Book Jacket

 

rank 227
word count 93469
date submitted 17.08.2010
date updated 17.04.2014
genres: Fiction, Romance, Popular Culture, ...
classification: moderate
complete

Thinking Like a Wildebeest

Stephen Racket

A tale of revenge, booze, gambling, sex and a man obsessed with Deirdre Barlow.

 

Matthew Fish is in a rut.

His Jersey home is no longer the paradise of his youth.

Deirdre Barlow isn't interested, vengeful ex-girlfriends lurk around every corner, and work is a constant battle against office bully Mary.

The weight is piling on, he drinks too much, and his blood pressure is going through the roof.

When he thinks things can't possibly get any worse, he tells a beautiful woman a little white lie, setting off a chain of events leading to a nightmare week on safari in Africa.

Joseph Mawinga is not in a rut.

He loves his Mozambique home, which he shares with his mother.

Then he discovers something startling about his past, and travels to Jersey to investigate.

A fish out of water, he finds the island as challenging as Matt finds Africa.

Please note.
Chapters 45 and 46 are alternate versions of chapters 1 and 5. Any feedback on preferences would be greatly appreciated.

 
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tags

adventure, africa, comedy, film, football, jersey, music, romance, television, travelling, wildlife

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271 comments

 

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Zoe Morgan wrote 78 days ago

Your opener is as engaging as your title :-)

Mellish wrote 105 days ago

Chap1

Very amusing lines in the opening - and an interesting character - though I guess we don't get to know him that well as he's plastered. Maybe a few lines of dialogue could give a feel for his character. I would say though that as amusing as it is, the ending doesn't propel the Reader onto the next chapter or into the story. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, but something to intrigue the reader might be valuable as a hook.

quibs----

'he would never understand why she had dumped him all those years ago'. I reckon delete it. It's unnecessary and slightly maudlin for such a comic start.

Eliza Moon wrote 140 days ago

Thinking Like a Wildebeest.

This has got to be one of the most distinctive titles around on Authonomy, and I like it.

I also liked the simplicity of the first chapters title: 'Naked.' Neat.

A great line about the gift being supressed for thirty-two years and being released like a genie out of a bottle. Also, how time is measured in pints of lager.

Ha ha ha, 'Long hair had become necessary to disguise a growing resemblance to Barry from EastEnders.'

Do local Astronomy Clubs have radical factions? I went to my local Club's open night once, and they were all VERY serious:-/ Ah, I see, these factions are kept secret 'for fear of ridicule'

The dreadful accident on the first date was good, with the death of poor Prince Charles.

I am not sure how well your mc is going to get on with Africa, he seems to be very troubled by beasties!

A very intriguing hook at the end of chapter 2, with a young man waking up in Mozambique having also had a night of heavy drinking. It will be interesting to see how these parallels come together. x

PMBMelbourne wrote 207 days ago

Thinking Like a Wildebeest
Being an African at heart, I must admit it was the mention of Wildebeest in your title that first caught my eye. After that - it was your story - wonderful opening - anyone would want to know if his 'gift' was real and the bet paid off. Too funny.

neilmacvicar wrote 241 days ago

Enjoying this immensely so far.Have read both versions of chapter one.Prefer the second.It feels sharper and oc course it's got the Deirdre Dream That's good fun.Will keep reading,Neil MacVicar, author AMAZZOFF

leeconnor wrote 261 days ago

Hi Stephen,

I'm glad I stumbled upon this when looking for some 'comedy' genre books to read. Matt is such a likeable guy (despite his flaws) and I loved the 'otter' moment - we've all had one like that!

Lee :-)
The Diva and the Devil

Chris 1 wrote 262 days ago

Read the first three chapters - this is VERY funny - what a fantastic geek Matt is. Finely observed specimen of a hopeless saddo we all don't want to be, please God.

Some marvelous lines - he grew his hair long to stop hmself looking like Barry from Eastenders; unintentionally flashing himself to the local Neighbourhood Watch woman; the Nolans blaring out at the traffic lights; Elvis at the foot of his bed, this guy is a marvelous comic character and with his (alter ego?) waking up with a hangover in Africa, it promises to get a lot madder. BACKED

mapleyther wrote 278 days ago

Wow - this is something of a tour de force and an achievement to keep the tempo up on a book of this length. Great characters, strong opening and interesting plot, not to mention an engaging writing style. 5 stars!

