This is a startling breakthough novel from Jonathan Buckley, acclaimed author of Ghost MacIndoe and So He Takes the Dog.
It will be up for every prize going: a gripping, utterly compelling book whose themes hit home and hard for the baby boom generation.
Dominic Pattison's life is one of level contentment: his marriage has proved happy and durable; his business, too, is successful.And then Sam Williams, a builder and ex-squaddie, enters his life.
Sam claims to be his son. Yet is Sam who he says he is? After almost thirty years, Dominic can remember little of the affair with Sam's mother.
His instinct is to recoil from this aggressive and volatile stranger, who could, with just a few words, take his life apart.
But Sam refuses to be dismissed. With its deft switches of sympathy between menaced 'father' and rebuffed 'son' and its exploration of the intricacies of memory, Contact will resonate long with its readers.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: Sort of Books
- Publication Date: 11/02/2010
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780956003867
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Review by PJE
Dominic Pattison is a successful, business-owning, fifty-something whose comfortable life is disrupted when he is approached by Sam, a builder and former soldier, who claims to be his son - allegedly the product of a long-forgotten affair Dominic had with a woman called Sarah thirty years ago. Foul-mouthed, unrefined and very un-middle-class, Sam becomes an ominous presence in Dominic's life. But is Sam's air of menace merely a product of our narrator's middle class dislike of the uncouth? Is his behaviour really threatening, or is he acting in a perfectly reasonable manner? Is he what he says he is, or is it a scam? And what does what we think, and why, tell us about ourselves? This is a fraught, compelling and unsettling novel. It challenges attitudes yet is as much of a page turner as a Robert Goddard thriller and as unsettling as Ian McEwan used to be. Indeed, the shades of Enduring Love are so strong that when at one point, while Sam is driving him to Sarah's grave, Dominic 'is distracted by the sight of an ascending hot air balloon', I couldn't help feeling I was being toyed with by the author in much the same way that Sam seems to toy with Dominic. A weak man desperately trying to keep the barbarian at the gate, is Dominic right to be cautious, or is he just prejudiced? And what is the contact of the title? Physical violence? The military engagements experienced by Sam in Northern Ireland and Iraq? Meetings between an estranged father and son? Or an unwelcome collision between the contented middle class and the uncouth working class they disdain - and fear? There is plenty for readers to think about (and discussion groups to get their teeth into) here. This is contemporary fiction at its best.