World-renowned sculptor and hell-raiser Patsy Burke comes to in a cheap hotel in Paris covered in blood and with a broken arm—and no idea what happened the night before. Thus begins a journey through the bars of Paris, during which Patsy, with the help of a few “friends,” including Caravaggio and the Scandal Man, attempts to unravel the events of the previous day and night. Along the way, he relives the major occurrences of his past, most of which involve a combination of women, drink, and violence. Has he ever been truly responsible for the man he is, whether for his successes or for another crime he suspects he may have committed? His “friends” take him to breaking point. If he does not wish his life to finally come full circle, he must make one final, possibly fatal choice. (from Goodreads)
One of the classic lines in “The Imitation of Patsy Burke” must be: “What came first? Was it the overdrinking or was it the voices?”(page 10). If the reader has not figured it out by this early point in the novel, this quote ensures a better understanding of the narration. The “voices”, the “friends”, exist within the very compelling mind of the main character, Patsy Burke; in actual fact, the only true character in the novel. The other characters exist, but they exist within Patsy’s very complicated mind. It is from this perspective that John J. Gaynard spins this tale of emotion, action, and vivid description. The tone is raw, irreverent, racy, provocative, and infrequently loving.
When I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, it was in exchange for an impartial review. At that time, I thought I was about to read an action packed thriller, with a psychological bent. That was not how it turned out! But the writer’s style caught my attention after only a couple of pages. Then the plotline caught my eye, and I was hooked.
Due to the use of offensive language, there were times when completion of the novel seemed out of reach. Throw in some graphic violence, and it is not my pick for summer afternoon reading. However, the author still held my attention. You see, each of the voices in Patsy Burke’s mind, made up an aspect of Patsy’s personality. The skill of the author is in holding the reader’s attention to see how all the voices fit together, and how the author can actually create quite a storyline, all from the voices in the lead character’s mind. Are you intrigued yet??
As a word of caution, I would suggest that the reader keep in mind that this is a work of fiction – even though at times it reads like history. I choose not to expand on that comment, as I try to avoid ‘spoilers’ in my book reviews.
One skill of Gaynard’s is the ability to remain neutral throughout this book. By that I mean, the reader is left guessing about Gaynard’s own history and personal beliefs. And I think in a book of this nature that is key to the plotline and readability of the book itself. Keep your mind open, and your wits sharp, and this book may be just what you are looking for!
Where is the Joy in the Written Word of this novel? While not a ‘joy-less’ story, the word ‘Joy’ does not come to my mind in this instance. If you have read, or do read, this novel, I invite you to leave me a comment on where you do, or do not see Joy. And in all humility, John Gaynard, if you read this post, I truly welcome your thoughts on “The Imitation of Patsy Burke” and on where you see the Joy of the Written Word.