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The Art of Listening by Paul A. Mendelson

August 6, 2019

 

The Blurb

 

In this intriguing and occasionally surreal volume of novellas and shorter fiction, BAFTA-nominated screenwriter and acclaimed novelist Paul A. Mendelson explores with humour and pathos how our words make us so vulnerably human. 

A volunteer on a helpline hears a voice at the other end that changes her world forever... 

A failing scriptwriter tries to sell his mad movie to a famous director by pretending it s the story of his life... 

A proud Scotsman wakes up after a mild stroke to discover he has turned English... 

A middle-aged man whose young father died before he was born meets his long lost parent in a dusty attic... 

A husband leaves his wife forever until he realises he has left his precious watch behind... 

Praise for The Art of Listening: 

Compelling! Stories that move seamlessly from warm humour to unexpected and often disconcerting denouements. David Lister, The Independent 

Paul A. Mendelson s humorous and touching stories are a joy to read. He actually made me laugh out loud! Leigh Russell, million book selling crime writer 

Mendelson has done it again! The Art of Listening is laugh out loud funny, entertaining and surprisingly moving. Karol Griffiths, script editor (Coen Brothers, Warners, BBC) and author of The Art of Script Editing 

Makes the art of reading these stories enormous fun... Paul s humanity leaps from the pages. His comedy roots are apparent too. Geoffrey Sax, film and TV director​.

 

About Paul A. Mendelson

 

 

Paul A. Mendelson is unusual in that he has never been a lumberjack or a coal-heaver. He began working-life, after Cambridge, as a trainee solicitor. One particular case caused him abruptly to change direction and he spent several happy years writing commercials for everything from Heinz Spaghetti to Don't Drink and Drive. 

A chance meeting with the legendary film director Nic Roeg and undisputed Queen of drama Verity Lambert soon persuaded him that 30-minutes was more fun than 30-seconds. His first BBC comedy series 'May to December' ran for six series and won him his first BAFTA nomination. He followed this with the hugely popular 'So Haunt Me' and his biggest hit 'My Hero', starring Ardal O'Hanlon as the hapless Thermoman. Paul also writes acclaimed drama ('Losing It' - Martin Clunes - ITV) and many original plays and dramatisations for BBC Radio 4. ('The African Queen' starring Toby Jones). He is currently developing several feature films. 

His first novel 'In the Matter of Isabel', inspired by the legal case that changed his career, has been widely praised. ('A wonderfully funny debut novel' David Lister, The Independent). It was bought by a major Hollywood producer within a week of publication. His scripted version now has an A-list cast and director attached. His first novel for children 'Losing Arthur' (Funny, exciting, a wellspring of imagination' Jamie Rix. 'Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids') is in development with a Hollywood animation studio. His second novel for children 'The Funnies' will be published February 2020.

Paul's most recent novel 'A Meeting in Seville', was inspired by his and his wife's return exactly thirty years later to the very place they honeymooned. He wondered - what if we meet our younger, honeymooning selves here? The rest is - well, not history. But romance, intrigue, magic and mystery.

Paul's latest book 'The Art of Listening' is a collection of novellas and short stories, each briefly prefaced by the inspiration that sparked it. Every reader and reviewer so far has called it 'laugh out loud funny' but also 'Compelling' (The Independent) and touching and surprising.

Paul is married and lives in North London. He has two daughters and four grandchildren and is perpetually exhausted.​

 

My Review

 

The Art of Listening is a collection of novellas and short stories from twice BAFTA-nominated writer Paul A. Mendelson. Each story was a unique delight to read, more pleasurable than a luxury box of handmade chocolates with none of the calories.
'Based On A True Story', is about Pete, a failing scriptwriter and his long-suffering wife who find their hotel on their cheap package getaway to Sorrento is double-booked and fortuitously are upgraded to an expensive mountain lodge, at no extra cost. They meet a film producer known for making true-life dramas, hence Pete embarks on a trail of deception, depicting both him and his wife as the main characters from his script. The outcome is hilarious, and I literally laughed out loud.
'The Art of Listening', the title of the second story and indeed the title of the book, is about a woman who secretly gives her time on a Wednesday evening to a telephone helpline, which anonymously supports people in despair. Her husband calls the helpline and doesn't know that he is speaking to his wife, which is the start of a very tricky situation.
'The Watch', is about a man who leaves his wife but leaves his 'United Supporters' watch behind. 
'Better Late' is my personal favourite. David Ramsden, an auctioneer in his 40's is haunted by the ghost of a young man in his 20's who turns out to be David's father who was killed in a motorbike accident two months before David was born. David cannot get rid of this annoying ghost who will not leave his side. I enjoyed this story so much.
'Missing' is the sad tale of a man who introduces a dog into the home after his wife has suffered her third miscarriage.
'Sounding Off' is about a most eloquent speaker, Dr. Sandy Robertson, headmaster and broadcaster, noted for his recitals of Robert Burns, suffers a mild stroke and loses his distinguished Scottish accent for a second-rate English voice. The poor man is so traumatised because he fears he is becoming English.
The final story, 'The Perfect Murder' cleverly told through a series of letters from a script-editing company to the writer. 
The whole book has been a perfect summer read which I highly recommend and I will also buy this same book again for a gift to a family member.

 

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