Mayflies – Andrew O’Hagan

Friendship, youth, mortality, music, Margaret Thatcher and other weighty matters

Mayflies would make a perfect gift for a friend, especially if you were both young, and maybe a bit wild, in the 1980s. (It’s also a good book for anyone who likes good books, but I mean specifically…)

O’Hagan writes beautifully. Sparse but not dry, lyrical but not flowery. Full of emotion but free of drama. It’s a style that works wonderfully for this story of male friendship. Particularly friendship between guys who have been friends since they were kids, who know each other and each others’ lives inside out. Heavy on dialogue that captures how such friends can combine a crushing/hilarious insult, a football commentary and an ‘I love you’, practically in the same breath.

I’m not a man so perhaps I can’t truly say whether the way the friendships in this book are depicted is 100% true to life. But in the 80s I was friends with a bunch of guys who were close friends since childhood; 5 of them played in a punk band together. I married one of them and I stood side by side with them last month as they said goodbye to their ‘Tully’. And in my eyes, Mayflies perfectly captures the period, the antics, the fun and the friendship, both at the time and in how it has all evolved 35 years later. So much so that for the life of me I can’t stand back and be objective about this [autobiographical?] novel.

All that sounds very serious, and it is a serious novel. But it’s also fun and entertaining. At times it took me back and made me feel 35 years younger, briefly. That’s a good thing and worth reading this book for, if nothing else.

My thanks to Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.

Find Mayflies on Amazon and at other bookstores.

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