Life! Death! Prizes!

Stephen May. Bloomsbury, $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62040-001-2
In this British variation on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 18-year-old Billy Smith is forced to care for his six-year-old half-brother, Oscar, after their single mother is killed during a botched mugging. It’s his university gap year, and while working part-time, Billy must meet Oscar’s needs and still find time to drink, smoke weed, and play computer games. He must also fight to retain custody of Oscar, despite the objections of his well-meaning aunt, bureaucratic drones, and Oscar’s absent father, who is suddenly back on the scene. Complicating matters is Billy’s association with Lucy Avis, a teacher who is in an unhappy relationship with her artist boyfriend and who sends mixed sexual signals to a confused Billy. It’s a situation right out of Life! Death! Prizes!, the tabloid magazine with which Billy is obsessed. Fortunately, he has a sense of humor, and Billy’s arch—and sometimes oversophisticated—observations are probably the most enjoyable aspect of this book. Readers, like Billy, will come away from May’s second novel (after Tag) with a new appreciation of what it means to grow up. Agent: David Smith, Annette Green Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 12/11/2012
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4088-1914-2
Paperback - 245 pages - 978-1-4088-1913-5
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-62040-084-5
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