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
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
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,
, 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,
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,
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.
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