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Jolly Lad The Audiobook Out Now
John Doran , March 31st, 2016 08:09

John Doran's Jolly Lad, the audiobook is out now. You can pick up a copy from Audible. Otherwise Amazon and iTunes also have it. Full of the joys of Spring, let's hear from chuckles himself about why he decided to record an audiobook, just months after declaring that writing the very same book had been "literally the worst thing that ever happened to me".

The view of an unusually vivid sunset, as seen out of my good friend (and tQ writer) John Tatlock's seventh storey window in Manchester last November, was the only pleasant thing to happen both he and I during the abysmal 11 days it took us to record this wretched fucking albatross of an audiobook.

No one asked us to do it. Not even my mum wanted to hear me read it. So fuck knows what I was thinking, when I first suggested the venture. Sunsets not withstanding, the whole venture went south almost immediately. Within eight hours of arriving in Manchester I got so ill I nearly had to go to hospital; I lost my voice on the second day; what should have been a three day job took nearly a fortnight; and to cap it all John T - who was recording and producing the monstrosity - suffered third degree burns during a severe bacon cooking incident. I have never seen him so angry in the 30 years I have known him as he was on day eight of the session and I'm including the time our mate Curley set fire to his really nice coat and pretended that burglars did it.

I am not ashamed to say both tears and blood were spilled in his flat during those dark, dark days and nights... and yet here we are. Proud producers of a book whose very artwork rouses me to violent anger and thrusts me into what can only be described as "hellish PTSD".

As John T said to me at the end of the experience: "That was fucking terrible. Let's never do anything like it ever again." (Words not spoken by either of us since the ill advised 'Trout Mask Replica on acid' night in St Helens during the dying days of the 1980s.) Another thing he said was: "I've recorded lots of bands. Some of them were drunk, some of them were on speed, a lot of them were on acid, and one of them was on all three, but none of those experiences was anywhere near as bad as recording your book."

The only good thing to happen during the recording of the audiobook.

And now, that the preamble is out of the way, I guess I should try and sell you a copy.

So, the first thing I should say is, it is, by its nature, a "characterful" recording. If it sounds at any point like I am about to burst into tears... well, that's because I am.

And if you hear a rattling explosive-like sound in the background - just ask yourself, is it a train pulling into nearby Victoria Station or is it Mr Tatlock coughing up part of his lung lining with a pillow over his face? I'll leave it up to your imagination.

For those of you who don't know, Jolly Lad is an audiobook about the recovery from alcoholism, habitual drug use and mental illness. Narrated by the author (me), it also concerns the healing power of music, how memory defines us, the redemption offered by fatherhood and what it means to be working class.

It is an ‘anti-misery memoir’. As I said last year: “I was determined not to write a ‘my drink and drug hell’ kind of book for several reasons – the main one being that I had, for the most part, a really good time drinking.”

Instead the book is about what happens after the drink has gone. It is about gentrification; being diagnosed bipolar; attending Alcoholics Anonymous; living in a block of flats on a housing estate in London; the psychological damage done by psychedelic drugs; depression; DJing; factory work; friendship; growing old; hallucinations; street violence and obsessive behaviour – especially regarding music and art.

This ten and a half hour long sonic version also contains bonus material - a 60 minute discussion between the author and Kjetil Nernes of Arabrot about the publication of the book and the highs and lows of the 31 date reading tour that followed…

The author about to start recording on day one, approximately seven hours before everything went wrong

The book originally came out last June on Strange Attractor and has since garnered a lot of praise...

“A wonderful tale… very funny.” The Independent

“This is the work of a real writer propelled by that most vital of properties, self-doubt.” Jonathan Meades

"Makes Withnail & I look like Little House On The Prairie." Caitlin Moran

"Channels the vitality of Down And Out In Paris And London... This is a brave and vital voice, emerging." Rick Holland

“[An] endlessly compelling memoir... the prose is so vivid as to be cinematic… This is a stirring, moving tale, carved out of a cruelly formless world.” Musa Okwonga, The Huff Post

“Staggeringly poetic at times and steeped in deep truth about what it was, and is, to be a music nut in the 80s, 90s and the now…” Simon Price

“Jolly Lad details [Doran’s] journey with unflinching honesty: the masking of fear, the circuitous thinking, the physicality of withdrawal. It’s a startling guide to self-destruction… hilarious yet insightful.” Cian Traynor, The Irish Times

“The best book I’ve read about recovery since John Healy’s magnificently scalding The Grass Arena. Order it now.” Wyndham Wallace

“This book is one of the great first person narratives of recent times.” Louder Than War

“A pugnacious account of the descent into addiction.” The New Statesman

“As compelling as it is poetic.” The Times Higher Education

“A fucked-up, horrible, brilliant, hilarious tale.” 3AM Magazine

“Akin to some MR James ghost story; the lulls, the reasoning, the relief before the unveiling; all the while the reader being slowly marinated on a spit.” Incendiary Magazine

“Every page is studded with bluntly brilliant prose… Can't recommend it highly enough.” David Stubbs

John Doran has already started on his next book, an update of Dorian Gray. The book is a novel twist on the Oscar Wilde classic; both the protagonist and the portrait he keeps in his attic look completely fucked. Thanks to the super-talented Tida Bradshaw.

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