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Not Tonight Neil
Not Tonight Neil


When 42 year old satirical cartoonist, Dennis Pugh, publishes his cartoon narrative, Noises Through the Wall, the story of a teenager on a 60s council estate in Manchester who goes through puberty only a thin wall away from his sexually exuberant neighbours, Neil and Helen, the psycho-thriller of the real events on which his book is based emerge again.
Set in 1969 on a council estate in north Manchester this thriller-cum-dark-satire centres on Dennis’s adolescent travails, including his longings for both Helen and a teenager, Lorraine Lever); on what he hears through the wall and the puzzle of who commits the central murder.
In a tone that is not so much social realism as dark comedy, a mode that’s appropriate to Dennis’s adult profession, Not Tonight Neil, deftly handles not only coming of age, but the struggles of people living in close proximity to carve out their own identities. Brimming with sharply observed characters, Not Tonight Neil is at once hilarious and poignant, witty and humane. -- Publisher: Cinnamon Press.

As we flit between 1969 and the modern day, Dennis Pugh is both a troubled teen and a celebrated cartoonist. His teenage bedroom is key to Ian Gregson’s Not Tonight Neil, and the legacy of an overheard scream remains with him for life. Opening with a scream, the book goes on with the tease of a reveal throughout. Where Gregson really succeeds is his characters. The teenage Dennis, for example, is someone we empathise with, but do not pity. We find him amusing, but don’t laugh at him. Gregson could easily have turned him into an Adrian Mole-style cartoon, but his subtlety is such that this is avoided. Similarly Gregson holds back and sidesteps making this a period novel. With cultural references pinpointing a specific era, he is reserved enough to avoid it becoming a pastiche of the sixties. There’s a flash white Mini and girls in ever-shortening skirts, but this is a million miles from Austin Powers. Not Tonight Neil is a joy of a novel, in which Ian Gregson serves up a unique blend of coming of age and murder mystery. With the teenage tensions of growing pains layered with the building tension surrounding the murder of a young woman, it is a darkly funny book that remains consistent throughout. -- Liam Nolan @ www.gwales.c