When Frankie Hermans emerges from a coma after 200 days, he knows his life is never going to be the same again. For a start, he can’t talk, he can’t walk and it’s a struggle even to wield a pen. And then there’s Joe Speedboat?—?a boy who arrived in the sleepy village of Lomark like a blazing comet and who’s been stirring things up ever since. Whether setting off bombs, racing mopeds or building a bi-plane, Joe has the touch of a magician and the spirit of a daredevil. He also sees a use for Frankie’s good right arm beyond writing: as a champion arm-wrestler Frankie will be strong enough to impress his friends, and maybe even win the favour of the gorgeous, golden-haired girl who has them all in a spin. Full of vitality, verve and chutzpah, Joe Speedboat tells the fast-paced story of an unlikely friendship between two boys, and of their lightning dash towards adulthood.
‘[A] brilliant coming-of-age story with an outlandish twist … There are more coming-of-age novels than dikes in Holland, but this wonderfully weird novel is not one to miss.’
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‘The triumph and tragedy that pepper the story feel authentically random, though the familiar coming-of-age structure lends the book a directionless, episodic feel … Wieringa’s tale takes on the feel of a good road-trip novel perfectly suited to his cast of eccentrics. The setting of rural Holland is convincingly rendered, and the low-key freakishness (think Garp) keeps things at just the right degree of weird.’
‘[An] offbeat story of a group of boys searching for meaning … This work conjures John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany but with a lighter touch.’
‘Winsome … Wieringa’s protagonist, Frankie, has an attitude attune to Holden Caulfield, without the anxiety and the quirks … [Frankie’s] unwavering and confident … in-your-face voice … applies literature to life, lyrically, with an attention to minutiae … Charismatic, intelligent, he’s the kinetic energy that thrusts the narrative forward.’
Praise for Tommy Wieringa:
‘The best contemporary novels are a quest made out of literary and moral ambition. Those who have successfully pursued this Holy Grail in recent times are Bolaño with his The Savage Detectives, Sebald in Austerlitz, Coetzee with Disgrace and the late Philip Roth. From now on, to that august list must be added the name of Tommy Wieringa.’