The Fat Plan, By Glen Neath

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The Independent Culture

Characters in novels often enter strange worlds by way of an invitation. It speaks volumes for Glen Neath's second novel that his unambitious, overweight narrator finds his invitation written on a piece of card attached to a lamppost: "Want to earn your ideal wage every week, but don't want to work from home?" As embarkation points go, it's hardly Alice's rabbit hole.

Once hired, the narrator is driven to a house on the outskirts of a mysterious dormitory town, where he transcribes tapes of conversations between an unnamed man and woman. A person of little imagination, he calls the characters on the tapes "Jack" and "Jill", and starts to fantasise a future with his moody fellow employee Mona in which "neither of us had to be the kind of people we were".

Drawn forward by a Beckett-ish turn of phrase, readers may find a certain amount to admire here – if nothing else, the work of a writer determined to go his own way. A book which so steadfastedly refuses to sparkle is, however, very hard to enjoy.