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The Crack Magazine

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Brian by Jeremy Cooper

One would often see nerds, geeks, or in modern parlance, NPCs (non-playable characters), train-spotting or lurking around the transport or local history sections of a Waterstones. Maybe very occasionally see them on an early evening television programme fending off faux serious questions posed by a smirking presenter - in the years when male nerds were allowed to be on screen before Year Zero when, if you weren’t making yourself over and ‘getting a life’, you weren’t playing the game and therefore not worthy of media interest. In Jeremy Cooper’s novel about one such man, Brian is often found hanging around the BFI - watching films, having a cuppa in one of the cafes on London’s South Bank or sometimes a lasagne at his favourite Italian. The kind of traumatised man other men, if they ever think about it, fear turning into, and maybe even fear reading about. That Jeremy Cooper makes Brian’s life a compelling read is nothing short of magical. One is consistently intrigued even when not much happens, and though one couldn’t quite say it’s affection you feel for Brian it’s certainly something warm, fuzzy and protective. Through the love of film (and the medium of cinema) he finds his niche and eventually a pod of friends, possibly similarly dented by life who take their quiet pleasures where they can, the past and the world kept at bay. A remarkable and unlikely book. I think I’ve just found my new favourite writer.

Brian – Jeremy Cooper - publ. by Fitzcarraldo Editions - £12.99

Steven Long