#Blogtour The Closer I Get by Paul Burston @PaulBurston @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheCloserIGet

THE CLOSER I GET PB AW

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston  Orenda  July 11th 2019

Tom is a successful author, but for the first time in his life, he has writer ’s block. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her sick father and her social media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again, and to
concentrate on writing. But things are aren’t adding up. For Tom is also addicted to his
online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he’s powerless to change things, because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk on the other side of a screen…

My Review

It’s not often you read a book that is quite so raw, so full of emotion with a deep understanding of its themes. Paul Burston drew on his own true life experience as the victim of a female stalker to write a novel that was both mesmerising, intense and absolutely superb.

At the end of my review and in the about the author section I urge you to take five minutes to click on the link to The Guardian article Burston wrote about his experience. It will make you see just how fantastically he translates that pain and anguish into his characters and narrative.

Tom, once famous author, attempting to write that all elusive next bestseller was our victim, but not a victim in the simple sense. Yes, you felt sorry for him, but Burston injected an underlying uncertainty, one that made you question his role. Was he telling the whole truth, was he manipulating the situation for his own purposes? There was no doubting the trauma and after effects, which Burston wrote about with amazing clarity. It was a clarity that made you feel his fear, his paranoia, his inescapable dread that his stalker would reappear.

Outwardly Tom was charming, proud of who he was, gay, successful, but inwardly you could sense his insecurities, as the harassment extenuated his shortcomings, his selfishness.

His stalker, Evie, again outwardly normal, inwardly disturbed and obsessive. At first glance Burston drew a picture of a woman you didn’t like, who deserved everything that came her way. It wasn’t until Burston began to slowly reveal her upbringing, the lack of attention, the absence of a mother’s love, of being psychologically damaged that he made you doubt your preconceptions. Was she really that bad, or was she also a victim, a victim of circumstance, a lack of someone to notice her, to love her, to guide her?

For all her psychological failings I loved that Burston gave her an unrivalled intelligence, her actions, and her motives driven by her love of literature, of what she read, her brain sharp and quick. His understanding of her manipulation between reality and fantasy was outstanding and you had to admire Burston’s skilful narrative, the obvious thought he had put onto the pages, his ability to put himself in her shoes.

The same could be said of Tom, his words written as someone who has suffered and struggled, but overcome, unlike Tom who seemed almost certainly in denial of the after effects and trauma he was so clearly suffering.

The role of Tom’s friend Emma, was genius, she was Tom’s conscience, the one who sat on his shoulder, who tried to see both sides, the friend who was unceremoniously pushed aside, ignored and used.  She was integral to the novel, the voice of reason, of sanity, or was she!

For the most part, my feelings towards Tom were mixed and I think that was Burston’s intention. In an age of digital media, it was obvious that he wanted to provoke, to examine and raise awareness to what a dangerous era we now live in. It is an age where the words written on a screen can have a myriad of interpretations, can hurt in a way they have never done before and have a devastating impact. It seems anyone is fair game for that one person who just can’t help, for whatever reason, to take their actions that one step further.

The Closer I Get was a novel for our time and, if you pardon the cliche, a cautionary tale for all of us to sit up and really think about what we write, what we read and how we use social media. Burston’s deep understanding of his characters, his own personal experience will linger long in my mind, the subtle but brilliant twist at the end, the perfect end to the perfect novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Closer I Get to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Paul Burston Author Photo

Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Globa List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair ofThe Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.

Check out Paul Burston’s own personal experience in the article he wrote for The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/03/nightmares-flashbacks-and-constant-fear-how-a-stalker-brought-me-to-my-wits-end

 

closer I get blog poster 2019

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