CBR12Bingo – Book Club
From the David Bowie Book Club – http://www.bowiebookclub.com/episodes/2018/5/19/billy-liar-by-keith-waterhouse
One of the things that happens in so many of the “angry young man” books is that they’re desperately self-serious and ultimately unfunny. There’s a lot of self-loathing, not a lot of honest reflection, and plenty of feeling sorry for oneself. And while this book has all of that and more, it’s actually funny, which helps a lot. At first when I started reading this book, I thought it was a kind of ur-text of the adolescent teenage British boy book that gets replicated in David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green or lampooned in Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books. And the reason I thought that is that we begin with Billy diving into his fantasy kingdom that he’s created as a kind of escape from the world. But as he emerges from this opening dip, it becomes clear that he’s past school age and this fantasy, while potent and important, takes on a different feeling.
As the book moves on, we find Billy absolutely excoriating his parents and their boring life. He’s planning on leaving soon and is pretty sure because of some encouraging words that he’ll be able to work on a sketch comedy show on television. He and friends are always writing joking and skits, and they’ve sent some, and he thinks he only needs to show up at the studio to get hired. Obviously, this backfires and he finds himself trying to wriggle himself back into the funeral industry.
The book is loaded with funny moments and painful moments as Billy is trying to figure out, what, if any, future he has outside of his sad Yorkshire life.