How many Waterloos can you have?

Frank Cottrell Boyce turned out to be a nice man. I hadn’t expected him to be bad, you understand, but he was different from what I imagined. And anyone who can do what he did to Keira Knightley in his latest book Cosmic, will get my vote.

Frank came to the local bookshop to start off Independent Booksellers Week, and he only did so after the owner of the shop had braved the Stockport library dragons a couple of years ago, and crawled under tables in a most unladylike manner, just to come face to face with Frank.

Frank Cottrell Boyce 2

The man reads like a dream, and if he’s not already recorded his own books for audio, he should do so without delay. I could have sat all night listening to Cosmic, and I’d only just finished reading it myself.

Cosmic is a story about mobile phones, and Dads. I’m green with envy because Frank got to meet Alan Bean of Moon landing fame, and as you regulars know, the witch likes space. I didn’t think that a book about a twelve-year-old pretending to be the dad of his classmate and going into space, sounded all that funny, but I’ll eat my thoughts, because its’ very, very funny. And clever. And touching. And did you know there are lots of Waterloos, all over the place?

Frank has an extensive knowledge of things Nordic. He loves Tove Jansson, and he once spent a lot of time with Thor Heyerdahl. His writing career started with some discreet writing in his Year 6 classroom and being found out by the nuns. His teacher thought what he’d written was so funny, she had to read it to the class. His day job is writing film scripts, and the books only came after he needed a change from writing zombie slashers, and a friend pointed out that his next film idea would make a good book. It did.

After Frank won the Carnegie medal some years ago for Millions, his first book, he helped give a library to Waterloo in Sierra Leone, which seems fitting for the Carnegie. That Waterloo is twinned with Frank’s own Waterloo near Liverpool, and where Cosmic starts.

Cosmic was written while Frank sat in a French launderette for two years, hoping to eventually get to the driers first. Or some such thing. So the least you can do is read it and laugh. It will keep you going while you wait for his next film, which is going to be Terry Pratchett’s Truckers. I hope he can do something good with my favourite quote; Road Works.

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11 responses to “How many Waterloos can you have?

  1. There are a number of things and people that make me regret having left the Catholic Church and, more particularly, not bringing up my children Catholic. There’s the social activist Dorothy Day, the film ‘Au Revoir Les Enfants’, the Jesuits I spent a year working with on the other side of the world. And there is Frank Cottrell Boyce and his wonderful essay in the book ‘Why I am still a Catholic’. I do have one gripe with him though. My kids, having spent a wonderful day at the National Gallery finding all the pictures from Framed, now seem to think that we can somehow visit all the Waterloos that turn up in Cosmic. Time to pray for that Lottery win.

  2. Now fondazionedelbianco really is spam (but I’m not).

    Have you read ‘Moondust’ by Andrew Smith? Possibly the best book ever on the Moon landings, in terms of actually confronting the philosophy rather than the cold science.

    A ‘Truckers’ film? Can’t wait. Pratchett was never funnier than in the Nome books. Too many favourite bits to name. The benevolant goddess Bargains Galore. The monster Prices Slashed. And the man who moved upon the face of the Site, and saw that it had Potential.

    (For it was in the High Street.)

  3. i stood at the bookstore thinking, should i wait for the paperback? should i? should i? then i bought it. frank cottrell boyce is the reason we’re having pasta all week.

  4. pb – why not visit all the Waterloos? Take your time, and pray Frank doesn’t write another book.

    Nick – yes, as soon as I got back from MY Liverpool church I removed the spam. A witch has to go out sometimes.

    Candy – pasta is good.

    I’d say that Frank has a lot to answer to, as far as my readers’ personal finances are concerned.

  5. But FCB actually spent time with my childhood hero, Thor Heyerdahl (which, I discovered, sounds nothing at all like its spelling when pronounced by a real Scandinavian) in the flesh???! I might have to try to touch the hem of his garment.

  6. I wonder if FCB’s essay in Why I Am Still A Catholic is available online. Having searched in vain, I’d still like to read it. If he happens to see this comment, I wonder if he’d let us know of a possible source.

  7. Meg – he took his children along to see Heyerdahl, because the man was so nice and it was such a lovely place. So, lots of potential hems for touching.

    And the name does sound just like its spelling. You English speakers just have a very funny way of pronouncing things.

  8. Lee. Just in case Frank Cottrell Boyce isn’t reading this I thought I’d let you know that his essay ‘A Global Caravan Site’ appears in the book ‘Why I am Still A Catholic: Essays in Faith and Perseverance’ edited by Peter Stanford and published by Continuum in 2005. He’s one of fourteen contributors. Hope that helps.

  9. Pb, thanks, it is helpful, but English books of that sort are hard to come by here in Germany unless I buy it, which I’m not inclined to do – too many other pressing demands on my credit card!

  10. I have deleted a comment here. In this case I wouldn’t have minded someone trying to sell audio downloads, but I would want the “ad” to turn up after a post about audios,and I’d like it to be spelled correctly. And not to be too long.

  11. Pingback: From the Earth to the Moon « Bookwitch

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