Thursday, June 12, 2008

Me and Mickie James by Drew Gummerson

Drew Gummerson
Me and Mickie James

Published by Jonathan Cape

Reviewed by Liam Tullberg


Me and Mickie James is Drew Gummerson's second novel following 2002's The Lodger.

With the premise that a dream should never be surrendered, it's a warm and charming story of the un-named narrator and his hunchback boyfriend, Mickie James. Together they comprise the pop duo, Down By Law, who, with song titles like 'Mermaids Are For Life' and 'Hunchback Christmas', are still awaiting their big break whilst they flit between dead end jobs including a stage appearance as a typecast Quasimodo and a reluctant cameo in porn.

But it's during a stint working in a cheese shop for eternal pessimist, Con, that a chance encounter introduces them to one-time-pop-star turned musical enigma, Ivan Norris-Ayres.

Their adventure soon begins and our two central characters find themselves swinging not only from one bizarre scenario to the next, but also from continent to continent until, in America, it finally looks as if they may have made it.

What makes Me and Mickie James such a pleasure to read is the immediacy of the writing. It's an entertaining story that moves along at a great pace and introduces a cast of kooky, original characters such as the magician Harlan Harlan and his glamorous assistant, Penelope: a couple with a past that they thought they were rid of, but soon catches up with them in the form of crazy-in-love giant, Gus.

While there are a range of intriguing supporting characters, it is the lead protagonists who make the story and the two central characters are a fantastically bizarre couple between whom dialogue is snappy and believable and for whom readers will surely empathise and rally behind.
Though Gummerson has written Mickie James as a character with a hunchback, this affliction comes up very rarely throughout the novel. When it does, it is not in order to raise issues of physical abnormality, but rather to represent the baggage we all see as holding us back from achieving our full potential and realising our dreams.

Me and Mickie James is a classic British underdog story with a difference; the difference being that the underdog is a gay couple, one of whom is a hunchback and the other, by his own admission, actually isn't very talented at all.

In this respect, Gummerson has written a novel that's a fresh and welcome take on gay fiction and one that, like Down By Law's song titles and lyrics, won't be forgotten in a hurry.


Liam Tullberg is currently working on his novel, Keeping You A Secret, and can be contacted through www.liamtullberg.com

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