Auntie Doris’s Book Club #1: Dream Brother by Brian Marggraf



Brian decided to follow me on WordPress the other week. That was nice of him. I am always flattered by things like that. But increasingly a bit suspicious too. Paranoid maybe. Why are they following me? What is their motive? I am just a dead old lady. I have no money, I’m no oil painting. Maybe they want to sell me something? A set of encyclopaedias? A get rich quick business scheme? Jesus? Or maybe they have another agenda. Perhaps they just want me to read their writing. In Brian’s case it was a bit of both. He wanted me to buy his writing, and then read it.

Well. seeing as how his novel is available for 99 cents, or 99 pence on Amazon (until May 1st) I got my nephew Michael to buy me it. And then I read it. Here’s what I thought:
Firstly it’s an American novel. I don’t usually go for American stuff. There’s enough of that on the ruddy telly. Waving ruddy guns around and driving on the wrong side of the road. But there aren’t any guns in “Dream Brother” and Brian cleverly never mentions which side of the road his characters are driving on. So that’s ok. In fact, if you substituted Hull for San Fransico, and Liverpool for New York, and maybe, Hebden Bridge for Laramie, you could just about imagine it was set in England.
Jacob, the hero of the novel is a filthy so and so though. He has carnal relations with at least three women in the story, smokes methylated crystals, is disrespectful to his parents and probably breaks every single one of the Ten Commandments into the bargain ( if you can call making a statue out of stolen toys “worshipping a graven image” that is ) I didn’t like him one bit.
It was interesting reading about what happened to him though. When he finds out that he should have been a twin, but his brother Sean got strangled before he was born, it sends him a bit doollalley, and probably even nastier than he was in the first place. Then again, you would have to be pretty nasty to go reading your mother’s old diary, wouldn’t you. And people who go poking about where they have no business, shouldn’t be surprised if they find stuff out that they don’t like.
Later on, some ruddy filthy stuff about what happened to him when he was a little boy is revealed. But I’m not sure if that’s a good enough excuse for him to carry on like he does either. There’s plenty of children go through hard times who turn out to be upstanding members of Society. Perhaps Brian should read some Catherine Cookson or Barbara Taylor Bradford, to give him some ideas for his next novel.
I could have done with a happier ending. Maybe seen him settle down with a nice woman, had a couple of kids and make the effort to bring them up better than he had been brought up. But Brian seems determined to take a more pessimistic view of things. I think it’s what the Americans call “hard assed gritty realism” or something.
Any road, it kept me entertained for a couple of hours, so if you have a spare 99 of whatever coinage you use, you could do worse than invest it in Brian’s book.
You can find his WordPress blog, Indie Hero, which will tell you all about his book in his own words, and gives tips and information to people who are thinking about self publishing here.
You can find a very short piece I wrote about twins a few months ago here.

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