M.P. Jones - Mason Wilson & The Dead Bird Debacle

JJ Kay wrote 315 days ago

I like your direct style and wit. Extremely entertaining and fast paced. It's not often I find a book that makes me laugh and this one has so I'm going to carry on reading it.

karelkoninkrijk wrote 351 days ago

brilliant entree chapter 1

Andrew Foley Jones wrote 357 days ago

surreal brilliance...

Eddexx wrote 381 days ago

Hello Stephen,
There is no point in running over the storyline - it is crazx and surreal and everything you no doubt hoped it would be when you wrote it! Brilliant. I love the natural, careless dialogue and clever use of adjectives used sparingly but effectively to squeeze every drop of humour from the comedy orange, so to speak. You write without any self-conscious restraint which allowed me to be swept long with the story, rather than getting bogged down in 'words'.and I deft anyone not be find a smile developing on their face as they read this.
Many congrats, well done. I have tried in my novel 'Sucker Punch' to allow myself this natural comic freedom but as it is my first novel I have no idea if it can match your superb work.
Well done again. Ed Marriott

MC Storm wrote 390 days ago

Hi Stephen:
I had the pleasure of reading and commenting on this story a year ago. I have noticed since, some of the changes, all for the better. This book is pure entertainment. Your humor comes out ten-folds.
Well done and will be back for more!
MC
Exposed

30sMG wrote 398 days ago

Hi
What a funny story. I started dotting down a few bits and pieces as I read to quote, but there were just too many of them. I loved it. Like chick lit but it's a boy.
You might want to have another look at chapter 2 where Matt says he's going to take Anna on a walk 'through one of Jersey's beautiful valleys' as it sounds like a quote from a travel agency, a quote from outside the story.
Interesting introduction to Joseph. At first I thought there had been a problem with the editing, and that there should be more of him at the end of chapter 2 but then he showed up in another couple of paras later on. Very different way of doing it, almost like a blipvert ad, you know, you blink once and you miss it.
I'll be back to finish reading the story at the weekend and in the meantime I'll back it 'because it's worth it'.
Thanks
Marie

Michelle Richardson wrote 420 days ago

Well Stephen I must confess I popped online with the intention of checking my messages and reading one chapter from anything that caught my eye-What actually happened was I started your book and read three chapters! Really like your writing style and the humour was very clever. It reminded me of Mike Gayle and I always enjoy his books.

Good job and will most definatley read more. Will back it in next day or so when I switch my books on my shelf.

Highly starred
Michelle - 43 Primrose Avenue

hexagirl wrote 433 days ago

Deidre Barlow… Mozambique… hm… backed!

Alice Kahrmann wrote 439 days ago

Really liked this - was drawn to the title and pleasantly surprised to find myself actually gripped by what was happening. It's incredibly easy to read and you really want to carry on - which is a feat in itself. Have backed - good luck! A

Kevin Sand wrote 442 days ago

A man obsessed with Deirdre Barlow, fantastic. The first few chapters are as funny as that fact, which is a feat in itself. Very good. Good luck.

Dollybottom wrote 442 days ago

Saw the name wildebeest (English, but lived in SA for many decades and only came back last year or so) but haven't read it yet, since off on a mission today to The outer hebrides of the UK (Derby) but shall definitely drop in later and see what you have to say (accurate or not ha ha) Can't wait--have a look at my profile and see. Best of luck, your book is doing well, only put mine on a few weeks ago and its getting very good comments--also humour. What is your link with SA? I have a sneaky feeling you lived there. Please let me know---maybe we could start up a thread, which I haven't tried yet.
Kind regards Janey (Walking on Marshmallows)

Celine Zabel wrote 450 days ago

Stephen,

Incredible! Love your perfectly timed humor, your style, your fast pace, your descriptive manner. I burst out laughing at the description of your 15 emails, your fondling of stinging nettles, headlong incident with eyes closed scattering the geese. Great, great stuff. Top notch.

I don't read other people's comments, before I write my own, so pardon me if I'm duplicative... But a couple of things I found confusing...one if Matt could see into the future, then a lot of things would be a lot different...like he would know that the geese would have been there, etc. I don't know how to deal with that. Joseph Mawinga in Africa-don't get him yet, but I am only at chap 6. In chap 4, re the bacon role--"eat" s/b "ate"--only grammar thing that jumped out at me.

DH Lawrence wrote a short story called Rocking Horse Winner about a boy who could predict the future. And it was about betting on horses. You have a similar beginning here in your book. You might want to check out Lawrence's story.

I loved it. You get my highest rating. I can't wait to read more.

Celine Zabel
Lives Shattered: One Mother's Loss at the Hands of the Legal System

Katrina_Allardyce wrote 464 days ago

Quick writing and funny. I have rated it wth lots of stars!

