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Diary of a Somebody

Narrated by: Ben Miller
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4.3 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

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Summary

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

Part tender love story, part murder mystery, part hilarious description of a wasted life and interspersed with some of the funniest poems about the mundane and the profound, Diary of a Somebody is a stunningly original novel from Twitter sensation, Brian Bilston.

It’s January 1st and Brian Bilston is convinced that this year, his New Year’s resolution will change his life. Every day for a year, he will write a poem. It’s quite simple. Brian’s life certainly needs improving. His ex-wife has taken up with a new man, he seems to constantly disappoint his long-suffering son and at work he is drowning in a sea of spreadsheets and management jargon. So poetry will be his salvation. 

But there is an obstacle in the form of Toby Salt, his arch nemesis at Poetry Club and rival suitor to Liz, Brian’s new poetic inspiration. When Toby goes missing, just after the announcement of the publication of his first collection, This Bridge No Hands Shall Cleave, Brian becomes the number one suspect. If he is to regain his reputation and to have a chance of winning Liz, he must find out what has happened to Toby before it is too late. 

©2019 Brian Bilston (P)2019 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

What listeners say about Diary of a Somebody

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

"Doing tricks and all that stuff..."

Brian Bilston,, the poet Laureate of Twitter, is on a roll 'doing tricks and all that stuff', like the dog in his poem who spontaneously combusted with a final 'woof'. It's all great fun bursting with puns, word games, acrostics, spoofs wrapped around a straggly old plot that, like Brian, never quite gets anywhere but provides lots of real laughter along the way. Brian (not the author's real name) is a hopeless loser - he's lost his job for being useless; his wife has left him for being useless; he makes pitifully useless attempts at getting somewhere with Liz at his poetry society but manages each attempt with such cringeworthy imbecility that you can hardly bear to listen. But it's all harmless and humorous as Brian puts his experiences into daily poems, the topics of which reach new depths of banality - mixing up the recycling and landfill bin collection days for example - but which somehow manage to be funny. His spoofs of familiar and unfamiliar poems and songs from TSEliot, the Bible,to Dylan Thomas and Kate Bush and loads more are often extremely clever, whilst others remain the dross which Brian knows they are which actually makes them funny. A disadvantage of listening is that you can't see the acrostics or flick back to re-read a poem. I loved the spoof of vicious Icelandic children's stories with the evil Papa Pumplecheeks. The poem written to his one true friend, his cat, who, Brian finds, has ceased to breathe is genuinely moving with the grief sealed around Brian's heart, His relationship with his son Dylan, batted between his mum, her grotesque new guy, and his hopeless dad is tender. Nothing in Twitterland in all its madness escapes Brian's light-hearted but heartfelt scorn.. What makes the whole of this worthwhile - even if Brian's love of custard creams and other themes are over-done - is the humanity of Brian and the combination of serious empathy and feeling with apparent silliness. Think about the title 'Advice for Removing Keyboard Tearstains':and then read the poem: ' If you happen to notice / your keyboard is dirty / use a water spray can / and give it a SQWERTY' Brian's poetry society with the hideously pretentious Toby Salt and his ridiculously nonsensical but high-riding volume This Bridge no Hands shall cleave is great stuff. Brian's ability to pun, re-make; twist and conjure words is a constant delight. Having read the ad urging a company to 'monetise your followers', Brian tells us how he did so by painting them with waterlilies. It's very well read - just how Brian should sound like. Brian (or Paul Millicheap or whoever he is) deserves his Twitter followers!

6 people found this helpful

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Perfect for audio rather than a book

The narrator is fantastic, so I’m delighted I decided to listen to this rather than read it. I don’t think I’d have done justice to the comic verse in my head, whereas the narration just made it even more funny. This made me literally laugh out loud every time I listened. Loved it.

2 people found this helpful

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amusingly normalizing our veiw on normal

as i write poems this book hit a spot for me. read it or not read it listened to it twice. well done to the witty author. i salute you.

1 person found this helpful

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very enjoyable

very easy to read and laugh out loud funny at times! I struggled to stop listening.

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Perfect performance

Ben Miller is the best choice to narrate this gently humourous tale, and does an astonishing job with Bilston's unique poetic flights of fancy. Excellent story too and ideal for fans of Bilston and Sue Townsend.

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A very different listen

This is an amusing book stuffed full of very clever poetry. I found it got better and better after a slowish start. The narration is excellent and I listened to it with great pleasure.

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wonderful quirky book

I really enjoyed this book. I smiled through out. Also loved the narration! Charming book

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Clever, funny, gentle

I was amazed at how quickly I was drawn into this brilliant book. It made me laugh and immediately share my favourite lines...it never goes in quite the expected direction! A must for anyone who loves cats, music and words. Superbly performed by Ben Miller!!

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Like watching your dad dance.

Oh dear. I tried to stick with this dire and predictable diary, but had to give up, before the end. It really needed a narrator with some soul or gravitas to lift it out of cliché mud. I found it so irritating, in a sad way, like watching your dad dance.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Clever and inexhaustible

With this type of book, the humour is in the details. Every word counts, so listen carefully and without interruption. Highly enjoyable.