It’s hard to know where to begin with saying how much I enjoyed this book. It did that wonderful thing that some books seem to manage with a sort of effortless grace: it spoke to me. It got under my skin. It made me think.
In short I cannot recommend Being Human enough. Fans of Nick Hornby in particular will enjoy. There is the same dry flavour, though the voice is entirely original.
The narrator of our story is one Eric Cooper, a normal guy who’s ended up in a hum-drum and ‘normal’ sort of existence. He’s a bit of a coaster, muddling along from day to day, not out of any in-born inclination towards laziness and not even, arguably, from apathy. More he looks at the world around him with an almost un-impenetrable malaise. He sees the hypocrisy, the commerciality, the cynicism and the pain around him and wants nothing to do with it, thank you very much.
And then he gets lung cancer.
Eric suddenly finds himself having to look on himself, the world and those around him from an entirely different angle, or the same angle dialled up to eleven.
I moved with him through his struggle toward trying to understand what it is to be human with your time running out. He is made to examine everything he is: weakness, strength, potential and the implications of the choices he’s made.
All whilst wondering whether it’s too late to do anything about any of it.
It is dry and witty, the voice is wonderfully strong and even at the darkest or daftest moment of his journey, there is no point where I couldn’t understand exactly why Eric thinks as he does. The characters around him also, ranging from heart-warming to head-banging-on-desk irritating to wanting-to-slap-them unpleasant, all have truth and humanity and no matter how I felt about what they did or said, I couldn’t one hundred percent say I didn’t understand or see myself doing the same thing in that position.
It may sound trite but I did laugh and I did cry and I don’t think Being Human will ever leave me.
(I would also recommend checking out the short fiction showcased on the site)
I only wish I could read it for the first time again.