Lin55 wrote 465 days ago

No comments, your writing is too brill. Six stars for making me laugh so much!

Mindy Haig wrote 466 days ago

Hi Stephen,
I read chapter 1 last week and liked it so much I shelved it, but today I had some time to read the next 5 chapters. This is very funny! Matt is a walking disaster! Funny about the geese! I've heard of that problem with swans, but not geese!
Anyway, I am enjoying it very much (though I refuse to consider 43 middle aged!) and I am interested to see what Joseph's part in the story will be.
All the best!
Mindy

R. Dango wrote 488 days ago

There are lots of things going on in this novel and it is cleverly constructed. And excuse me for saying this, but only an experienced middle-aged man can write the surreal plot so real, and so effortlessly funny.
I think I'd buy this book when it's published.

R

fictionguy8 wrote 489 days ago

Snappy, fast paced and sometimes funny book with a lot of action. Just one wuestion. Who is Deirdie Barlow? Is that an English thing? I liked it and will finish it as soon as thing calm down. Five stars.

Camille Harding wrote 495 days ago

Barry from Eastenders- I love it!
I've only read the first four chapters, but will be reading more as soon as I get the chance. This is hilarious and on my bookshelf.

Camille
Fifty Shades of Crusty Skin, Hairy Legs and Morning Breath

Kit Fox wrote 517 days ago

I never thought I would see the words "sunburn", 'lorry", and 'homosexual pig" in the same sentence! Very easy to read and witty. Read first 6 chapters and will be back for more.

Off to the betting shop now as I too backed Red Rum in 1973 and suspect I may have something.....

Good luck. Kit Fox

Astral wrote 521 days ago

Hi Stephen,
I've read chps 1-6 so far and haven't laughed so much in ages! You can really do humour and Matt comes across as a total loser but v funny one at that. What a disaster he is but is ably supported by the rest of the cast as in 'he dated women like a census'; terrific. This is one book I think I shall read a lot more of as I love to laugh (btw, you would really like Boris in my book 'The Lovers'; based on a Bulgarian tourist I saw in Cyprus - what a dress sense that man had). You write well, your style is easy to read and some of your one-liners are excellent. I will definitely give this a good rating. It reminds me of Spike Milligan's War Memoirs. He was another very funny writer and if you haven't read them, I really recommend them. Best of luck. Amber

ou est la chat? wrote 526 days ago

Hi there,

Really enjoyed reading this. I liked Matt as a character and I particularly enjoyed your natural humour. I've been reading a book by a well known published author, getting thoroughly sick and tired of one liners that try to convince me he can write 'funny'. You don't have to try hard to make me laugh. Loved your style of writing too.

Hope you have lots of success with this.

Maria Gibbons
Past, Present, Future.

Andrea Taylor wrote 530 days ago

Matt is totally believable, his antics quite in character and from what I've read, it's really easy on the eye and brain (a compliment, reading should be fluid). You have talent and i hope this does well for you.
Andrea
The De Amerley Affair

ubulord wrote 536 days ago

Quite funny. I laughed several times. Writing quality is ok, but could be better. 5 stars

carol jefferies wrote 544 days ago

What a hilarious book! I was captivated from the first page over the hapless Matt's daily scrapes he finds himself in. (I read up to Chapter 7 and will try and read some more. )

Basing 'Thinking like a Wildebeast,' on the close-knit island of Jersey is an excellent idea, and I loved the way Matt's memoirs contrasted with the more fortunate Joseph Mawinga, living in Mozambique, but really need to read more.

I recommend this book to uplift you and make you smile. A real treasure in these grim times.

best Wishes,

Carol

East wrote 549 days ago

Good fun, good writing. I enjoyed what I read and will come back for more.

Sockseevil wrote 550 days ago

Read the first chapter. Although it isn't my usual kind of thing, it had me intrigued and I liked it. Your writing has a unique sense of comedy, and I enjoyed that quite a bit. Great work! :D

made wrote 556 days ago

I liked it

The raven wrote 559 days ago

Hi Stephen,

I really enjoyed the first four chapters of your book. Its funny, it has legs and a commonplace individual in todays society. I hope to return and read some more soon. If you find a moment to review a few chapters of the Buena Fortuna, it would be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,

The Raven

Tornbridge wrote 561 days ago

I’ve been trying to read this for while but it always seemed to be unavailable for editing . Shows how persistence pays off. There’s some great stuff in what I’ve read. You have a great mind for comedy which is as inventive as it is descriptive. Will keep reading and rate accordingly - best of luck.
Love the title too - very eye catching

Astral wrote 564 days ago

Oh god, you made me laugh! Excellent stuff. Keep writing.

