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STAYING ALIVE
(author site) by Matt Beaumont.  Fiction, 2004.  435 Pages.  HarperCollins Publishers. The thought of somebody falling roughly down a flight of stairs just slays me.  So does seeing someone getting suddenly bashed in the head with an airborne object.  Is it any wonder I found Staying Alive, a book whose protagonist is diagnosed with aggressive and terminal cancer, absolutely hilarious?  No itís not, ya sick fucks (okay, maybe Iím the sick fuck, but it feels better thinking of you all that way instead, okay?), and Iíll eventually tell you why.  I have to admit that, nerd that I am, I actually pre-ordered this book before it came out.  I did this because Matt Beaumontís first two books, e and The e Before Christmas, were absolutely fantastic.  Both were written as a series of e-mails between a fucked up, extremely funny, highly entertaining group of people who work at a London ad agency, and they were thoroughly enjoyable reads.
     Now, on to Staying Alive, which is written traditionally instead of as a long exchange of lively e-mails: Murray Colin is an early thirty something, strait-laced advertising account executive with a real penchant for cleaning and neatness.  Heís starting to hate his job, and Megan, the love of his life, has just left him for a dashing, telegenic, conniving, blustery, semi-famous, older Scottish attorney from the law firm she works at.  And she did this just before he was about to propose to her.  Then he discovers a lump in his ball sack, gets it checked out by a doctor and is told he not only has cancer, but that itís spread throughout his body and he only has a few months to live.  While there are some amusing moments as Murray relates his situation up to this point, things really take off from here.  A combination of his sort of reluctant desire to live life to the fullest before he dies and some outright funny coincidences have him doing things he never dreamed of before.  He ends up providing a place to crash for a homeless teenager who broke into his apartment and whose boyfriend knocked the shit out of him in the process.  He starts taking drugs and drinking way too much.  He borrows a big chunk of money from the Russian mob so he can really live it up for a bit, figuring heíll die before he has to pay it back.  (And as an aside, Clark , the liaison between Murray and the moneylenders, is one of the best characters in the book.  A handsome, vain young man with long, gorgeous shampoo ad-like hair, Clark also has a speech impediment that makes him sound like a vicious version of Elmer Fudd.  Itís an endless source of amusement.) To top it all off, Murray ends up being strongly suspected of committing a hit and run murder.  And on and on it goes.  While all this is happening, he starts feeling sicker and sicker, but he also ends up experiencing a passion for love and for life that he didnít realize he could have.  Oh, if only there was some way to stay alive.  HmmÖ
     These harrowing circumstances are related in a manner thatís as sharply witty as it is heartfelt, and itís really a blast to read.  I had a hard time putting Staying Alive down; itís truly one of those books that I wish went on for at least a hundred pages more.  I bet you sick fucks will feel the same way. ĖBen Hunter

 

 

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