After his success in winning the Whitbread Prize in 1988 with The Comforts of Madness, Paul Sayer has returned to the eternally rich vein of British lunacy. I say British because the background the author creates for his sub-yuppie couple, Michael Crumly and his wife Susan, so infuse the plot that you could not imagine the novel happening anywhere else. And with this book that is not an entirely good thing.
For Michael is a graphic designer from Yorkshire who has moved to the wicked city of London. The trouble is, Sayer’s London is not one I recognise. It has a provincial quality and for all intents and purposes the work could be set in Leeds. One does not feel any of the vast impersonal nature of a big city.
‘But each weekday morning, as on this morning, the mood in the street was different – the city workers loaded the paper chattels of their businesses into their cars with brisk, concentrated energy, while the factory hands shambled along with dissension in their voices and resentment and resignation etched in