Amber Andrews
'The Lovers'

a bird wrote 654 days ago

Oh God, so funny! Good on you, Stephen. It reads well, the humor is lovely and dry and clever and oh-so-British. The laughs eclipse whatever technical problems the writing may have, let the editors sort that out. As the average reader, I really enjoyed your work because it was so cleverly told. On my shelf. Good luck.
Anne Bird
P.S I agree with Sue. pop Joseph in a separate chapter between Matt's adventures.

MarkWilliams wrote 657 days ago

I read the first chapter: Interesting, impending doom.
One thing that bothered me were the cliched phrases: froze instantly, jaw dropped open. Another thing that bothered me was telling me what I already knew: "Matt drank too much." "15 lagers later." I already understood that from the set up. Also telling me he was still searching for the woman of his dreams, and how cynical he was about love is redundant over and over again, ad nauseum.
I guess my problem with the writing is that you are showing me, then telling me what you have shown me. Delete the telling and it will be a 100% improvement as far as my personal taste in literature goes.
Who is Sven? No comprende.

Tod Schneider wrote 666 days ago

Very nicely written! I've only read a chapter, but so far I find it engaging, and I do very much enjoy the dry humor. I think you paint quite the picture of our man, and the added details, with the bugs and birds, are a nice touch.
well done!
And if you have any interest in children's literature, you are invited to take a look at my novel the Lost Wink.
Thanks!
Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

fictionguy wrote 671 days ago

I read chapters one and three. Chapter two wouldn't come up for some reason. Nice touch with Elvis. I have a lady friend who gambols and loves Elvis. She would love this book. Let me know when it is published. I will try to read more in a few weeks, but enjoyed what I read so far. Five stars.

Sueboopbedoo wrote 693 days ago

Hi Stephen,

I have read chapters 1 to 5, 45 and 46. I love the appearance of Elvis in the first chapter, it’s a really nice touch however, I also think I like chapter 45 more but think you should keep Elvis in there at some point.

The scene with the Nolan’s was well thought out, I can’t think of anything more mortifying that being caught listening to something like that in the car (and I think that says a lot about me) and I also loved the scene with the geese. The description of Matt’s living room is good but I think a guy like that would definitely own an X Box or equivalent. There are an awful lot of very funny moments in TLAW that you have delivered with a very dry sense of humour which I really like. Overall I think Matt is a bit of a nightmare but he makes a great character.

I think you have a smooth flow to your writing which makes the book (or the chapters I have read) a really easy read. One thing I did find slightly jarring though was the addition of Joseph Mawinga at the end of some chapters. Although I realise he is a relevant character in the book I think it would be better to remove those parts from each chapter and to write a separate chapter altogether to preserve the flow of the story.

I’ve enjoyed reading and will red some more.

All the very best

Sue

Cyrus Hood wrote 728 days ago

This is an intriguing work, up to chapter four- Chapter three did not load, i think you have a problem there.
Chapter 1: 'ethereal rainbow' rhetorical, not sure that works.
'heavy footfalls stomped across the ceiling' - surely across the floor above.
Chapter 2; no faults
Chapter 4, no problems

This is building well so far and I am already interested in finding out how you will bring these two characters together in this book. I like the style and the pace is pitched just about right.

let me know if you do not want comments - i will return to this book very shortly - on my watch list and a fist full of stars- well done

Cyrus - Hellion 2

L_MC wrote 766 days ago

Hi Stephen, I've read ten chapters and starting to see the overlap in Joseph and Matt's stories.

Initially, I felt sorry for Matt, seemed that everything went wrong for him and that he just had a series of bad luck, but as I read on I started to get more of an impression that he's quite a pathetic character, lies to everyone and stuck in something of a time warp rut. Even his parents have had more get-up-and-go than him, leaving him behind to move to New Zealand - I wondered why he didn't go with them? I'm hoping the adventures in Africa bring a bit more substance into his character and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens if his path crosses with Caroline again and/or Joseph.

I like the way you slowly begin to introduce Joseph into the story, my only suggestion would be that the switches to his POV at the end of some chapters is abrupt - perhaps separating it in some way (such as a line of asterix) would help the transition.

Looking at the alternate chapters, I preferred 45 to 1. The Elvis at the bottom of the bed made me laugh more, but the Deirdre dream made a link to the pitch.

Why do the potential winnings drop in chapter 46 to £138,000?

