Review – The News Where You Are – Catherine O’Flynn

Having thoroughly enjoyed What Was Lost, Catherine O’Flynn’s award winning debut novel, I was really looking forward to this, her latest offering.  Again it’s a very British book, focussed on urban life in all its monochrome dullness but does it escape the curse of the second novel?

Our anti-hero of sorts is Frank Allcroft, presenter on a regional TV news programme.  Frank seems quite accepting of his rather dull job presenting rather dull stories to an indifferent public.  Ironically it is his “dullness” and cringeworthy jokes which gain him cult status amongst students – I’ve never quite understood the attraction of  cheesey daytime shows but there’s no accounting for taste!

It’s possible that some sort of mid-life crisis has triggered Frank’s desire to recapture the past, rescue the memories of those who die alone, leaving flowers on the doorsteps of the deceased, attending the funerals of those without relatives or friends.  This theme of  loss and fruitless efforts to hang on to the past is echoed in the demolition of the buildings which Frank’s architect father designed in Birmingham in the 60s – nothing lasts yet we still strive to cling onto the past.

Frank’s predecessor, Phil, who has gone to carve a successful career on national tv, tries to avoid the perils of the aging process – permatan, cosmetic surgery – the facade is key.  Frank, in his own humdrum way, tries to prove that what lies underneath is more important but with the urban landscape constantly regenerating, female tv presenters discarded at the first inkling of wrinkling, he has a battle on his hands.

Catherine O’Flynn demonstrates once more what a fabulously talented writer she is, imbuing the mundane with emotion and intensity.  It’s a slow-paced, profound novel, perhaps not as striking as What Was Lost but still a very rewarding read.

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5 Comments

  1. I love very British novels and I love discovering new authors. Consider this novel and the debut novel added to Mount TBR. :)

  2. admin says:

    Glad to be of service, Susi. :-)

  3. Jenny says:

    I always hear nice things about Catherine O’Flynn, and I’ve finally stopped mixing her up with Maggie O’Farrell, but I hate her titles. Whenever I think of reading her books, I get cranky about the blandness of the titles and don’t bother. Which is almost worse than judging a book by its cover! :p

  4. Robbie says:

    I found you through Jackie’s recommendation for BBAW and I am loving your blog so far. There is something about this book that is reminding me of the old cult classic Harold and Maude. It has long been one of my favorite movies. I think I’ll be needing to add this one to my TBBought list. Thanks!

  5. admin says:

    Thanks for visiting, Robbie. Looking forward to reading your blog too. :-) Off to investigate Harold and Maude!

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