I am sometimes really rubbish at reading books that people tell me to, or in the case of ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ by Nick Alexander a book which a friend (the lovely Dom who shares a slight Mitford obsession with me) thrust their copy of it in my direction after going on and on about how wonderful it was and I didn’t read and had to give it back when I moved. I hadn’t thought about the book since if I am honest, oops. Yet when I was stuck in my slight reading funk, which I think I glossed over, I saw a copy in the library and thought ‘ooh why not’ and so took it home… and really enjoyed it.
I would describe ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ as a series of snippets of peoples lives, basically very, very short stories like snapshots. All these characters interlink and yet they have no idea that they do, and sometimes you as the reader have to wait a little while for the connection to make sense. That’s not a criticism as actually I rather liked feeling clever when I joined the dots and started to reveal the fuller picture. There are some characters who return as these stories progress and in the main we follow Alice who as we meet her has moved to The Big Apple looking for a change, and a fresh start yet on the day we meet her she makes her first new possible friend and looses one of the dearest people to her. It’s the butterfly effect of these two incidents, actually sparked by one in China in the opening story ‘OK Sticker’, which we follow.
I am aware that probably doesn’t sell the book well enough but because every story is such a snap shot it would be hard for me to write too much in detail. I can say that we go to Germany, England, America, China, from the busiest cities to the wilderness of the outback, from chance meetings in Apple stores (Alexander’s description of the Apple store had me in hysterics, its very, very true to life) and gay sex bars and the perfect home life’s to the lonely existence of a bed-sit. In many ways you could say that not only does ’13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ covers life in the modern world. I am aware that sounds grand but these people are from all walks of life, all ages and sexualities, some poor some verging on celebrity, and at pivotal points in their lives both good and bad.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ and read it rather greedily in one sitting. I wanted to know where the ripples of events and actions would lead me next and Alexander does very cleverly, and not in a clichéd way, make the whole collage of these lives and characters come full circle. I laughed, was rather shocked (sometimes if you peak into the private lives of people you need to remember you might learn or see more than you bargained for) and also incredibly moved in parts, in fact very like the characters created by Alexander in this book I went through the emotional spectrum and couldn’t put it down.
I am not sure I would have picked this book up without the recommendation (and eventual and rather tardy follow up of said recommendation) from my good friend, Dom so to him I owe huge thanks. What was the last book you were recommended by a friend you didn’t think would be your cup of tea and most certainly was? Has anyone read any of Nick Alexander’s other novels?
P.S I have used the Kindle edition cover of the book as its rather less garish, I didn’t read this on a Kindle.