Prefer chapter 46 to chapter 2. Sets up more about Stephen's frustrating work environment, who his friends and enemies are and that he can be weak in the face of a dominating personality, but I also like the scene with the geese at the reservoir in chapter three so hope that could also be retained if you switched from 2 to 46.

Not sure if it was an error in chapter three or supposed to be Anna's Polish accent - 'did you know you eat nine last week?' I didn't notice any other instances when her accent shone out so if this was deliberate, perhaps that's why it wasn't immediately obvious to me.

Joseph and Matt seem to be the main characters and the story is told from their viewpoints. There are some occasions when you reveal the thoughts and feelings of other characters, like how much Sarah doesn't want to be at Matt's flat but how much she takes pleasure in humiliating him, that pull me out of the main character's POV. From what Matt had told me about Sarah, feeling his discomfort and seeing her actions through his eyes, I'm able to infer the pleasure she gets from embarrassing him.

I can see and appreciate the comedy in the circumstances you set up for Matt in the chapters I read. I've seen how much he lies and there's already been the discussion about safari in Africa, with Anna so I can also understand how that ties in with the pitch. I think I just became a bit overwhelmed by the series of things that happen to him, I'd like to see now how he gets to Africa and how he copes with it. So looking forward to seeing whether his life gets the shake up it seems to need.

Pollyanna Pilsbury wrote 771 days ago

Hi Stephen,
I've got about half way through this. As your book is complete, I will continue with it when I have more time.
That's the problem with this site, you find something that you like, then it's prematurely over.
I cannot tell you 1 or 45, 5 or 46. I liked them both and can't see the importance attached to using either.
Your book is already well polished for the editors desk, I thought you might be grateful of a few typos, as I hate trawling through my own work trying to spot them. I'd rather someone else spot them for me.
Chapter two: Your quotation marks have come out back-to-front on "Oh, is that right."
Chapter four: "You are eating a bacon roll. Did you know you eat nine last week?" I realise, with dialogue that you can spell however you like. The polish people that I know, may have accents but they are very clued up on their 'eat' and their 'ate'.
All I can personally disapprove of is, 'To much football'. Please understand in my view, they should forget the 'kick about' for ninety minutes and just play for penalties, ten minutes maximum air time. He-He.
I like the way you introduce the other half of your story at the end of some chapters. This is much better than starting at the beginning, half way through the book.
I love all your colourful characters, I know most of them in my own real life.
A fantastic and humourous read, I look forward to more, when I get time.
Good luck.
Pollyanna. 'Marsupeople'.

marfleet wrote 782 days ago

ComLit forum (review)
http://www.authonomy.com/forums/threads/90937/comlit/

Thinking Like a Wildebeest

Very clean MS and the writing smooth, relaxed and with great comic moments. I think it needs to have a more definitive “hook” earlier, not a great hunk of action or anything but just a few scenes that the reader can see will tie up later and is intrigued as to how. The bet acts as one and the Kenya bit at the end of Chap 2 another but neither is quite developed enough. I think adding to the Kenya bit early could provide this – just a thought.


Thoughts and comments as I read (I didn’t list the good bits, of which there were many that got a laugh, so please don’t feel this is negative)
Chap 4
- Did you know you eat nine last week? || Did you know you ate nine last week?
Chap 6
Entertaining so far but no real hook and not sure where it is heading (haven’t read 45 & 46 yet so may be fixed there). May be better to pull in something more from Kenya earlier to give a sense of what is coming up.

Chap 45 & 46 prefered this start but even with this I still think bringing out a foreshadow earlier is needed.

BTW Money to be one is different in these two chapters (161000 vs 138000 ) – may be a reason, do the odds change?

All the best with it.

Andrew
A Fatal Misuse of time
Short pitch: Ever tried waking up yesterday instead of tomorrow? That is just the beginning of Tristan's troubles as his life is hijacked to reveal the future.
(Not a time travel novel really, more a mystery/philosophy comedy :-)

marfleet wrote 782 days ago

ComLit forum (review)
http://www.authonomy.com/forums/threads/90937/comlit/

Thinking Like a Wildebeest

Very clean MS and the writing smooth, relaxed and with great comic moments. I think it needs to have a more definitive “hook” earlier, not a great hunk of action or anything but just a few scenes that the reader can see will tie up later and is intrigued as to how. The bet acts as one and the Kenya bit at the end of Chap 2 another but neither is quite developed enough. I think adding to the Kenya bit early could provide this – just a thought.


