Cover image for It's what he would've wanted : a novel about secrets, suicide, and bad weather
It's what he would've wanted : a novel about secrets, suicide, and bad weather
Hughes, Sean, 1965-
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Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2001]

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290 pages ; 25 cm
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Best known as a stand-up comedian and television star, Sean Hughes has won acclaim with his trademark black comedy. In It's What He Would've Wanted, Hughes combines edgy humor with considerable narrative powers to tell the story of Shea Hickson, whose footloose, disaffected existence is turned upside down when he finds his father, a BBC weatherman, hanging from the light fixture. The Hicksons appear to be a quintessentially comfortable, suburban, middle-class family. But when Shea discovers an encoded journal his father had been keeping, he uncovers shocking revelations about his father's disappointed life as a parent, husband, and disillusioned minor celebrity. With wry humor and savage undercurrents the tale winds through the seamier side of London life -- skirting the worlds of television, newspapers, and small-scale urban terrorism. Ultimately, the unraveling of the Hickson family's increasingly distasteful secrets forces a reluctant Shea to grow up.

Author Notes

Sean Hughes, a native of Dublin, is a bestselling author in the UK. The youngest winner ever of the Perrier Award for Comedy at the Edinburgh Festival, he has gone on to critically acclaimed performances in television & film, including appearances in "The Commitments" & "The Butcher Boy". His fiction is published by Simon & Schuster UK. He lives in London, England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Shea Hickson's father, a TV weatherman, commits suicide, and when Shea discovers the body along with a series of diaries, his life, for the first time, has direction. He must decipher his father's meteorologically encrypted diaries and unfold the complicated and painful story leading up to his suicide. But this is no ordinary grief observed. Shea confronts every crisis in his life with an unhealthy dose of glib sarcasm, and his discoveries about his father are often as funny as they are tragic (he sleeps with his father's mistress, for instance). Young Hickson also must confront impending fatherhood, following a one-night stand with his hairdresser, and perform one final task for the shady leftist organization for which he has worked for several years. The frenetic pace of the novel continues to speed up until a brilliantly wrought, heart-rending conclusion gives the novel emotional power it might otherwise lack. Some readers may tire of Shea's talky, introspective narration, but following Shea around feels like driving through the streets of nighttime London at 140 kilometers per hour--terrifying and horrible, but really fun. --John Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Raunchy, irreverent and intermittently amusing, this rambling black comedy tells the unlikely story of a 30-something London slacker with a clandestine second life. Shea Hickson may confess his postadolescent discontent with all the self-aware self-indulgence of a Nick Hornby character, but he justifies his hazy existence by his secret participation as "Little John" in an anti-celebrity underground conspiracy out of a Ben Elton satire. When his father, a popular BBC-TV weatherman, commits suicide, Shea has something in his life to take seriously other than culture jamming for the mysterious "Robin Hood," his contact in the guerrilla organization. His father's diary reveals a secret life of his own, and Shea decides to track down the people in it, who are code-named the Sun, the Wind, the Clouds and El Ni¤o. Hughes, a popular British stand-up comedian, produces torrents of one-liners and even scattered satiric invective, but no cohesive plot. As Shea explores his father's past, from radical lefty university days to compromised media career, he realizes that the old man's sins are going to be visited on his sons. Shea, his brother, and even a mysterious half-brother in Australia are in imminent danger. For all the Martin Amis-style black humor and bad sex, the final, telegraphed twist to Hughes's talky satire about the chattering classes can't unite its disparate voices. (Mar.) Forecast: Hughes is a bestselling author in England, but his celebrity status in the U.K. won't help the book much here, and the novel's flaws probably will keep its sales from being what Hughes would have wanted. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved