Paperback: Going Under, By Ray French

Vintage £7.99
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The Independent Culture

A man goes into an undertakers and asks for a coffin. Aidan Walsh isn't dying, but since his wife died he hasn't exactly been living either, so on hearing that the electronics factory which is his place of work and the only major employer in the bleak Welsh town where he lives is set to close down, he decides to stage a symbolic protest, burying himself in his back garden and refusing to be disinterred until the workers' jobs are saved. He quickly becomes a local celebrity and reporters, supporters and Smiths fans flock to his garden. He stands figuratively speaking as a single-issue independent candidate in the local elections. By removing himself from his life, he is able to see what he's been missing and begin to re-connect with it.

Going Under is a comic-realist novel that, while not crafted particularly well, has noticeable heart and soul. And while its concerns are contemporary, it also has a pleasingly old-fashioned sensibility. With its narrative of the eccentric individual standing up figuratively speaking to corporate bureaucracy, it's the kind of story you could imagine coming from Ealing Studios.

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