Thoughts and comments as I read (I didn’t list the good bits, of which there were many that got a laugh, so please don’t feel this is negative)
Chap 4
- Did you know you eat nine last week? || Did you know you ate nine last week?
Chap 6
Entertaining so far but no real hook and not sure where it is heading (haven’t read 45 & 46 yet so may be fixed there). May be better to pull in something more from Kenya earlier to give a sense of what is coming up.

Chap 45 & 46 prefered this start but even with this I still think bringing out a foreshadow earlier is needed.

BTW Money to be one is different in these two chapters (161000 vs 138000 ) – may be a reason, do the odds change?

All the best with it.

Andrew
A Fatal Misuse of time
Short pitch: Ever tried waking up yesterday instead of tomorrow? That is just the beginning of Tristan's troubles as his life is hijacked to reveal the future.
(Not a time travel novel really, more a mystery/philosophy comedy :-)

jollyoldsaint wrote 792 days ago

ComLit Review --Thinking Like a Wildebeest

Stephen,

I love this title.

I’m commenting as I read because I find it so helpful when others do it for me.

Ch 1: Not sure whether it matters…from reading other comments, it sounds like you’re undecided about keeping this first chapter, but here goes:

I’d combine the first two sentences into “…shop and said, “I want…””
I like the guys’ comments, especially Tom Jones.

“Cheeks Nightclub” made me smile.

Not quite sure if he’s being ironic: “…he would never understand…” I mean, is he clear about his failings as a human or is he blind to his faults?

I’d condense the Venus/Mars reference…love the next line.

“…inappropriate tee-shirts” made me laugh. Nice description here.

I liked the image of the wasp trying to head-butt through the glass, but you might punch up the language a little…lose the passive stuff and the “watched.” I feel like I’m in his head enough where you could lose that. And probably I’m a dork, but at first I thought the wasp was in the room with him.

“Hostile invertebrates swarmed over the outside of the building and were constantly trying to break in.” made me laugh out loud. :D I’m wondering if this is foreshadowing or if it’s meant to illustrate his fearfulness in general…ahhh, nature’s attacking. (Have you seen the movie, Failure to Launch?)

I think I’d show the huge relief by an action. What’s middle-aged to him? Is she his age or twenty years older?

I think I’d do more of the Feeling of the shorts under his feet right away—I mean, that’s what I was looking for, does it feel sharp or soft, etc.?

He’s naked in the window, waving at the mean neighborhood watch lady—big smile!

Ch. 2:

I don’t know the Reference. No big deal, but there were two spots in a row and it slowed me down a bit…pulled me out.

“Black Hole, a radical faction of the local Astronomy Club” made me laugh. Aliens! Yeah!

“there is” I’d make that “there’s”—Nope, rewind…I’d mention the Polish accent just before the quote…i.e. “A lovely Polish accent…” or s’thing so we’re not wondering why it’s not “there’s.”

I kinda want the action to get rolling, even though the writing’s good and this is info we need. Think I tend to do the same thing in my writing. Jumping right in can feel brash and then I go back with more introductory stuff and end up going back again and putting the plot/action in with it.

“…death of Prince Charles left her inconsolable…” so wrong, but it made me laugh.

Why does Evelyn prowl the streets? Streetwalker? Drunk? Who is she and why is he always running into her? “Matt sneaked…” 


“…mouldy slice of toast…from the floor” eww…:D good stuff.

I like Geoff’s 4-H shirt. “…unusually restrained…” Ha!

“Matt cursed…Mariana’s Trench.” Great paragraph.

Nice exchange with neighbor.

Pardon my dirty mind, but is Matt about to trade sex for a car jump?

Fun Chapter…don’t know where the heck you’re going with the Too Skinny thing, but I want to find out.

Ch. 3:

What Happened With the Scary Downstairs Guy? Are you teasing or am I being dense?

I’d work in the description without stopping the narrative.

I didn’t realize that “It had also been a memorable day for Anna…” was the signal for a change in POV. Again, I’m probably being dense, but if I had to go back, someone else might, too.

Love that about Doris conning a breakfast out of him.

Maybe cut…Cliché? Sorta okay with me, if coming out of a character’s mouth…to an extent, but I try (unsuccessfully—I’m forever going back for another edit and catching one) to keep one that’s real well-known out of my description. “bubbled…”

The tape thing is funny…I don’t know who the Nolan sisters are, though. Maybe a heads-up, like the techno/disco/funk whatever of the Nolan…

I like the car alarm bit. Anna seems nice…I’m kinda hoping something will save her from Matt. Am I supposed to dislike him quite so much? Thing is, I don’t get the feeling he has a whole lot of respect for himself or anyone else. If he really liked Anna, he wouldn’t lie to her/keep things from her/pretend to be something he’s not. (I think you’ve really just hit a nerve here.) So, I’m wondering if this romance is going anywhere and hoping not.
Whether it works and they end up married 50 years or not, he’s still scamming her and she’s looking like a fool. And I don’t think he really knows he’s doing it…we’ll see.

