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Life! Death! Prizes! Kindle Edition
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I loved this book for its touching, truthful - sometimes shocking - and painfully funny portrayal of two brothers struggling to stay together after the death of their mother. It's a paean of praise for the other side of contemporary youth, the side that, with all its foibles and failures, is still driven by love and connection (Mavis Cheek)
I don't know how he does it, but Stephen May manages to balance hilarity and sadness in nearly every sentence of this deftly comic, completely engaging and at times absolutely hair-raising novel. Life! Death! Prizes! deserves every one of its exclamation marks (Suzanne Berne, author of the Orange Prize-winning A Crime in the Neighborhood)
Echoes of J.D. Salinger and Dave Eggars, this is a book about boys, brotherhood, teenage heroism and confusion. It is happy, sad and good. Stephen May is a major new talent, sharply observant of the human condition (Monique Roffey, author of White Woman on the Green Bicycle, shortlisted for Orange Prize)
I loved Life! Death! Prizes! I read it over a weekend, barely putting it down, and when I'd finished and had to leave Billy and Oscar to the rest of their lives, I felt bereft. Stephen May has the sharp eye of David Nicholls and the verve of Kate Atkinson (Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katharine Howard)
A heartbreaking tale, propulsively told. By turns bleak, funny, and tender, Life! Death! Prizes! is an intoxicating gulp of a novel (Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did)
Full of surprises, this acutely observed story of grief and love begins bleakly, ends up full of compassion and has great deal to say about modern families and the world we live in en route. It's a real achievement, and introduces Stephen May as a talent to be reckoned with (Melvin Burgess)
Gritty, witty, uplifting, sharp - it reminded me of Nick Hornby in its portrayal of modern family in all its glorious chaos (Kate Long)
Stephen May's writing is muscular, tender and touching (Willy Russell)
This is a wonderful, wry novel, looking at brotherly love and grief in a tender and humorous way (Psychologies) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Stephen May's first novel Tag published by a small Welsh press and won the Reader's Choice Award at the 2009 Welsh Book of the Year. Originally from Bedford, he now lives and works in west Yorkshire.
@RealStephenMay--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B007M832BM
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (1 April 2012)
- Language : English
- File size : 1095 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 257 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 777,663 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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It is at times raw and unforgiving but also funny, especially the interaction with the younger half brother. He is so kind and loving towards him it is quite lovely.
The Characters are very real and flawed but likeable all the same, especially his poor long suffering Aunt.
A good read if you are looking for something to get your teeth into.
Top reviews from other countries
Dealing with the death of a mother and the completely unswaying determination of a teenager to keep his brother with him with absolutely no understanding of how this could be done. Blindly moving from one day to the next the younger child is simply an extension of his brother, his books and boots are remembered for school but the idea that maybe the adult's life goes on hold while a child grows up is simply not there.
Alongside this plays the authority role, schools, social services and relatives all have to have input and the teenager has no idea how to react to the input and presents a determined figure blocking the way to his brother in simple blind panic mode.
Realistically how many of us would have any idea of different agency roles? Especially as teenagers? This one's background seems to be partly in the "don't trust authority" camp.
Holding down a job, ignoring debts and bills while still trying to carry on and make sure his brother's looked after. Even possibly a girlfriend? Maybe not.
I loved it. The emotion was so sublimely written but intensely there. This one I think can be most appreciated if you've ever been back against the wall.
I hope the next reader finds as much to value as I did and I hope the author writes again.
I'll readily admit that it's not always an easy journey. It can be raw, ragged and uncomfortable, but it has a tender and compassionate core that ultimately restores your faith in humanity.
In Billy Smith May has created an authentic and utterly believable character, emotionally flawed and occasionally almost psychotic. At the outset Billy is ill-equipped to deal with the care of Oscar, his younger brother, as they both try to come to terms with their Mother's murder. But Billy knows that Oscar is relying on him and that he needs to shape up, despite the fact that his own life isn't exactly working out.
May's observations have the precision of a surgeons scalpel and the cast of characters he has assembled are sharply defined and truthfully rendered.
Many reviewers seem to want to compare May to other writers (Nick Hornby, David Nicholls, Kate Atkinson, Dave Eggers and even J.D. Salinger....and that's just on the inside cover of the book!). Personally I think he stands on his own as a major talent without the need for lazy comparisons.
I had wondered whether May could write another book which was as strong and self-assured as his debut "TAG". But this wonderful novel demonstrates that Stephen May is developing into a literary force to be reckoned with.
The story concerns what happens when a self-absorbed teenage boy (Billy) drifting through a dull gap year job in a museum in a small Essex town, has to suddenly man up because his mum is killed in a robbery. He becomes the guardian of his six year old brother Oscar. The two boys plainly adore each other and this fierce love keeps them going even when times are getting very rough. What stops the story becoming mawkish is the power, energy and humour of Billy's voice (Billy is the narrator). Billy is very opinionated and part of the pleasure of this book is seeing how wrong he is about almost everything...
I almost missed out on this book - I only picked it up because ofr the cover and then my friend told me that the Times had said it was 'as uplifting as a new bra.' How could I resist after that? And now I'm quite evangelical and I really want to spread the word. Take a risk on a new writer and feel smug next year when everyone you know (everyone who likes books anyway) is going on and on about it...
Oh and it's even got a couple of decent sex scenes and they are really hard to do... Heart-warming, funny and sexy - what's not to like?