Every now and then I spend a very expensive hour or so walking the A - Z of one of the bigger Waterstone's, gradually filling up a basket with things that grab my interest, just based on the jacket, cover blurb or a "bit like..." quote. The down side of this is I'm often suffering from literary stress ie the feeling of more books on my to read shelf than I can possibly get through. However, it does have the upside of discovering stuff that I missed when it was first released. Although this then leads to another visit to buy the rest of that author's back list!
"Cherry" by Matt Thorne is one of those such books. Matt Thorne has been writing novels since 1998 and Cherry was originally published in 2005.
The story focuses on Steve Ellis a single teacher who lives an insular life. He is not overly attractive as a character with an self centred cynical view of the world. After befriending an old man in a bar , Steve soon gets a visit from a representative of the "Your Perfect Woman" dating agency. No sooner has he gone through the profiling exercise than his perfect woman appears and starts to fulfil his every desire and need. You don't need to be a genius to figure out all of this is just too good to be true , or if it is true, consequences are sure to follow. Especially with the author's skill in building a sense of unease and a feeling that even the mundane is all slightly off kilter.
The sparse prose reads like a cross between a modern morality tale and noir thriller. The odd array of characters reminded me a bit of Twin Peaks but a Twin Peaks written by Paul Auster or Rupert Thomson.
Like Paul Auster (in Music of Chance rather than Brooklyn Follies mode) what happens isn't really the point and moving the plot forward often relies on outrageous coincidence or brief suspensions of logic. What is important is the way people react and why as well as how their reactions often set things running like a complex domino run.
Also in common with Auster the journey is much more satisfying than the ending
A book that really sucks you in and creates a genuine "what an earth is going to happen next" feeling
You can buy Cherry here