Plenty of laughs for your money. Well worth a read.Review by: Morgan Hobbes
While on my search for a new audiobook to listen to, I came across an oldie but goodie that I’ve read countless times – The Amateurs by John Niven. If I was to make a list of the all-time funniest books I’ve ever read, this would be very high on the list. 1 credit later and it was in my library.
I originally bought this book way back in 2009 (I think?) after reading the blurb and knowing it was for me. This was back when I still bought paperbacks, and I even imported it from the UK because I couldn’t wait for shops in Australia to carry it.
I’m not a golfer, but you don’t have to be to enjoy this story. Yes, the main character is obsessed with it but mainly because of how bad he is at it. Until one fateful day, he cops a golf ball to the head and his whole life changes. Sort of for the better, but a lot for the worse…
This book isn’t for the easily offended. After our hero Gary catches a golf ball in the side of his head, he wakes up a little changed from who he used to be. The change for the better is that he’s suddenly no longer the worlds worst golfer. The blow to the head has rendered it impossible for Gary to make a bad shot. He quickly climbs the ranks of his local club and even makes it through to the British Open where he gets to play alongside his golfing idol.
The downside is he’s also woken up with a Tourette’s syndrome and… well, an insatiable need to pleasure himself whenever he’s stressed.
The secondary plot line involves his wife who is cheating on him with the carpet king of Scotland, his useless brother Lee and local crime boss Ranta, all of which plays out a story reminiscent of say Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
There’s a lot of heavy Scottish-ness in the story which doesn’t bog it down too much even if I did have to replay a sentence once or twice the first time to understand what was said.
The narrator, Angus King, does a marvellous job as Gary, Lee, Ranta, and the rest and is quite a master of accents. As I mentioned above, I did need to replay a sentence once or twice because of the accents, but I don't think detracts from the story. They lend a certain authenticity to the characters.
You also get a real glimpse of what such a horrible affliction Tourette's would truly be. It's so often played for laughs (and indeed in this novel) but I think a real take-away from this is just how hard living a life with that syndrome would be.
All said and done though, there are plenty of laughs for your money - or Audible credit. Well worth a read.