The strange tale of the book that never ex­isted

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Books - by Gemma McLaugh­lin

All My Col­ors by David Quantick Ti­tan Books

This week’s book was picked out, at first, al­most solely on ap­pear­ance.

As I am very much the kind of per­son to judge a book (just a lit­tle bit) by its cover. I al­ways look for books with cover art, fonts and vi­su­als that in­ter­est or stir emo­tions for me. The im­agery on this cover - of the girl with her eyes crossed out by im­per­fect, black stars as shock­ing beams of colour curl around her – made me feel, in­stantly lost into which­ever world David Quantick de­sired to take me to. Al­though one should not judge a book en­tirely on its cover, the power a beau­ti­ful book can hold over your mind should be un­der­es­ti­mated.

Af­ter read­ing the blurb and de­cid­ing that un­der no cir­cum­stances would I not be in pos­ses­sion of this story by the end of the hour, I be­gan to read. We learn a lot about the book’s main char­ac­ter, Todd Milstead, and the way in which he lives his life. Todd is a cur­rently un­pub­lished au­thor who spends his nights dis­cussing lit­er­a­ture with his not quite as dif­fi­cult friends un­til they all, in­clud­ing his wife, grow tired of his ego­tis­ti­cal ten­den­cies and cruel re­marks about his friends’ lives and abil­i­ties.

For all his non­sense there seem to be only two dif­fer­ences be­tween Todd and his friends: Todd has an in­cred­i­ble me­mory, and is un­rea­son­ably rude about how many fa­mous books he knows off by heart. But then he be­gins to quote from a book that never ex­isted and no-one, not even Todd, knows where it comes from. He couldn’t have made it up, could he?

I am com­pletely in love with David Quantick’s writ­ing style and have de­cided that though I would read a sim­i­lar plot in any form by any writer, truly the best way to read it is in the de­light­fully funny words of David Quantick. Of course there are many ways in which this book could have not been funny, and yet, even with a rea­son­ably se­ri­ous plot there was a fan­tas­tic spark of hu­mour in ev­ery word as we were al­lowed to watch from the side­lines and find our all the ways Todd Milstead’s life could fall apart be­cause of a book found, not in his study, but within his own mind.

I loved ev­ery part of this novel, the story which I read and of course the story which Todd Milstead dis­cov­ered. It’s mar­vel­lously orig­i­nal yet clas­sic. The ideas ex­pressed and the way that this book was writ­ten have been miss­ing in mod­ern lit­er­a­ture for an un­rea­son­able pe­riod of time. David Quantick should be and will be, the one to fill that gap.

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