by Gayle, Mike
Ever been dumped? No? You're lying. Mike Gayle, previously a contributor to FHM and Just Seventeen magazines has dipped his pen in the inkpot of universal experience and written a comic novel underpinned by rejection and the ripples (or tidal waves) it continues to produce for years afterwards. For exactly three years afterwards in the case of Will Kelly, assigned to the "history" drawer on his 23rd birthday by Aggi, (she of the titular moniker) and who is now undergoing his 26th "celebration" alone in his bedsit in Archway, North London.
English teacher, serial smoker and serious list-maker--Will is a Numnul, to quote Gayle; a "New Nineties New Man New Lad", living an existence that screams "Single!". Can you fall in love over the telephone with someone you've never met? Should your best friend sleep with your girlfriend? And just how many presents should a platonic friend send you on your birthday? In real time the novel takes place over a weekend, but in effect it traces a journey that has led to this tumultuous birthday, when Will considers marriage, death, fatherhood and Pot Noodles (but not in that order).
Helen Fielding and Nick Hornby are two names that will understandably haunt Mike Gayle, whose prescriptive hero has been dubbed the "male Bridget Jones", but Gayle's book probably owes more to early Martin Amis, soaked as it is in a fever of male self-pity redolent of The Rachel Papers or Success, though without the literary flourishes or darkness. Ultimately My Legendary Girlfriend is pulp fiction for the Pulp generation, an old-fashioned morality tale dressed up as an enjoyable romp that should appeal to lovers of Men Behaving Badly and anyone who has suffered the ignominy of having a Sting song quoted at them to justify a break-up. --David Vincent
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