Saturday, November 20, 2021

Book Review: "Mayflies" by Andrew O'Hagan

Andrew O'Hagan's Mayflies is a powerful and poignant look at friendship and how far we will go to help a friend.

James and Tully met in a small Scottish town in 1986. They are drawn to one another by their love of music and film, their difficult relationships with their fathers, and their devil-may-care attitude, although the 20-year-old Tully embodies that far more than James. But theirs is a fierce, loyal friendship.

“He had innate charisma, a brilliant record collection, complete fearlessness in political argument, and he knew how to love you more than anybody else. Other guys were funny and brilliant and better and this and that, but Tully loved you.”

Along with some friends, they make an epic trip to Manchester that summer to see one of their favorite bands, The Sex Pistols. On that trip they vow to always go at life differently.

In 2017, James learns that Tully is dying. As always, Tully wants to live—and leave—life on his own terms, so he asks James for help. Can a friendship be so strong you’d truly do anything for your friend?

Mayflies is a book in two parts, really—it’s ebullient and buzzing with energy at the start, and it’s moving and tremendously thought-provoking at the end. I’ll admit I struggled with the dialect in which the story was told, which put me at a bit of a disconnect, but this is still so moving. With one of my friends currently at the end of his life, I can only wonder how I’d react in the same situation as the book describes.

NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada provided me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!!

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