In Real Life by Chris Killen
Chris Killen’s second book is a quirky analysis of modern life. Nobody has much money, they don’t do anything very exciting, and yet the intricate overlapping threads are absolutely enthralling. They’re all fundamentally nice people who do their best and yet never quite make it. Perhaps the meaning of ‘it’ is something that troubled Killen enough to come up with such an enjoyable read.
I met Chris at the same event as Meatspace author Nikesh Shukla, and the titles sort of conjure up similar ideas, but I jumped to a few wrong conclusions. They’re really not comparable. This book is not ‘about’ social networking, in fact it barely features. An email chain does feature prominently, but that technology pre-dates social by a few decades. There are three narrators and two time periods. I always get a little confused by that, but it perhaps reflects more on me as a reader.
In summary I really enjoyed this and will seek out his other novel. Chris recommended I take a look at the beat writer Richard Brautigan, and I am happy to pass on that recommendation here. Very specifically, Chris suggested Trout Fishing in America, from 1967. For UK readers, there is a recent Canongate edition with an introduction by the incomparable Neil Gaiman. It is also available under the Kindle Unlimited package, including audio narration.