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Word Monkey

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This is the memoir Christopher Fowler always wanted to write about 'writing'.

It's the story of how a young bookworm growing up in a house where there was nothing to read but knitting pamphlets and motorcycle manuals became a writer - a 'word monkey' - and pursued a sort of career in popular fiction. It's a book full of brilliant insights and sharp observations about the highs and lows and pitfalls and pleasures of his profession and about his favourite (and not-so-favourite) novelists. For would-be writers, Word Monkey is a treasure trove of sage advice on what to watch out for, to approach with caution or, indeed, to avoid at all costs.

But woven into this hugely entertaining, inspiring and politely opinionated account of a writer's life is an altogether darker thread. Because in Spring 2020, as the world went into lockdown, Chris was diagnosed with terminal cancer and his world was turned upside down. And yet Word Monkey is anything but a misery memoir. In prose as light as air, he recounts with candour, grace and typically self-deprecating humour what he came to realise would be the final chapter in his story. The result is a deeply moving, often very funny and surprisingly uplifting account of someone suddenly having to confront and come to terms with their own mortality.

What the critics say

Clever, wise, heartbreaking and yet also life-affirmingly funny: his literary comic lightness of touch is on a par with Wodehouse.

Author
Joanne Harris
Publication
Bestselling author of Broken Light and Chocolat

A delight to read - a glorious, witty and life-affirming ragbag of autobiography, cultural commentary and hard-won wisdom about the strange and miraculous craft of writing. It's the sort of book that makes you want to underline every other sentence. Beautifully written, of course - one would expect no less from Chris - and characterised by its complete lack of self-pity. I hope it sells by the truckload.

Author
Andrew Taylor
Publication
Bestselling author of The Shadows of London