I found Brian Bilston’s poetry a few months ago via The High Low podcast. Hosts Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes talked about and tweeted some of his poetry and I began to follow him on Twitter and Instagram. It was through social media, (I also happen to follow his agent), that I discovered he was soon to have a book published, called Diary of a Somebody.
In my part-time job as a bookseller, I am lucky to have access to uncorrected proofs or advanced reading copies (ARCs) of books prior to their launch. Brian’s was one we were lucky to receive, and after all these signs pointing me to his book, I settled down to read it.
It took a little time getting used to the style, (part of the premise is that Brian plans to write a poem every day for his new year resolution.) This is no bad thing because it is good to read books that are stylistically different, and this one is refreshingly so. As I engaged with the format, Brian’s character really began to shine. I developed the same affection for him as I did for Eleanor in Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
He is frustrating, socially awkward and a bit of a bumbler, which is exactly why I became his cheerleader. If I wasn’t laughing at his quiet, but razor-sharp, sense of humour, I was willing him to do well, and frequently saying, ‘Oh come on Brian!’
Diary of a Somebody is a great book about the ordinary life of an underdog, trying to win the girl, be a good dad and write a great poem… with a casual murder mystery thrown in on the side. Award for Best Supporting Role goes to Mrs McNulty the completely bonkers neighbour.