“scent of summer flowers…” I like this.

“At that precise moment, the closest was a young male in a river in Northern France.” Hilarious! Then the follow-up with the doll! Then bang, onto the ring-tone. Fantastic!

“Moments later…she watched as Matt rubbed a variety of greenery over his nettle rash.” Wonderful image.


Ch. 4:

“reeled from the shock”—might change that up.

“It would take the UK’s leading decontamination experts…” funny
Oh, geez, I just realized he was lying about the friends coming over. Does he ever tell the truth? Only as a last resort, perhaps?...volcano? Holy crap. Is this where Anna’s flatmate turns out to be a ex-prison matron who freelances at Guantanamo…I’m thinking I would love to see someone beat the f___ing truth out of this jerk… I’m pissed off. I want a giant mutant alligator/crocodile/otter hybrid to arise from the lake and chomp down on his Abba-loving ears.

M’kay, I might find the lies funny if there were an acknowledgment early on, either by the narrator or the character himself that he is a pathological/compulsive (not sure which definition works here) liar. Sometimes I can’t watch Bringing Up Baby, either though. Maybe I’m way off here. Thing is, if a book’s funny I’ll read it, regardless of any other genre designation. But here, I’m not identifying with him. Is this all to show us why the gal left him all those years ago?

Love the descriptions of his friends.

Geese attack! He left her there! Holy sh*t! I’m laughing. He’s hideous. I wish I knew someone to set Anna up with. Or a hitman.

I really like the info about him. It seems natural…only just realized they were in New Zealand, though. Probably I missed something.

I was upset they were bonding over the geese until I saw that she was homewrecking whore. Great. They deserve each other. :) ( something about not "Judge not others..." springs to mind, but...it's not quite coming. ;))

“Excluding Evelyn’s town-wide threat…” funny


Overall Impression:

This book is hilarious. Filled with specific, fun images, witty one-liners and interesting characters.

I want to keep reading. My inability to identify with the characters is the only thing keeping me from going on with it right now and I think that’s easily remedied.

Structure so far:

Even though you've framed it with the bet and we're waiting to see on that...and wondering about the outcome of the bet keeps me reading...I want more plot action earlier on. (I believe I've done much the same thing in the novel that's coming up for review here and I'm hoping to have time to do some major cutting in the early chapters before then. I doubt you need to do anything like that. What I mean is that I need to get to the action quicker--in my book--I think and I have a lot of character development I could lose. With Wildebeest, it seems you could just move some things up. Pull them into the interaction between Matt and Anna. Foreshadow more and connect the outer plot with the relationship and character development.)

A stimulating read with laugh-out-loud moments. Thanks for posting it.

