“Tommy Martin is a well known Norwich-based stand-up comedian, struggling to connect with a teenage daughter who texts him from upstairs and still harbours resentment for the way he used her school play in his routine. He’s also trying to move on from the death of his wife – and his burgeoning relationship with a modern artist coincides with a series of strange, possibly supernatural events. This character-driven ghost story is built around a middle-aged hero whose pleasure centres are still suspended in the 90s and for whom a conventional horror story “haunting” mostly means coming to terms with his own parental shortcomings and his pent-up resentment at his late wife for not being around. It’s a story rich in humour, from Tommy’s frequent Googling of ear hair remover to an array of witty pop culture references name checking everyone from Paul Merton to John Waters. Its strongest moments tend to be the quietest, like Tommy’s realisation that he was always too busy honing his jokes to even pay attention to what his daughter’s favourite cereal is. The familiar haunting angle is punctuated with laughs (notably a reference to a key GHOSTBUSTERS scene), a foray into backward-talking David Lynch territory and a show-stopping fatality in an art gallery. Tommy, like all human beings, isn’t always likeable but Blissett’s empathetic characterisation is rich and authentic, and his journey pays off with a wrenching, ultimately moving emotional exorcism.”
“Laughing Boy tells the tale of a haunting. It takes the reader into the life of Tommy, and sees him having to pick open the scabbed-over wounds of the far from perfect marriage to his dead wife, Sophie, when she begins to interfere with Tommy’s blossoming new relationship with Evelyn. This takes place as he is also fighting to heal the rift between himself and his teenage daughter, Penny. As Sophie’s influence becomes more and more dangerous Tommy finds help from an unexpected source.
Story aside, Blissett’s writing speaks to every aspect of relationships. Not simply the honeymoon period of the new. Through Tommy’s eyes you will be rewarded (for that is exactly what it feels like) to explanations of the emotional roller coaster of a ride that old and new relationships can subject us to. Feelings you may have agonised over, in your own attempts to understand the confusion you felt during moments similar to Tommy’s, are explained in succinct, measured words.
‘A perfect Moebius strip of apologies…before one of us finds the courage to stop…the relief tinged with sadness.’
This is what Blissett does best. He writes with an open-wound elegance that leaves his readers purged. Like a literary blood-letting. Yes, there are a couple of not-so-polished places where the many cogs evident in professional publications are lacking, but these instances do not detract in any way from the story. In fact they highlight that you are witnessing the next step along a very determined development as a writer.”
“Matt again has managed to sweep you away with the characters of this book, in a similar way to Caitlin in “Until she Sings”
Tommy had be praying for his success, especially when getting further into the story.
I fiund myself hoping for a happy ending with Evelyn and Penny, and was so relieved when Rebecca came round near the end.
I would suggest that anyine wanting a really good read, that they should definately invest in this book and Matts 1st book.”
“I was pleasantly delighted by this book. I really appreciated that it wasn’t the standard romance. The storyline was just a little different and that made me really happy. I so wish I could explain exactly why that is, but I don’t want to give a spoiler review. The sex was good. Got a little kinky without becoming overly so. Great writing. I really appreciated that there were no grammar or spelling errors, which also seems very common in this genre nowadays. Highly recommended to those who enjoy passionate romance and instance love.”
“I found myself entrapped by this story. It was hard to put down.
The details and emotions van be felt in your heart as they are described in such style, that you feel as though you are ‘Cat ” and you can feel her every pain and happiness
This is an outstandingly excellent story by an exceptional local (Norwich) author”
Until She Sings is MBBlissett’s story of the ordinary; the push and pull of personal relationships. However, what Blissett does best, and with unerring confidence, is to tell it in extraordinary detail.
From the moment we meet Caitlin Ross we know we are in the company of a sensitive soul, and it is with a concrete understanding of how that same sensitivity can be as much an open wound as it is a healing that the author walks us through the transformation of Caitlin.
The young woman we encounter at the start of the book is at a point in her life with her boyfriend, Luke, where she is developing and progressing along a path that originally was the glue of their relationship: Music. But where Luke, the flamboyant front-man of a band on the cusp of fame, is fearful of the next step; choosing to remain confidently just full of potential, Caitlin is taking the brave step of solo-performing her own songs during an open mic night. The lack of support she gets from Luke during the gig is further emphasised by the attention Caitlin receives immediately afterwards from Daniel. A man whose insightful recognition of her musical influences – her parents both were musicians – told Caitlin that he was truly seeing her. Not simply looking. It is Daniel’s continued focus on her person, whilst always deferring to her mind, that provides a tantalising taste of surely what everybody wants from a relationship; presence.
The subject of music lends itself very adeptly to the author’s writing style, as the detail with which he delivers Caitlin’s story is very much one of a musical structure. Blissett’s strength lies in his attention to detail within a scene. The clothing, the food, the characters’ idiosyncrasies all arrive in our minds as individual notes. However, this detailed description of a scene is far more than page-filling verbosity. Encouraging us to note the minutiae allows that moment to transcend from a collection of individual notes into a chord. And as the story of Caitlin’s intensely painful acceptance of the death of something changes into the hopeful birth of something new, so too the chapters of Until She Sings arrive in our minds with a resonance, for anybody that has lived, loved and lost can surely do nothing but empathise.
As the story continues the balance shifts further as friends in Luke’s periphery continue to insinuate themselves further into the already struggling relationship. Conversely it is a friend of Caitlin’s; April, that provides a counterpoint to that unwelcome intrusion, in the form of a sexual awakening. This is the point at which Blissett’s details shine. When he talks of the inanimate it can be with an often forensic focus, but when he treats his readers to sex he does it with such verve whilst not being salacious. He doesn’t skimp on the physical in any way, but it is the masterful manner with which he shows us how these encounters feel rather than simply how they look.
“I do not intentionally pursue love stories, and Until She Sings was purchased primarily as a way to support an author I have watched, often from too great a distance, but continually watched nonetheless, and I can say I had often dismissed books of this category, but did so from a naive and ignorant belief that I knew enough of the genre to know it wasn’t what I wanted. This book was an eye-opener for me: not only as a shocking reminder of the old adage about book covers and the judging thereof, but also of just how accomplished Matt has become. So take a day or two and immerse yourself in Caitlin’s story.
Until She Sings is an ordinary story told in an extraordinary way.”