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A Pocket Full of Days by Mike Cavanagh

February 7, 2019

 

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I’ve just finished reading this first part of what I hope will be a two or maybe even three part memoir. I was lucky enough to win it in a draw so I will admit I had no idea what to expect. Unlike other reviewers, I hadn’t read the author’s first book, so this one was a real upside downer for me. I found it quite riveting, but also shocking, funny, nostalgic, poignant and everything else that arouses emotions when I’m reading. It was also something of a rollercoaster ride.

I have to say it is not a happy story, but conversely, I have the feeling Mike Cavanagh is essentially a cheerful soul who is inclined to be happy rather than miserable. A contradiction in many ways. The blurb explains that he has written his memoirs since discovering he has Asperges Syndrome and that these books are his way of making sense of how he felt he was different as a child and young man in 60s and 70s Australia.

I know little about Asperges, but his behaviour seemed quite normal to me. Being of a similar age, I remember full well what the 70s were like and having lived the hippie life too, I didn’t find anything unusual about his introspection or actions. It seems to me that’s how we all were then, especially when influenced by ‘recreational’ substances. The fact that he stood by Jo, his girlfriend, for so long while she tragically self destructed suggests an empathy beyond the call of friendship or love so I couldn’t quite see what his communication problems were other than might be expected in the situation. In fact, hats off to Mike for his support and love in the face of such a challenge. But perhaps I’m missing something simply because I don’t know enough about Asperges.

Altogether, however, this was a riveting, evocative, and visual read. It could have been a film and maybe one day it will be. It deserves to be. Mike Cavanagh has a gift for description, especially of emotional conundrums, and his writing is often quite lyrical and very beautiful. That said, his exploration of his emotional and psychological responses to the situations in which he finds himself is surprisingly conversational and he draws the reader in as if he is chatting to them about his issues.

All in all, I found this a deeply moving book with some powerful imagery and I shall look forward to reading the next one.

The link to the book is here

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6 Comments
  1. That’s an absolutely stunning review Val x

    • Thank you, Caryl. In many ways, it is a stunning book. I think it will stay with me for a long time.

  2. Julie Watson permalink

    A great review Val. I enjoyed Mike’s book as well as it took me on a roller coaster of emotion. Laughter and tragedy and so honestly written. An insight into a soft and committed heart who sees the best in others.

    • Thank you, Julie! It’s a book that hauls you out of any complacency. Mike comes across as very lovable throughout. His candour and self deprecation are really endearing.

  3. Rebecca permalink

    What a super review Val. I have to say I found this a very powerful and moving story too.

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