An old friend came to stay last week and I gave him a copy to take on the train home with him. I was a bit worried, given that
(a) he's a bloke and the book is all about love and stuff.
(b) he's not easily impressed.
So it was fun to receive the following three facebook messages over the next 12 hours.
"I am fucking loving your book. It needs a tidy up here and there, but some of it is absolutely brilliant."
"54% through. Need to sleep, but your bloody book is too good to put down."
"Fanfuckingtastic. You and Karin should be very proud of yourselves. That book is brilliant."
He later gave me some incredibly useful specific feedback that helps me with Trip's back-story, something my next reader was scathing about. This is the person who edited my Shropshire book. She pulls no punches at all. Which is an impressive thing for a friend to be able to do. In my experience most people glide over their misgivings with polite platitudes. Instead, she said (and I pick out the starting-points of several pages of knife wounds):
"I have no mental picture of either Trip and Ruth and cannot imagine how I would feel about either of them if I met them..."
(I will come back to this in a future post because I have been thinking about it a lot.)
"I have a problem with Trip in that I don't really believe he can exist in this form..."
"Ruth is a bit bland at the moment..."
"Do get on and tidy it up as I think it could be really good."
And, finally, I gave it to my wife to read. Anne is an English Lit grad, so naturally I expected insightful critique and deep textual analysis. Her feedback in full:
"I never knew Neil Diamond wrote 'Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon.'"