Van has finished reading… Jott by Sam Thompson

9 Jul

jottMen are idiots.

Which is to say good grief, am I really like Arthur?

Okay, I’m not really like Arthur, not really really but it’s a mite unsettling when you find yourself (mentally) shouting at the book you’re reading and you suddenly realise (which is never suddenly at all but in fact a blossoming of the subconscious into the conscious, if you will a state of oblivion – of knowing but ignoring or denying that knowing) oh God, I do that. That’s what I do.

Sam Thompson’s Jott looks at the relationship – sometimes friendship, sometimes not – between two young men at the start of their careers. Louis is worldly and gregarious, a writer wrestling with a novel. Arthur is quiet and contained, a doctor branching into psychoanalysis.

 

Sam Thompson’s novel stems from his grandfather, Geoffrey Thompson, and his friendship with a man named Beckett. Geoffrey was a junior psychiatrist who allowed his writer friend Samuel (yes, that Beckett) to see life on the wards. You don’t have to know Beckett’s life or works to enjoy Sam Thompson’s Jott (I don’t and I did) but there may well be layers within that that level of knowledge unlocks.

For my money it’s a smart move to tell things from Arthur’s point of view. Right away it circumvents all that writers-writing-about-writers-writing-or-not-writing which surely only writers enjoy, and even then only when they’ve written it themselves. It also takes away the need to make Louis more or less Beckett-like, something that’s bound to divide opinion among those who know enough to judge, and either way would detract from the telling of the tale. Arthur is the fixed point, the mirror in which we see not only Arthur but also Louis, and then there’s the ever-present threat – or perhaps lure – of madness, of what it is to be understood and to understand.

 

Sam Thompson’s Jott is a quiet book – always a good thing – that might just get you looking inwards. It’s sharp and sometimes funny too, and in its own way deeply emotional. Maybe it’s a short straw draw as to who you’ll be rooting for but I guarantee you’ll be rooting for someone.

 

Jott was published by John Murrays on 14th June 2018 ISBN:9781473675056

I don’t know where Sam is on social media but if you do let me know and I’ll add it in

My particular thanks to Alice Herbert at Hodder for allowing me to review this book

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