Publisher: Longmarsh Press, Totnes, Devon
Review by Rachel Schofield
‘That’s an awful lot of stuff twisted up inside there, Tom’
(In The Day page 98)
Tom, the 49 year old central character of Totnes-published author Kevin Marman’s book, is a person who is struggling. Long-term unemployed for the first time ever, he has to ‘keep it in the day’, to keep busy, to stay meaningful, to live with the good awarenesses that are often there if one simply breathes into the moment.
For Tom this means ….
fighting an often ferocious daily battle against the pain and bleakness of his past and the sometimes empty-seeming present with its tensions and irritants, aware that the day itself might bring bad stuff, maybe sufficient to re-ignite a self-destructive blaze.
Tom copes well, in fact he copes outstandingly. We see him working out at the gym, working in a voluntary capacity as an adult education tutor in computer skills, going to his alcohol recovery support group and meeting with the close family members that are left in his life. Carly, Tom’s support worker, puts it well for a lot of us when she says
‘God gave us our relatives…so thank God we can choose our friends’ (page 100)
A fairly consistent picture emerges, although Tom cannot always see this for himself, of a kind, hardworking, sensitive, intelligent person with excellent coping strategies.
(But these are not always enough.)
Although In The Day can be emotionally uncomfortable, the author lifts us above doom and gloom by the sharpness of his writing. The narrative skill employed here to create a work where past and present, people and information on relevant issues, locality and universality are woven closely together is truly impressive. Often a sharp witted humour is present in the prose.
And we are always engaged with Tom, his first person story, his doings, his feelings.
In The Day is set in a seaside town. I live in seaside East Devon and I am struck by the book’s descriptive truths. The feeling of a community in November where the clock winds down until the following year. The elemental beauty of the waves and the greeness of the fields behind. The sense of solidity and also of shifting sands; the moods of weather tide and time.
Dealing as it often does with issues of self-harm, alcohol addiction, abuse and Borderline Personality Disorder (the author is particularly astute on how the moods of a person who has this condition can flicker and flash like lightening) this book would be excellent reading both for people with lived experiences akin to Tom’s and for medical and social care professionals. It could become invaluable as course material for students as it illustrates so clearly the necessity of seeing the human being over and above the diagnosis.
However, first and foremost, In The Day is a terrific book simply for people who like to read.
Purchase the Book
The book can best be bought direct from the publisher.
Send cheques for £8.99, plus post and packing of £2, to Bob Mann, Longmarsh Press, 5 Brook View, Follaton, Totnes TQ9 5FH.
Rachel’s other work
More of Rachel’s work is to be found on the online writing site Abctales.com under her writing name of Elsie Katz. She has 48 pieces of writing on this site, poems, short stories, biography, opinion pieces – a varied selection of mainly recent work.