Memoirs Of A Dipper By Nell Leyshon – A Review

Publisher: Penguin

This book was a pure impulse purchase based on the cover and the general premise. It’s not a huge book and the chapters are short so it flys along at a pace.

So what’s it all abaht gavnah? (My best cockney accent for you there) well, our narrator (first person narrative) is Gary. We meet him as an adult and he’s determined to tell the reader his story. He takes us from his deprived, neglected childhood on a London housing estate. Living with his alcoholic mother, his brother Alan, who is determined to better himself and his little sister Sharon. His father is a ‘sometimes’ father. Occasionally cropping up at various points in Gary’s life. Most noteably during his childhood, where one night he takes Gary on a ‘job’ with him to a factory and introduces Gary to a life of crime and ill gotten gains.

Gary becomes involved with various ‘tutors’ over the years, being shown a criminal underworld that he has a surprising gift for. He knows all the so called tricks of the trade (which are fascinating), all the little distractions, ruses and schemes.

‘I lift the wallet to my nose. The leather smells of animal and for a second I imagine it coming back to life, unfurling, shedding stitches, lifting its head to the air’…..

Gary feels things deeply and almost seems to have a sixth sense which enables him to get out of a scrape or two. The way he tells a story is at times quite poetic, philosophical and full of honesty.

The entrance to the tube looks like a mouth and I go into the throat. Jump barriers. Run and get on a train as the doors close. It’s rush hour. Push hour. Push and bloody shove you out the way hour’….

Gary’s is a tumultuous life, with episodes in prison, struggles with addiction, homelessness and loneliness. There are times in his life when Gary is flying high, feeling untouchable, but these times are short lived.

As disturbing and hard hitting as this book is there is real heart and honesty in it. There is a gentle humour and the style of writing is highly readable. I’m not always a fan of stories told in the first person, usually when an accent is included as I find it difficult to read large chunks in someone else’s voice and find I need a short break. With this story, with its short chapters it was easy to digest and take small breathers without losing the pace.

I really enjoyed this book and can thoroughly recommend it. Gritty, raw and eye opening. Grab yourself a copy.

See you soon.

Bookish Chat. Xxx

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