Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Off Key by Mark Robertson

Paperback: 316 pages.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Matador 2014
Source: The author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentences: She looked around the bedroom. Everything was ready. Her good navy suit, still in the cleaner's cover, hung on the wardrobe.

My Opinion: Curiosity led me to read this début novel as despite being a genre I read it was unlikely to have caught my attention. A contemporary story about realistically portrayed people that just love making music so much that despite economic hardship, they struggle on regardless as though they are addicted. Strain on relationships is inevitable and the authors portrayal had me laughing, crying, empathising and getting angry with the characters. Feeling involved is for me a sign of a good read so I can recommend this to anyone that wants a light contemporary read.

Précis: Courtesy of Goodreads :

Charlotte has supported Kyle's precarious musical career for three years. Now it's her turn. When Kyle doesn't want to play the breadwinner, she looks to a future on the other side of the Atlantic. Saxophonist Kyle has no money, no career and has now lost the love of his live. Can an autistic twelve-year-old boy and an alcoholic 'has been' be his salvation?

Author Profile:

Mark Robertson was born in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear in 1962 taking up the drums at fourteen. He has toured the UK and Europe working with some of the countries finest jazz and rock musicians (also with a few of the worst). His music career has included work for television, the theatre and a larger than average portion of 'strange', including a residency in a hostess bar/brothel in Mayfair, playing the 'ostrich mating dance' for Bernie Clifton in South Shields and performing at the World Unicycle Convention (on drums not unicycle).
After graduating he co-wrote a television play "In Bed With Jimmy Monty" directed by Bharat Nalluri (Spooks, Life On Mars, Alien vs. Predator). It won the New Voices prize that year and was shown on ITV.
In 1994 Mark Robertson had his closest brush with fame when he 'became' the first drummer for legendary 'Girls Aloud' singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole. At the time Cheryl was eight years old and performing in The Whitley Bay Am-Dram Panto. Twelve years on Ms Cole had released a greatest hits album and was well on the way to amassing a multi-million pound fortune, pausing only to perform at venues like Wembley Stadium. Mark Robertson was still in the north-east, playing jazz gigs for food and/or petrol money. Stumbling on a set of cheap biros and some paper, he started a novel. It's a story about people who would struggle to find the entrance money to Wembley Stadium but they won't let a simple problem like being penniless stop them achieving their goal.

In 2002 he co-wrote a musical which had two professional runs at The Customs House, South Shields and The Gala Theatre, Durham. Off-Key is his first novel. He still lives in the North-East where he writes furious letters to 'The Independent' and dances a lot. 

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile      Amazon - Author Profile    Mark Robertson - Official Website

1 comment:

  1. Declaration: I helped Mark get this novel ready for publication. He is a fine friend and of a charitable disposition. mostly. I have lost friends because I place much on being truthful about creative work.

    'Off Key' is a good read. I should know. I must have read it about four or five times as this demanding task master made me correct my presentation to do justice to his fine prose ... Give it a go if you like layered stories about people who just might be the kind you could meet in a bar or club. You won't regret it.


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