by M Jonathan Lee
I just finished 337 by M Jonathan LEE. So, when I was asked to review this book I was informed that the best way to describe 337 is NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS!
That is certainly true about this book. If you would like a very simple summary you could say it is a story of a Man looking back at his life. Maybe thinking about his successes and failures and the circumstances that lead him to where he wound up.
But then of course you would be wrong. Because NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS!
Lets start with the fact that you can start reading from the front or back. That’s a little different. Also the Title of the book is quite interesting in itself. When ever I get a book I always try to understand the Title. You know is there a hidden meaning?Does it refer to a particular part of the book? A particular person?
So we have 337 pages in the book. There is also 337 chapters in the book(Kind of)—>
I really did enjoy 337. the author M Jonathan LEE has a very unique writing style.He just keeps teasing you a mystery that may or may not be a mystery. I do not remember ever seeing a book like this before . As an example I especially like the way he gets his point across on page 133 about silence.
Written mostly in the first person point of few. The writer is very descriptive. By the end of the book you feel you know Sam inside and out. As he contemplates his life.His Family relations.As he remembers the few good times in his life,the bad times.How he feels about his Brother,His Dad. His Gramma. Mum and Sara.But then again Maybe not! but then again like Sam says.”You should always remove the mask and look beneath before making a judgement about anything. Because remember this…
NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS!
This is one of those books you want to reread to see what you missed. Its like a movie that you see something new every time you watch it.Those little things you think might are just filler but they have more to do with the story than you thought.
The double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.
337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.Please note The double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.
Q&A with M Jonathan Lee for Book Room Reviews
Where or how did you come up with the idea for this 337 ?
When I was sitting with my grandmother in her final week, all the rest of my family were on holiday it was only me sitting beside her in the hospital for many hours. I started talking to her about our family history and things from the past because I realised that this was the last time we’d ever get the opportunity before her knowledge would be lost forever. Then I wondered… what would happen if there was some kind of family secret? I sat and wrote notes while I was there for 8 hours at a time, I felt like I should capture the moment.
When you sit down to write do you have an idea where you are going or does it just happen as you’re sitting there?
I usually know the final sentence and I always have a summary paragraph which is no more than four sentences which describes the whole story. Then I would choose two or three main protagonists and make it up as I go along. The Amazon synopsis for 337 is pretty much what I had written from the beginning.
What was your favorite chapter of 337 to write and why?
I really liked pulling together what everyone thinks of Sam’s little brother, Tom “the drug addict”. From the beginning, readers are given bad press about Tom – how he’s sort of a loser and a waste of space – and then as the story goes along it becomes clear how he fell down that kind of hole, garden hole included.
What is your favorite quote from a book of fiction?
On that vein who would be your favorite Author? What writers influenced you?
My favourite book of all time, by some distance, is Roald Dahl’s Unexpected Tales.
What five words describes M Jonathan Lee ?
Because of various life events which have happened to me, I know the answer to this one! About four years ago I went to a psychotherapist and they asked me to get friends and family to write down five words to describe myself. Their words were: caring, sensitive, humourous, anxious and positive. They weren’t far off matching up with what I thought of myself.
What if any project are you working on now? (go ahead promote away!)
Currently, I’m working on Surkhull Bay/Cove… the name is a work in progress! A story of two completely different boys in their early teens who spend the summer at Surkhull Bay where everything is not as it seems. As the story goes on, we learn about why they are the way they are and the narrative comes full surkhull- sorry, circle. Maybe that’s a little teaser? Who knows…
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
An Amazon review for The Radio. It goes on for ages, ranting about everything! One particular comment that sticks in my mind is when they assert that I should have done more research into how losing someone to suicide can affect the family. What they didn’t know was that I wrote The Radio after my own brother took his own life. While my knowledge of the subject is only qualified by experience, it does mean that I kind of challenge people who say I don’t know what I’m talking about. I use that review in my talks now.
What has been the best compliment?
Every single one of them! But those from any of the Sunday Times Best Sellers group are special. When somebody who has sold a lot more books than you tells you they enjoyed your book, that’s the best feeling!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Most people ask “what happens next?” And I don’t think people realise that I don’t know. I never think about what happens next!
What do you think makes a good story?
Characters. And the rhythm of the story is vital, it’s like a symphony. It sometimes feels as though I’m writing music. How all the words flow and sometimes collide with each other. Rhythm is what makes you keep turning the page.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I spend an inordinate length of time watching films and reading. Always looking for stories.
How about a snippet from your book that will hook a prospective reader and make them want to read your book? [EXTRACT]
“It is the sound of my phone vibrating that wakes me from the dream about my mother and a picnic that happened almost exactly twenty-five years ago. I have had the same dream so many times that I have been able to pinpoint every moment of the day that the final picnic took place. In some ways it was easy to do. After all, I never saw my mother again after that day. You don’t forget the details of days as significant as that.”
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
All you need is a keyboard. I mean, you could handwrite if you really wanted to make life difficult for yourself but, for me, computers all the way.
How did you get into writing? Is this what you always wanted to do?
I first got into writing when I was at school, aged 11. For an English class, I’d written an adventure story where an explorer had to find his way through a jungle to find his friend. On the last page, a pygmy hidden in the trees shoots a blow-dart at him and he dies. When my teacher read it, she went ballistic telling me that I couldn’t just kill off the lead character! From that moment on, I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to do: write books that broke the rules.