That Summer Feeling
“I like books that ramble on, that are like someone talking to you or you’re hearing thoughts. When I meet someone or just see them around I always think: what are you like? What’s happened to you?” That’s the 20-something hero of Mark Hodkinson’s latest explaining to the tutor of his creative writing course what sort of books he likes. It would be a fitting description for this 2004-set novel, although any rambling on is done in the most amiable way. It’s a book that looks at working class lives and it’s possible to trace a line from the kitchen-sink novels of the late 50s/early 60s through to ‘That Summer Feeling’. Indeed, the book’s protagonist shares many of the same traits as Keith Waterhouse’s most engaging creation, Billy Liar. Both are sharply intelligent, see themselves forging careers as writers, and are trying their best to juggle two girlfriends. It lacks narrative drive, but it does give us the chance to eavesdrop on a young man’s thoughts and learn something of what he’s all about.