- File Size: 6269 KB
- Print Length: 315 pages
- Publisher: AMMFA Publishing; 1 edition (January 14, 2014)
- Publication Date: January 14, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00CBDD73Q
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,540,568 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$15.99|
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Head of Words Kindle Edition
|Length: 315 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
In the case of Head of Words, I felt like a co-conspirator with author Chris Ward. I guessed what he was going to do with the story line, and I kept going for two reasons: first, because this new novel is such a good read; and only secondarily because I wanted to make sure that I was right.
I was, and I loved the novel.
Head of Words is narrated by Daniel Barker, a university drop-out who's set up a "doss house" in a very small apartment in Bristol. For my readers on the western side of the Atlantic, that means he takes in as roommates just about everyone he meets. At the opening of the novel, there are thirteen people living in the one-bedroom flat, plus a small dog: Daniel himself; the angry and dangerous Shane; Stevie, who dreams of being a rock singer; Aunt Rita and Uncle Rick; the cynical Clive, Dan's oldest friend who's endlessly playing chess with Uncle Rick; the bickering, indecisive twins, Ernie and George; Polly, the exotic pole dancer; Angelo, the great seducer; Bernard from Jamaica, who has an inexhaustible supply of weed; the eccentric tinkerer Franz; and the latest addition, Lisa, the talented artist.
The book chronicles the adventures, stresses, arguments and compromises inevitable among such a large group in a small space. Aunt Rita establishes some kind of order, cooking meals that somehow stretch one income to feed thirteen people and a dog. Angelo alternately pursues Polly and Lisa, while dodging a former lover's phone calls; Shane gets into fights, justifying his actions by claiming he's defending the group; and Stevie exasperates everyone with futile striving for rock stardom.
Ward writes a story or two for almost every character. He shows us how each one came into Dan's life and, usually immediately, into his house, too. Every character is believable and developed, except maybe for Clive -- as Dan's oldest friend, he should have more ink in this book.
The writing is funny, touching, moving and absolutely compelling. Ward is obviously a professional writer, and although (I hate to admit it) I had never heard of him before he contacted me with an advance review copy, I find he's already published several collections of short stories. From the style, any reader can see he knows the craft of writing. Another example of the kind of writing that the publishing companies and critics SAY they want to see, but don't actually support.
Head of Words is one of those books you cannot put down. And if you, too, guess the twist, I don't think you'll be able to close it on that account.
Chris Ward knows how to keep readers on for the ride.
With thirteen in a single bedroom apartment things can get a little cozy, especially when each resident has a decidedly singular character. But this suits Dan just fine - that is, until a crisis leaves him bewildered and alone.
"Head of Words" is a novel of two fairly distinct parts. First, is the 'before' or 'leading up to' half and the second is the 'after' or 'fall-out' half.
Dan lives in a one bedroom apartment with a total of thirteen residents - twelve people and one dog. This bizarre living arrangement is broken down by the author into a series of small vignettes describing the arrival of each into these cramped quarters. In parallel, the time-line inches forward in the present, with rising tensions an omen of impending crisis within the apartment.
The co-tenants consist of such a diverse group of personalities and each of their entrances into Dan's life and apartment are recounted, sometimes to hilarious effect. I was happily trapped within the cacophony, but wondered what form the coming crisis would take. I was delivered - an event.
After this event, Dan finds himself alone, having lost his friends; his apartment no longer a haven. It is at this point that Dan's mystery begins as he searches for his friends and tries to avoid a mysterious and threatening stranger.
I really enjoyed the plot for this novel, and I appreciated the rather drastic change in mood in the second half. The laugh-out-loud scenes in the book, help give the jagged transition into darkness more impact. I admit that I was enjoying the vignettes so much that I failed to notice the significance underlying the story, which made the journey all the more fascinating for me.
It's hard to really give the space required to illuminate the eccentric characters that make up this story, but in the centre is Dan. It's his apartment and he tends to keep the different personalities around him in line. He comes across as an affable, submissive and broke adult who is failing his way through life. A dramatic scene has estranged him from his parents and the only real support he has (although not really financial) is from his friends.
It's hard to really like Dan. He's a bit of a nothing character who's only real interest to the reader is the company he keeps. But, I believe this is the point of his portrayal. He is the most lifeless and yet most vital part of the group. As he's falling, the reader feels an overwhelming sense of inevitability with rock bottom being the only possible destination.
I have previously read "The Tube Riders" by this author and reviewed it favourably. This book is decidedly different, but equally enjoyable.
If you like the idea of lively series of vignettes with eccentric characters devolving into a personal descent into darkness, I can definitely recommend this novel. I know it's a fairly unusual construction, but I believe that it works well.