Russell, Willy The Wrong Boy

ISBN 13: 9780007113613

The Wrong Boy

4.17 avg rating
( 1,055 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780007113613: The Wrong Boy

The extraordinary first novel from the internationally acclaimed playwright.

Raymond Marks is a normal boy, from a normal family, in a normal northern town. His Dad left home after falling in love with a five-string banjo; his fun-hating Gran believes she should have married Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘I could never read his books, but y’could tell from his picture, there was nothing frivolous about Jean-Paul Sartre.’ Felonious Uncle Jason and Appalling Aunty Paula are lusting after the satellite dish; frogs are flattened on Failsworth Boulevard; and Sickening Sonia’s being sick in the majestic cathedral of words. Raymond Marks is a normal boy, from a normal family, in a normal northern town. Until, on the banks of the Rochdale Canal, the flytrapping craze begins and, for Raymond and his Mam, nothing is ever quite so normal again.

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Review:

The Wrong Boy is the debut novel of Liverpudlian playwright Willy Russell, famed for his plays-turned-films Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine, and the West End musical stalwart Blood Brothers. Both Rita and Valentine were star-making roles and if (and when) The Wrong Boy makes it to the screen, the main character Raymond is likely to have the same effect on one lucky young actor.

Teenager Raymond Marks has not had a charmed life. His profligate, instrument-loving father made an early exit, leaving him with a struggling mother and doting Sartre-fan grandmother. Fifteen minutes of potential glory when he saved a boy from drowning are cruelly compromised when it's discovered that the boys were near the canal indulging in what they called "flytrapping", and Raymond becomes "the precocious pervert, the evil influence, the filthy little beast". Eventually packed off to "Gulag Grimsby" at the suggestion of his despised Uncle Jason, Raymond pours out his life's woes in a series of missives to his idol, one-time Smiths' star Morrissey.

Writing his letters with improbable speed, Raymond is ingratiating, unstoppable and superbly miserable, as befits a Morrissey devotee--and lucky enough to be surrounded by a bevy of gift-wrapped Northern character parts. Russell's genius is to take situations and characters that are firmly placed in the banally familiar--and then push them to their comic limits. In The Wrong Boy those limits are tested to the full. --Alan Stewart

Review:

‘Willy Russell doesn’t read – he performs. With his Rochdale accent, flattened adolescent intonation, his whispering, jibbering and shouting, he fills the listener’s head – and creates Raymond, the real boy. It’s a remarkble performance and should be compulsory listening for those hot on tackling crime without trying to understand the causes of crime’. Rachel Redford, The Observer.

‘His own dramatic reading is hypnotically compelling. I found scenes from the story still whirling round my head days after I had finished listening to it.’ Christina Hardyment, The Independent.

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