Nick

;):p:d:):) 5 happy faces

Maevesleibhin wrote 793 days ago


ComLit Review
Thinking Like A Wildebeest
Stephen,
I have read up to chapter 17.
This is a fun read and I am quite enjoying it. It has a pleasant atmosphere and likable characters (well, except for Sarah), although they may be a bit pathetic at times. However, I do feel that you take a bit too long to get off the ground, and that generally you could do a bit more with you assets. For example, I feel that you have avoided some opportunities to move the plot along faster and make the interactions more comic, choosing instead to leisurely develop Matt while making him a rather sorry being. So, while I think that it would be a fun read on a holiday trip as it is so far, I think you could do more to grab the reader in the first few chapters.
Hook and Plot- I feel that the book does not have a strong hook until about chapter 10, when it becomes clear that he is going to go to Africa. I have said  before on this site that it is a shameful part of this medium that there are so many books to read that an early hook may be important to catch a lot of people's attention. Indeed, in the future we may all be criticized as having ridiculously short attention spans. Be that as it may, I feel that this book does not really catch early on. Indeed, it spends the first few chapters giving a very clear impression of Matt as a rather pathetic individual. After a while I felt a bit sorry for him. There is a minor hook with the invitation of Ana to the football viewing, and the potential love interest that you have there, but it is a very weak hook, particularly when we know from the name and cover that none of this has much to do with the purported plot of the book, which involves Africa.
As far as plot is concerned, I found it a very readable book, but a bit unfocused until, again, you make the connection with Africa and his old flame. By the end of the section that I read you have a good plot going, with Matt just missing a close encounter with his son. However, again, I feel that you take a bit too long to get off the ground. I get the overwhelming feeling looking back at the section that I read that the main point was to make Matt very pathetic, rather than sympathetic.
It seemed that you tried to make me keep my focus on the eventual real plot by switching to Africa for the last bit of most chapters. This, however, did not do it for me. I found these passages much too short (except for chapter  where we find out that Matt is the father), and more of a distraction to the plot than a foothold in the larger plot arc. 
Now, before I go on, I want to make clear that I found this a very enjoyable read, and the lack of a strong plot does not detract from this fact. But it was enjoyable in spite of the fact that the hook and plot were not strong, not because of it.
Character Development.
It seems to me that you decided to focus on developing Matt during the beginning of the book. And you did that quite well. I feel like I know the character you are trying to show me. But I don't like him very much, and it  does not feel like you do either. Yes, you throw a lot of bad luck at him, but you also make him very maladroit. He is portly, has bad taste in music, wears children's underwear (this is a bit off, I must say) drinks to oblivion, urinates on other peoples contraband... and is member of a UFO group. He is shallow, messy and careless.  
Now, if he were a more sympathetic character who just had a lot of bad things happen to him, these bits of bad luck would be funnier for me. And you had an opportunity to do bring out the best in him during the outing with Anna. However, having him lie about his love of wildlife just to stay on her good side (and later taking her teddy bear for the same reason) makes him seem like a manipulative character. Not very endearing. I wish he had been sweet with her, and that you would have shown a nice side of Matt, a side to make me feel sorry when bad things happen to him. 
You really did this quite repeatedly. I understand you are trying to make the point that Matt makes a mess of every woman he meats except for Caroline. But for me the meeting with Alison at the airport was the last in a series of instance of feeling like Matt was just an absolute jerk.
I did not feel a lot of emphasis on character development of the supporting characters. A bit with Anna, of course, a bit with Mary, but these seem to be backdrops to Matt. I imagine that Joseph and Caroline will be instrumental later on, but I did not get far enough to judge.
Ambiance and descriptions- I found that you  did not do much with your exciting Jersey location. I have never been to the Channel Islands, but I am sure that they have a very particular feel. Other than emphasizing that everyone knew everyone else, I felt that you did not take advantage of this opportunity. (With exception of the reservoir, but that is not particularly unique, is it). On the other hand, you seemed to pause and give very detailed descriptions of rooms that did not have very much importance later on, like the store with its ice cream freezer, or his apartment. Of course, you may be saving your rich description for Africa, and that would be all well. I just found that you missed an opportunity here.
What I thought was well and comically done was your explanation of Burgana, which was very funny as a stereotypical sub-saharan country. 
Humour- Finally, this book was fun, but not really funny for me. Matt's humiliations were of course amusing, but after a while they became sad. Why the tie, why the underwear, why Spock, why the lies... So it is not his fault that he gets his trousers stained in the crotch, or his picture taken fleeing from geese, but he is not helping himself at all.

Again, this is coming across as a very negative review. I do not mean it to be. There is something pleasant about the read, and, once we are clear about the plot (a reunion of Caroline and Matt, I presume) it has a cute premise. But I feel that you are treating your MC too badly, waiting too long for the plot hook and giving up some comic opportunities.
I would humbly suggest that you consider bringing in Africa much, much sooner, but not as final passages at the end of chapters. Perhaps even in the first or second chapter. I also suggest making Matt more sympathetic. Some of the things that happen to him would be much funnier to me if I liked the guy.
I give this three happy faces, but wish you the best of luck. 
Best, 
Maeve


Comments as I read
The World Cup kicked off in Germany in six days time.
Should be days'
Matt tapped as hard as he dare on the window, 
Should be dared.
Good presentation of character, but not a strong hook. 
2 the change of scene to Africa comes too abruptly before the end of the chapter. 
3
At that precise moment, the closest was a young male in a river in northern France. The confused adolescent was trying to mate with a floating cabbage patch doll.  
:)
Alan was blonde, handsome and built like a middleweight boxer. A confirmed bachelor, narcissistic tendencies quickly drove girlfriends away. At six foot four, craggy beanpole Ray might just as well have been single such was the irredeemable state of his marriage. Alan and Ray often accompanied Matt to Cheeks and both had witnessed the previous night’s antics.   ..
Description of his friends here detracts from the narrative. I would wait until you need it. blonde is for women. 

The personal add paragraphs I think also detract. 
4 cute. Same comment at the end.