Sunday, 26 April 2009

28 - 'Wish You Were Here' by Mike Gayle

Dear Mike,

We've had some good times, it's true, and that makes this all the more difficult. I remember the good-old days, back when I was a university student, at the inception of the 'lad-lit' trend. Nick Hornby's 'Fever Pitch' blazed a trail for other writers, such as Tony Parsons and yourself, to begin writing about the lives of men. Finally, even in the era of 'Loaded' and 'FHM', it was alright for blokes to pick up a book and read about life in nineties' England.

I loved your early books and looked forward to when they came out, but, more recently, I've had the feeling that something wasn't right; I didn't really enjoy them as much. While the topics were similar (thirty-something men, friends/partners, relationships at a crossroads), they just didn't seem to grab me anymore, the way they used to.

Even so, when my wife got your latest book, 'Wish You Were Here', from the local library, I was keen to read it and forget the bleak Melbourne weekend while immersed in your tale of thirty-something English friends on a week's holiday in Crete. I was hoping to find something of the old magic, the stories which entertained me all those years ago. I was disappointed.

Were the charcters always so one-dimensional? Were the plots always so transparent (and frankly uninteresting)? Was the dialogue always so stilted and un-lifelike? As I skimmed through the pages, not really caring about what was happening (but too cold and flu-ridden to do anything else), I wondered where it had all gone wrong. And then I knew.

I'm sorry, Mike. It's not you. It's me. You and your books are the same as they always were. You have remained constant and faithful, you can be relied on for the same structure and characters. I'm the one who has changed; I've grown, and I need more from a book. I want a well-developed plot, believeable characters, dialogue that sounds convincing and natural, interior monologues, description that enhances the background of the story. I need good writing.

It's not your fault that you can't give me what I need, and I'm grateful for all the good times we had, but it's time to move on. Don't take this the wrong way; it doesn't reflect on you as a writer. I just need to be free to experience other authors, other genres, other books. It's over.

I hope there are no hard feelings. Once you've had time to think it over, I'm sure you'll realise it's for the best. There are other readers out there, younger, less-experienced readers, who will appreciate your work for what it is and not demand what you can't give. Good luck, and all the best for the future.

Thanks for everything,