boy Done Good' story attracts huge press attention and Gary attracts the attention of local press reporter, April as he effs and blinds his way around the links with his best mate Stevie in tow as caddie.
This is a brilliant book, it's absolutely hilarious and the perfect companion for a week lying in the sun by the pool. As previously mentioned, there are many reviews of this book and one thing is for sure, it polarises opinions. The simplest way to determine whether you should part with your hard-earned cash is to ask yourself a couple of simple questions - Do you like a good laugh? Yes, then buy it. Are you a bit hoity-toity when it comes to choosing a book and have a look about you as if you have a permanent Vicks Vapor Rub moustache? Yes, then you may want to revisit Ulysses or Swann's Way.