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It's What He Would've Wanted: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Sean Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $16.99
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

Sean Hughes is an award-winning Irish comic turned bestselling writer whom the British Independent has compared to the likes of Irvine Welsh, James Kelman, and Will Self. Now, the popular comedian delivers It's What He Would've Wanted, a brutally funny, highly charged, and moving novel about a directionless thirty-year-old man's belated transition into adulthood.
Our narrator and protagonist is Shea Hickson, a commitment-phobic just-turned-thirty-year-old with somewhat adolescent leanings. Shea lives off lottery winnings and spends his time blindly serving a secret organization whose stated duty is to "seek truth," which, though Shea doesn't quite realize it, turns out to be a small-time terrorist gig. Shea's parents appear to be a quintessentially comfortable, suburban middle-class couple, and when sons Shea and Orwell (named after Che Guevara and George, their father having been something of a nostalgic radical) arrive for Christmas Eve, all seems as it should be. But when Shea turns a corner to find his father, a BBC weatherman, hanging from the light fixture, the son's disaffected existence is turned upside down. Worse, Shea's discovery of an encoded journal his father had been keeping uncovers shocking revelations about his father's disappointed life as a parent, husband, and disillusioned minor celebrity. Jolted from his emotional ennui, Shea determines to figure out what drove his father to his death and, in the process of unraveling the Hickson family's increasingly distasteful secrets, comes to better understand himself.
With wry humor and savage undercurrents, the story winds through the seamier side of London life -- skirting the worlds of television, newspapers, and small-scale urban terrorism. Buoyed by Hughes's edgy humor and Seinfeldian observations about modern life, It's What He Would've Wanted dissects and mutilates traditional family values as it maps one son's attempt to piece together a world fractured by alienation, paranoia, and conflict.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Raunchy, irreverent and intermittently amusing, this rambling black comedy tells the unlikely story of a 30-something London slacker with a clandestine second life. Shea Hickson may confess his postadolescent discontent with all the self-aware self-indulgence of a Nick Hornby character, but he justifies his hazy existence by his secret participation as "Little John" in an anti-celebrity underground conspiracy out of a Ben Elton satire. When his father, a popular BBC-TV weatherman, commits suicide, Shea has something in his life to take seriously other than culture jamming for the mysterious "Robin Hood," his contact in the guerrilla organization. His father's diary reveals a secret life of his own, and Shea decides to track down the people in it, who are code-named the Sun, the Wind, the Clouds and El Ni¤o. Hughes, a popular British stand-up comedian, produces torrents of one-liners and even scattered satiric invective, but no cohesive plot. As Shea explores his father's past, from radical lefty university days to compromised media career, he realizes that the old man's sins are going to be visited on his sons. Shea, his brother, and even a mysterious half-brother in Australia are in imminent danger. For all the Martin Amis-style black humor and bad sex, the final, telegraphed twist to Hughes's talky satire about the chattering classes can't unite its disparate voices. (Mar.)Forecast: Hughes is a bestselling author in England, but his celebrity status in the U.K. won't help the book much here, and the novel's flaws probably will keep its sales from being what Hughes would have wanted.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Shea Hickson's father, a TV weatherman, commits suicide, and when Shea discovers the body along with a series of diaries, his life, for the first time, has direction. He must decipher his father's meteorologically encrypted diaries and unfold the complicated and painful story leading up to his suicide. But this is no ordinary grief observed. Shea confronts every crisis in his life with an unhealthy dose of glib sarcasm, and his discoveries about his father are often as funny as they are tragic (he sleeps with his father's mistress, for instance). Young Hickson also must confront impending fatherhood, following a one-night stand with his hairdresser, and perform one final task for the shady leftist organization for which he has worked for several years. The frenetic pace of the novel continues to speed up until a brilliantly wrought, heart-rending conclusion gives the novel emotional power it might otherwise lack. Some readers may tire of Shea's talky, introspective narration, but following Shea around feels like driving through the streets of nighttime London at 140 kilometers per hour--terrifying and horrible, but really fun. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1841 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 2, 2001)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0QFC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,997,233 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One For Hughes Fans and Like Minds January 18, 2002
People familiar with Sean Hughes' comedy and previous writings will find common themes in this novel - loneliness, hopelessness and generally 'what its all about'. I found this a more satisfying read than 'The Detainees' as, although the bulk of this book was quite gloomy, its ending is uplifting. In any case, I generally find Hughes' work more 'realistic' than 'depressing'. And, as always, Hughes delivers with insightful comment on everyday life and the best one-liners around. If you have found yourself to be 'on his wavelength' before, then I thoroughly recommend 'Its What He Would've Wanted'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not so bad! April 8, 2003
I liked it. Yes, this is a very depressing book, but it's also hopeful. There were humorous moments and touching moments. Above all, this was one of the most honest books I've read. It's lesson is that reality can be harsh and you have to cherish the good times, and it's a novel worth reading.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much... February 13, 2002
Irish comic Hughes' second novel (following The Detainees) is so packed with problems for its protagonist Shea that one ends up feeling like it's trying too hard to achieve a delicate mix of poignancy and black humor. Shea is yet another of those just-turned-30 English slackers who haven't quite done anything with themselves yet, and when his weatherman father commits suicide, it propels him on a quest for meaning. The story consists of Shea's attempt to understand why his father killed himself (which is aided by coded diaries and disturbing pictures), while also trying to patch up his relationship with his brother, get over his old girlfriend, deal with the hairdresser he impregnates, and do the proverbial "one last job" for a loose cultural guerrilla organization dedicated to bringing down bigwigs.
If it all sounds like a bit much and a bit silly, it is. There are too many big events going on in his life at once for any one of them to be fully explored. Shea is highly unlikeable for much of the tale, with whiny internal monologues, a sarcastic and glib approach to life, and sexual fixations, he comes across like an even more self-indulgent Nick Horbny protagonist, but his self-discovery at the end comes much too late and too easily. There are some funny moments, and some genuinely good bits about familial love, but too many contrivances, coincidences, and cheap jokes get in the way of things.
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