Reviews > Published on March 24th, 2015

Bookshots: ‘The Lost Boys Symphony’ by Mark Andrew Ferguson

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title:

The Lost Boys Symphony

Who wrote it?

This is the first novel of book marketer and writer Mark Andrew Ferguson, who cut his teeth working for Harper Collins, marketing books by the likes of Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Chabon.

Hell, if you could time travel, wouldn’t you want to go back and fix things?

Plot in a Box:

Three school friends develop a close relationship which breaks down when Henry’s mental illness removes him from their lives — in more ways than one. In their sadness and confusion, his best friend and girlfriend start a new relationship and almost forget him. Henry, meanwhile, has been kidnapped by two men who claim to be older versions of himself — and that he can fix the past and get his girlfriend back.

Invent a new title for this book:

I would call it: How to Fix Your Present by Tinkering With the Past

Read this if you liked:

Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy or Audrey Niffenegger’sThe Time Traveler’s Wife.

Meet the book’s lead:

Henry is a musician, or rather a percussionist, who’s been musical since he was a small child, and has known his best friend Gabe since they were kids; they even decide to go to the same university with Henry’s girlfriend Val.

After Val breaks up with him, Henry’s music slowly takes over his life — not just the playing, but he continuously hears a melody that threatens to drown out everything. The inevitable psychotic break comes when he sees himself in the practice room he always uses, or someone that looks very much like him…

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

Joaquin Phoenix, with his ability to play just about any age.

Setting: would you want to live there?

A lot of the story takes place in particularly squalid student apartments, so probably not.

What was your favorite sentence?

Though it was technically a tobacconist, most people in New Brunswick thought of the Dragon as a head shop — a store that sold glass pipes to potheads or worse. To the cops and lawyers who worked downtown, the Dragon was a decent if eccentric cigar shop. They came in to buy Dominican Cohibas and rag on Gabe when they wanted a laugh. It made him feel like a zoo animal: North American bearded pothead.

The Verdict:

Henry’s obsessive nature is one of the main threads of this book, with two joint obsessions taking over completely: creating the perfect piece of music and getting Val back. These obsession are compounded when he’s picked up by two men claiming to be his future selves who think he can fix the problems in his relationship with Val and restore their problematical pasts. The book's take on mental illness and the coping mechanisms used by sufferers is interesting, including the ability to time travel at certain points in their joint life. Add in a perfectly formed love triangle and it just hums along.

I’m not sure it’s what Ferguson intended, but I was rooting for Gabe and Val to get together almost from the beginning, regardless of their ties to Henry. That said, I could understand Henry’s single-mindedness. And hell, if you could time travel, wouldn’t you want to go back and fix things?

I think Ferguson does a great job of evoking times and places throughout the book, and the pace of the book is about right — although I spent a lot of time wondering where the hell it was going! The conundrums of time travel and how it interferes with the past are here, but they don’t get in the way of the plot. I did feel that the ending wrapped things up a bit quickly for my liking, almost like Ferguson thought, ‘okay, that’s it — all done’; I could have done with a bit more. Still, a good read and worth a look.

About the author

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for 21 years now. On reaching London, he worked as a graphic designer and web consultant before starting a pub review website in the late 90’s.

His current book series, The Jaared Sen Quartet is set in near-future London, but also encompasses historical elements, reflecting his fascination with missing artifacts and conspiracy theories.

Dean left pub reviews behind in 2011 to concentrate on his writing and to set up a new company offering publishing services to authors, poets and artists as well as blogging and writing book reviews on his website at www.deanfetzer.com. He lives in east London with his wife and two cats and dreams (often) of a house in France.

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