On the Holloway Road: Andrew Blackman

Youth is the time when it is very easy to find dreams and passions, friends and loves. The eager energy of youth pushes you to explore yourself and the world around, and be fascinated with what you find. But just as easy it is to find dreams and fulfillments; it is also very easy to find disappointments. Andrew Blackman’s atmospheric novel ‘On the Holloway Road’ speaks of the anguish of being young, of finding friends and of losing them.

Jack Maertens, a writer in his twenties, is wading through the difficult times of creating his first literary novel. His days are monotonous and his writing seems to be going along the same lines. Then one day he meets Neil Blake a fitful young man, an antithesis of Jack. Neil is everything that Jack is not. He has had one too many brushes with crime, while Jack has always stuck to the right side of law. Neil is uncontrollable where Jack is restrained. Jack who had been living a sheltered life on the Holloway road is caught in the whirlwind of Neil’s personality. He does not understand Neil well but a deep curiosity pushes him into a fateful friendship with Neil. Jack and Neil embark on a road trip across Britain and on the way they find some truths about life, some of which are sweet and yet others which are fatal.

Andrew Blackman has a very fluid style of writing. The roads of Britain and Scotland come to life under his pen. The despondency of winter, the drudgery of old forgotten towns, the monotony of life comes across powerfully in his prose. The naïve outlook of the young writer Jack is expressed very well. The simultaneous simplification and complication that Jack engages in, while analyzing the world around him, is very interesting. Another fascinating aspect is the development of both the characters in the novel. Neil is idolized by Jack and everyone around him, while Jack speaks of himself in a less flattering manner. But as a reader we do not see Neil in the same shining light; we can see his weaknesses, and it is Jack who we really root for. This is a very finely developed aspect of the novel.

On the Holloway road is an atmospheric tale of the journeys undertaken by two young men in search of their dreams and of themselves. Blackman’s prose is very engaging and makes for an intriguing read. I recommend the novel for the vivid moods that Blackman creates in his novel. 

'On the Holloway Road' can be bought from Flipkart in India.

Book Source: Self

4 comments:

Andrew Blackman said...

Hi Nivedita
Thanks very much for the great review. I love the way you capture some key themes of the book, like the frustration of dreams, the disappointments of youth and the complex friendship between Jack and Neil. I also loved your point about the reader seeing Jack and Neil in a different way from how the characters in the book describe them. Really nice review!

Nivedita Barve said...

Andrew,
It was a pleasure to read your novel! Will be looking forward to the release of your next one.

Best Wishes!

Roger Appleby said...

I found Nivedita's review and Andrew's statements to be very thought provoking. I was particularly intrigued by the point of the reader seeing Jack and Neil differently than they describe themselves. I'm new to writing and have come to it from a almost totally unacademic background. Getting new perspectives on the craft/art is exciting to me.

Nivedita Barve said...

Hi Roger,
I am really glad you found the post interesting.
The perception that the writer would like to give to the reader is such a tricky thing to execute, isn't it?
Andrew has done this very nicely in his novel.
Thanks for appreciating the post!