Frank Burton was born in Lancashire in 1979, and now lives in Hampshire. He has been published widely in the UK, Australia and USA. He is the author of the short story collection, A History of Sarcasm (Dog Horn 2009), and the founder of the Philistine Press website, www.philistinepress.com. The Prodigals is his first novel.
on Oct. 09, 2013 :
This is a good novel – but it’s quite episodic and unconventional in its approach (so you may need to be a bit patient with it at first). For example, we are introduced to the main character, Travis, in the first chapter – but then, aside from a couple of fleeting appearances, he vanishes from sight until about half way through. The first half of the book, meanwhile, divides its time largely between three other characters - Brian, Howard and Declan - who are connected to Travis (but fairly loosely connected).
Brian and Howard are close friends who are both into religion – but a row over a seemingly trivial incident in a pub drives them apart. Howard joins the police but is traumatised after witnessing a shooting. Declan, meanwhile, becomes increasingly withdrawn and retreats to his bedsit, where he ponders the meaning of his rather soulless existence. The second part of the novel tells how Travis went from being one of the brightest pupils at his school to dropping out at 15-16, leaving home and eking out a living in a succession of dead-end jobs, not seeing his parents for over ten years.
It’s a difficult book to categorise, combining gritty social realism with existentialist musings on why we’re here and what the point of it all is – which might make it sound quite heavy going, but in fact, it has a lot to offer in the way of lively incident and wry humour. All in all, an ambitious, well written and unconventional literary novel (would've given it 4.5 stars if Smashwords had allowed this). Not everyone will like it, but it’s free (or it was at the time of this review), so why not give it a go? For a longer review, see:
(review of free book)