From the PR: “The Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK …In the early ’80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive … and forget.
Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loved Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy – a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland’s finest new voices.”
Last year I made the mistake of taking David F Ross’ The Rise of the Miraculous Vespas (review here) to read on a train. I say ‘mistake’ because it was so uproariously funny that I barely managed the self-control needed not to be that bloke in the Mr Bean sketch.
The Rise of the Miraculous Vespas was the story of Max Mojo and his attempts to manage the titular band all the way to the top, Malcolm McLaren style and was, itself, a sort-of-but-not-quite sequel / parallel story to David F Ross’ The Last Days of Disco with which it also shared many a familiar character.
Here we are, now, with The Man Who Loved Islands; the final entry of the ‘Disco Days’ trilogy which manages that rare thing for a third installment* and proves to be the best of the bunch.
It seems strange to say this given that only a year seperates each of the books but David F Ross’ writing style has gotten better with every one and this is the finest to date. There is plenty of hilarty within these 302 pages, some of which will most likely make you guffaw out loud (if it doesn’t there is something wrong with you), whether it be the so very welcome return of Max Mojo or whether it’s Hamish May’s vocal track and experiences with Ibiza’s hidden societies. Though, true to his character, Max Mojo steals those scenes and the idea of him – unable to fully control the malign voice in his head – swearing it up on BBC Breakfast caused me plenty of amusement, though “get fuckin’ practisin’ … ye’se sound like fuckin’ Coldplay!” takes the biscuit for best putdown.
However, what struck me most about The Man Who Loved Islands was the poingnancy of Joseph and Bobby coming to terms with where life has lead them, that bittersweet coming to terms with the passing of time and its inevitibality – Bobby swearing bitterly about Calvin Harris or Joey loading himself up with medication and setting himself adrift in China – and it’s in this capturing of a gentle defeat and surrender that David F Ross is at his most compelling.
The Man Who Loved Islands is the best kind of reunion. Finding out where all those characters had gotten to and finding out that the chemisty and you loved about them in the first place is still there… brilliant. There are some deeply moving and genuinely heartbreaking moments but the power of friendship and a love for music runs strong throughout and for all of life’s sucker punches and poingnancy, I’d say The Man Who Loves Islands is ultimlately an uplifting story of hope. And a bloody funny one at that, too.
While it’s the end of the Disco Days trilogy I sincerely hope there’s more to come from David F Ross – if only for another chance for a virtual rummage through his music collection.
My sincerest thanks again to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy and do check out those over stops on the The Man Who Loved Islands blogtour.
*Of course the Godfather Part 3 Rule whereby the third of the trilogy is the weakest of the bunch doesn’t just apply to film. Take the three ‘proper’ Bourne novels – the third of those is best kept on a shelf for the rare occasion you find yourself without toilet roll.