"You had nothing to run away from, you see, in your past there was nothing to hide from so you stayed where you were: reading comics and doing swaps and listening to pop music."
The Swap is Brit Pop literature: alternative, loud and fun. It reads like a farce that is highly entertaining and easy to read.
Harvey Briscow, a comic shop owner, returns to a school reunion in Cornwall in an attempt to track down a copy of Superman 1 that he swapped as a kid. In doing so he stumbles into murder, mystery and love ...
"Mmm." She nodded and smiled again and this time the emeralds went soft and turned into forest pools like the ones in Swamp Thing."
Debut author, Antony Moore's love of comics shines through his writing, as in the quote above, and his strength lies in building up characters that are believable despite the cartoon edges he gives to their actions.
One of my favourite scenes is with Briscow on the phone to his Mother.
"It was his mother, which caused Harvey a certain degree of outrage: he had rung her yesterday, done his duty for the week."
"-his mother would come on the line and in her little tiny voice, the one that he didn't recognise, the one she saved for other people, would say "Hello", as if she had never spoken on the telephone before and she might be punished for it."
Here as in other places, Moore's humour comes from mirroring back to us in a heightened way the mundane of the real world that surrounds us all.
The Swap isn't a window into a different culture like Khaled Hosseini, or one that gives profound insights into human nature like Mark Haddon, neither is it as bizarre and clever as Kurt Vonnegut, but it is enjoyable and likable:
the sort of book to pack in your suitcase for a light read on some sun washed beach.
Somewhere like Cornwall even ...
on the rare occasions when it's not raining.
Antony Moore was born in Cornwall and now lives in London.
Read a great article by Antony Moore in The Times, called Letting go of your first novel is so very hard to do.
COMPETITION: Win a copy of The Swap.
Leave a comment on site about what your favourite comic was as a kid and why.
Best comment wins!
Closing date 09th November.
Prize courtesy of Amazon.co.uk who sent me a second book in error and have agreed that one of you lucky readers can have it as a prize.
Next Month: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday.