Thursday 14 December 2017

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) by Marie Gameson @MarieGameson #MrGadd #BlogTour

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) explores the painful themes of having to grieve for someone who is not yet dead, and trying to find one’s identity through an absent father.
Winifred Rigby follows a Zen‑like path of serenity and detachment, whilst leaving havoc in her wake. When Fred, a stranger haunted by poltergeist activity, contacts Winnie, he insists that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, and she is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.
Where will it all lead?

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (Deceased) by Marie Gameson was published by Salt Publishing in July 2017.
I'm delighted to welcome the author, Marie Gameson here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books

My Life In Books - Marie Gameson

Almost any Enid Blyton book: Mystery / Adventure / Five do heaven-knows-what

My childhood was largely lived in Enid Blyton books, and fortunately they have equipped me with all the knowledge I need to get through my remaining life-span. I know how to treat a horse with colic, and how to get out of a locked room. I know not to freak out if I pick up a slow-worm and its tail falls off. I still don’t know what a dock leaf looks like, but if a fellow walker falls into nettles and starts whingeing, I find that rubbing them down with a large leaf from any old nearby plant seems to shut them up. My favourite Blyton books concerned children living on islands, though as practical guides to island-survival they were pretty hopeless as the children never seemed to have much problem finding food, and never had go to the loo. That aside, I owe Blyton a lot for setting my young imagination on fire.

The Dark Is Rising – Susan Cooper

I loved all five books that make up The Dark Is Rising sequence. I don’t like the Fantasy genre, but Susan Cooper’s mix of Arthurian legend, pagan fable and children living in a relatively modern Britain sat well with my teenage mindset. And of course there is always the charm of being a ‘chosen one’ – predestined to fight the rising dark forces. My ambition was to write similar books for adults, but having written one with a Green Man theme – and spent almost a year re-writing it with a wonderful editor and fellow Cooper-fan, the publishing company went out of business. One day I’ll get back to it.

Engleby – Sebastian Faulks

Something about the cover of the paperback (above) was enough to give me an idea of what to expect. The character of Mike Engleby was definitely an influence on The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased), in terms of having a narrator who is detached from the people around them, has developed some extreme coping mechanisms, but who – freed from mundane conventions - is also ruthlessly insightful.
There are some wonderful digs at pompous academia, which presumably came direct from Faulks’s experience at Cambridge university: the description of the professor who announces that he has become a Maoist, and the complete inability of the dons to articulate what English students should actually be doing.
Whatever evil deed Engleby has done (and he can’t quite remember), knowledge of his appalling childhood makes it impossible not to feel sorry for him. In the end, this book offers the most powerful appeal for intervention to stop bullying. Although the story is a fascinating journey in the head of a cold, unemotional narrator, the reader still feels like screaming “we could have stopped this from happening”. It should be mandatory reading for any adult who comes out with some ‘bullies are victims too’ old tosh to justify not intervening.

Erasure – Percival Everett

This is a full-on, cringey journey through the minefield of racial stereotypes in America, with a wonderfully grumpy narrator (Thelonious Ellison). People are sometimes at their most ridiculous (and their most prejudiced) when they look for authenticity in groups they don’t belong to, and this phenomenon is taken to its extreme in Erasure, when a book called ‘We's Lives in Da Ghetto’ (written by a black middle-class woman) is feted as the authentic voice of black American experience. No-one can understand why Ellison (a black professor of English literature) is hugely offended by this, and his complaints that the book has no literary merit are met with surprise that he isn’t happy that ‘one of his own’ is having such success.
Ellison’s latest book is rejected for not being ‘black enough’ (to be fair, his writing is so erudite as to be completely unintelligible), so he goes to the other extreme, dashing off a novel that incorporates every modern black stereotype he can throw in. To his horror, the book is instantly successful, and there is nothing he can do to rein in the monster he’s created. Brutally satirical, ‘Erasure’ somehow manages to be simultaneously very sad and very funny.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

One of the reasons we have so much fascination with stories about aristocratic families, set in the Edwardian and post-Edwardian eras is we know that the house is just a temporary bulwark against the social upheaval happening outside in British society; we know that things are about to change, and maintaining the great house will become more difficult with the ascendancy of ‘Downstairs’ and the threatened fortunes of the ‘Upstairs’.
In ‘The Little Stranger’ the problems of maintaining the house are taken to the absolute extreme: what’s left of the aristocratic family have to take refuge in an ever decreasing number of habitable rooms whilst the mansion rots around them. The ‘Downstairs’ is not just represented by the diminished staff but also by the narrator – a doctor who is obsessed with the once great home and takes every opportunity to be there. It is hard not to feel some schadenfreude when the family and their friends make it plain that the doctor’s social rank is inferior and come to grief themselves, but it is also hard to feel sympathy for him.
The best feature of the book is the ever growing menace of the house, as it seems to feed off human anxieties and to consume its inhabitants. I’m surprised to see this described as a ghost story, as one of the reasons I like it is that the supernatural elements seem just within the boundaries of possibility, to me, anyway. Maybe I have a high ‘boggle threshold’. I had a very brief experience of poltergeist experience as a teenager, and had no problem accepting this story, which culminates in the reader catching sight of the true culprit in the final paragraphs.

Please do pop along and visit the other Bloggers that are taking part in the Blog Tour over the next few days

Marie Gameson is half of the mother and daughter writing team who published The Turtle Run as 'Marie Evelyn'. 

Her latest book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published by Salt this summer and is available on Amazon. 

You can find out more about her and her books at her website,
Follow her on Twitter @MarieGameson

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