Wastrel's Reviews > Billy Liar

Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
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's review
Jan 09, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: r-un, mundane-fiction, z-2006
Recommended for: Anyone wanting a better, more readable, funnier, Catcher in the Rye - in Yorkshire
Read in May, 2011 — I own a copy

Not recommended for: not sure, there must be somebody out there who wouldn't like it.

A Yorkshire "Catcher in the Rye", only funny. Billy Fisher is a 19-year-old boy trapped in a small town in Yorkshire, desparate to escape to London. His life is divided between fantasy and anxiety (about his family, about his love life (including his multiple fiancées) and about his job (and whether or not his employers will find out about certain... misdemeanors...)), the latter largely self-inflicted as a result of his tendency to lie continuously and blatently. Billy feels as though he is drowning in the inauthentic cliché and rote behaviour that surrounds him, but struggles to find any response to it all beyond sterile absurdism.

Billy Liar marries the Angry Young Men agenda with a flippant, ironic, stiff-upper-lip aesthetic reminiscent of (a bitter) Wodehouse and Jerome - but at the same time manages to retain humanity and warmth.

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