The title of this book – My Biggest Lie by Luke Brown – made me think about the biggest lie I’ve ever told. Although I can’t think of a truly dishonest whopper, I did tell a lie once that had far-reaching consequences (it involved a boy, let’s call him Boy A; a party; meeting of another boy (Boy B); realisation that I didn’t like Boy A much anymore; a break-up with Boy A (insert lie for reason); some months thinking about Boy B before seeing him again; marrying Boy B).
Lies tend to either hang around or have a snowball effect. That’s why it’s best not to tell them. Liam Wilson, the main character of the story, discovers this as his life moves from glamorous-London-publisher-with-girlfriend to single-unemployed-guy-living-in-Buenos-Aires. A whole bunch of lies facilitate the process. Liam wants his London life back but does he have to lie to get it?
“There was a time not long ago when I thought that lying was the most natural thing in the world. I was young and I had a good haircut and a girlfriend I loved…. I wore suits I couldn’t afford in the hope that this was the way that one day I would be able to afford them…. I never spoke to anyone about Sarah because if I did I’d have to tell everyone how much I adored her. I didn’t want to over complicate the portrait.”
Look past the obvious and clumsy scene-setting at the beginning of the book and focus on the tremendously good characters. Brown sums people up in neat quips –
“When he plays James, laddish, down-to-earth football fan, who happens to be able to recite lines of poetry by Ezra Pound, he comes on like a Renaissance Liam Gallagher.”
“Arturo….in a black shirt with three buttons undone. That’s a hard look to pull off without coming across as a salsa-class Casanova. He managed it.”
“Cockburn was forty-three and looked like a Top Gear presenter: like a midlife crisis.”
There are quite a few characters in the story but all are extremely well thought out. In fact, I felt particular affection for a few of them, which is nice given that their behaviour was, for the most part, terrible (or real? You be the judge).
Brown has made a wise choice using the publishing world as his backdrop. Lines such as ‘…there are few things more undignified than an editor who writes’, coupled with descriptions of drug and alcohol fueled book fairs (who cares if it’s true?!), make it deliciously rock’n’roll. I’m sure there’s a deeper message there about the price of success and the ruthlessness of the industry but I didn’t really move past the salacious details.
My Biggest Lie is like a more self-aware take on The Deep Whatsis. It made me laugh out loud, a few bits surprised me, and it gave me a glimpse of Argentina.
I received my copy of My Biggest Lie from the publisher, Canongate Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
2.5/5 The old saying goes “Liars never prosper” – I’ll let you discover whether this holds true for Liam.
Apparently Fernet is considered the ‘national drink’ of Argentina. It’s described as a bitter, licorice-meets-mouthwash flavour and is drunk either neat or with cola.. Well, when in Argentina…. Cheers.