Waiting For Doggo

Waiting For Doggo

By Mark Mills

We have a bit of a game in our office. We try and find the most ridiculous X meets Y descriptors for new books.

Publishers will often try to sell a book into us by telling us it’s the next Gone Girl (which was the next Before I Go To Sleep, by the way) – or the next Fifty Shades. If there’s no obvious comparison they’ll tell us it’s the prodigal child of two other blockbusters.

 

Maeve Binchy meets Dan Brown

Harry Potter meets Queer as Folk

Game of Thrones meets Bridget Jones (Bridget Thrones, anyone?)

 

Ok – so, we’ve never actually had any of those (as far as I know!) but these are the kinds of descriptors we get. It’s sort of ridiculous, for example Gone Girl was bigger, better and completely different to BIGTS, but sort of understandable. I’ve used it myself (Memories of a Murder is Agatha Christie meets LOST, in case you were wondering) – it’s a really quick and simple way of explaining what you’re going to get.

Last week I received a proof copy of the new Mark Mills – Waiting for Doggo. Frankly, I was sold on the title alone – but the inside blurb describes it as appealing to ‘readers of Marley and Me and One Day and fans of It’s A Wonderful Life’

I’ve never seen It’s A Wonderful Life (shock!), I adored One Day, and I’ve never been that enticed by Marley & Me, so I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book.

First of all, it’s nothing like One Day, it has nowhere near the same emotional punch – but that doesn’t mean it’s not as good.

It’s a short book, but it’s almost perfectly constructed. It tells the tale of Dan who’s girlfriend of several years one day, just leaves him, leaving only a letter behind. She takes everything that they bought together over the years, including a wooden salad bowl. The only thing she’s left behind is the most recent addition to their family, an ugly, rescue dog temporarily named Doggo.

Doggo and Dan do not get on, but somehow they start to form a bond as Dan starts his new job at an advertising agency. Amazingly, Doggo is the most well-drawn character in the book, despite actually not getting a huge amount of ‘page-time’ (like screen time, but on paper).

That’s not a put down on the other characters, I actually think the reason the books is because he’s not a character, he’s a real person who springs forth right at the beginning of the book – everyone else – including Doggo – are the characters we see develop through his eyes, some of the minor ones not that well defined, to be honest.

The similarities between Doggo and Dan are not subtle, but they’re not clichéd, it’s this link between them, along with a great sense of humour (the Hatchback of Notre Dame particularly made me chuckle) makes for a great book.

There is a small emotional punch – naturally at the conclusion of Doggo’s arc – which almost elicits a tear or two, but at a mere 208 pages, the book can’t afford to dabble in sentimentality and so avoids dragging it out too long.

Waiting for Doggo is it’s own book – it deserves to stand alone on it’s own merit, so whether you’re a fan of Marley and Me, Game of Thrones or midgets wrestling in jelly (that last one’s not a book, I hope) – give it a go, at most you’ll lose an hour or two of your life, but the chances are you’ll find a little gem.

For me, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

If you can get hold of a proof copy, then do it – otherwise you’ll have to wait until it’s officially published in November of this year.

Pass the Gin

I mentioned in a previous post – at least I think I mentioned it, if I didn’t, then I’m mentioning it now – that a friend/colleague/flatmate of mine once said that I was too social to be a writer.

His view was that a writer is one of those people who sits inside, burrows themselves away and stays alone for months at a time, pouring their heart into their work – and likely, pouring gin into their mouths.  Simon romanticizes the process – and, there is likely nothing more romantic to him than being able to drink from morning to night.

But I disagree (not about the gin part). I like going out, of course I do, but there are some weekends where I get home from work at 6pm on a Friday night and don’t leave again until Monday morning. Even on these weekends, I often get little to no writing done.

It’s not because I’m too social, it’s because I get too easily distracted. Twitter. Facebook. The Simpsons: Tapped Out. The complete box set of Lost. Ironing. Painting the hallway. The flatmate (it’s a small flat, and he has a big mouth).

I recently deleted twitter from my phone. Not because of any misguided notion that without it I would become a 10,000 word a day writer, but because I just felt like I needed a break.

I did think that coming off twitter would give me a little extra time. But I’ve just found other distractions (Game of Trones, Grindr, this blog).

The trick to it is having a routine – and having one that you can stick to. I’m slowly trying to find one that works for me, but it’s difficult. Even if I do get all the little irrelevant distractions – life just gets in the way.

I will go back to twitter at some point – maybe soon – maybe I already have by the time I’ve posted this, because quitting it is not the secret to writing a bestseller.

I’ll try to give up some of the distractions and settle into a proper writing routine, but in the meantime, I need more friends on The Simpsons Tapped Out – I’m bertypop – add me!