Nonfiction Authors You Should Know: Stacy Horn
Tuesday Article: Are coders worth it?

Fiction Interlude: Charlotte Street

Charlotte Street
by Danny Wallace

I only read Danny Wallace's novel Charlotte Street a couple of weeks ago, and already I've pretty much forgotten everything about it. (Although I have this problem with fiction fairly often.)

Which might lead you to think I didn't like it, and that is not the case. I enjoyed it. I pretty much always like anything Danny Wallace writes, because I just enjoy Danny Wallace. And how can you not like a romance-ish novel, by a guy, with a subtitle like "a heartwarming everyday tale of boy stalks girl"? Very British, that.

So: let's get the plot details out of the way. 30-ish Brit Jason Priestley (who has to explain to people, often, that no, he is not the Jason Priestley of Beverly Hills 90210/Brandon Walsh fame), a former teacher, is trying to start over with a new career and a new life, while still sometimes writing unkind things about his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on her social media page. Then one day he helps a stranger pick up the packages she dropped while getting into a cab, and finds, after she's gone, that he's in possession of a disposable camera that is hers. Should he develop the pictures? Or is that just weird?

And so on and so forth. If you can term a novel by a guy about a guy "chick lit," that's what I'd call this one. In parts it's a bit darker than most chick lit romances, but that's pretty par for the course for British writing (I think; but I might just have that idea because I watch a lot of British TV series and man, those people are not afraid to kill off their main characters). And if you're an Anglophile, you'll love the descriptions of London. My one quibble with the novel (and Mr. CR thought this too; he must have read parts of the book also) is that it's just too long. It's a good story, but it wasn't sufficiently complex to need 400 pages.* I'll let the main character introduce himself:

"I'm the thirty-two-year-old Jason Priestley who lives on the Caledonian Road, above a videogame shop between a Polish newsagents and that place that everyone thought was a brothel, but wasn't. The Jason Priestey who gave up his job as a deputy head of department in a bad North London school to chase a dream of being a journalist after his girlfriend left him but who's ended up single and going to cheap restaurants and awful films so's he can write about them in that free newspaper they give you on the tube that you take but don't read." (p. 5.)

*I always think this about Judd Apatow movies too. They're funny, but they all need to be about 15-25 minutes shorter.