Friday, 17 September 2010

#66 In the Rooms, by Tom Shone (Windmill Books)

This might not be the most celebrated or well-known novel I’ve read this year (it was an impulse pick-up at the library), but it was certainly among the most enjoyable, for a number of reasons.

A lot of In the Rooms (a phrase used to describe help meetings of alcoholics or drug users) dovetails nicely with this challenge – not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. Its main character is a literary agent, Patrick Miller, who has moved to New York and comes across a legendary reclusive author and finds the only way he can approach him is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. So he has to pretend he’s an alcoholic.

I deliberately didn’t add the phrase ‘with hilarious consequences’ to the end of that last sentence, but there are some very funny moments, mostly involving the characters he encounters at the meetings, as Miller finds himself slipping further and further into his deception and is unable to extricate himself from the lies he has told.

It’s a merry little tale. But where it chimes with this blog is in the book’s underlying close look at the relationship between authors and alcohol, and whether the likes of Raymond Carver, Elmore Leonard and Charles Bukowski wrote better drunk or sober.

Add in some insight into the workings of publishers, writers and literary agents, and guest appearances by the likes of Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, and it has the feel of real ‘writers’ book. I really enjoyed it.

So, rating time:

#66 In the Rooms, by Tom Shone (Windmill Books) - 8/10

Next up: Wodehouse at the Wicket, edited by Murray Hedgecock (Hutchinson)

  • Click here for the full list of books so far, and their rating
  • 1 comment:

    1. Thank you for your kind words!

      If you are interested in the themes of the book can I direct you to an article I wrote about writers and alcohol for Intelligent Life. It can be found at

      Love the blog. Chandler, Wodehouse, booze. All my interests in one place.

      Tom Shone