Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes by Simon Wan
Publisher – Urbane Publications
You know the hero always gets the girl right? Well, what if the hero gets the girl but she’s not the right girl? Worse, what if the girl doesn’t actually want the hero?
Such is the life of our romantic hero as he negotiates the triple threat of trying to becoming a cheese ball superstar, finding his cartoon princess, and bringing her home for a perfect Christmas roast potato. It’s a life tale of comic disasters, sex (lots of weird sex), relationship nightmares and discovering your nakedness in a world full of people wearing the same old clothes.
Honest, warm, funny and very hip, this is David Nicholls with the tears, the pain and the naughty bits put brazenly on display for the world to see.
If you like the idea of reading something a little different then this is just the book. Honest and warm with lots of laugh out loud moments plus a couple of weird ones to boot (check out the acknowledgements to give you a bit of an idea), this is the story of one man’s quest to find true love.
As Shakespeare himself famously wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth” and never has there been a more appropriate turn of phrase when it comes to the complicated love life of Mr Simon Wan. Beginning at the tender age of eight, the author takes us right back to the 1980’s and the first girl he fell in love with, Claire. Having only been at his new school for a couple of days, Claire and her friend feel sorry for the half-Chinese boy being teased by the other boys. In a bid to make him feel better, the girls kiss him on the cheek. “The next playtime, the boys who called me ‘chinkychong pong face’ were a little more interested in being my friend…and that probably set the precedent [for my life] for the next thirty two years.”
With an obvious zest for life and an honest love and appreciation of women (all kinds of women), as well as music and fashion, not forgetting the roast potatoes of course, the writer then proceeds to walk us through three colourful decades of his life and the never ending story (and yes, that sentence is alluding to a friend of said author who gets a mention in this book – think eighties pop icon with spiky blonde hair) of his search for true love. And it’s all there, the long hot summers, public transport, the video player, mix tapes, skateboards, drink fuelled fights and drug fuelled raves – “we drove around the country lanes in the middle of the night searching for phone boxes that would lead us to hidden rave arenas and when we got there we danced until it was a different day. Life was fast. Life was about lasers and ecstasy, nothing could stop us. We had the keys to a brave new world. We were invincible.”
Snappy, fast paced but easy to read, Wan is masterful at painting pictures with words. He is also brutally honest about himself and although, on the whole, the book remains upbeat and wonderfully witty throughout, Wan doesn’t sugar coat his faults or his mistakes, which in a way only makes him more endearing. He is human and doesn’t try and hide it. Written with great humour and sincerity, if you’re looking for something a little different then I’d definitely recommend Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes. But be warned – be prepared to feel very worn out after reading it.