The Greatest Novel Ever Written
March 4, 2014

The Greatest Novel Ever Written

Okay, maybe not quite the greatest novel ever written. But I am very happy to announce that I have just released my first novel, Three Little Boys, which is available for purchase on

It’s a story about the difficulties of finding our path, particularly at certain ages, when the world seems to offer so many choices. It’s also about travel, music and friendship, and about how men are ridiculous, in some cases so much so that they can’t even be trusted to take care of a hamster…

Beyond that, I’ll just give a sample, and hope you like it!

On a beach in India, one of the central characters, Will (34), experiences one more in a long line of awkward romantic encounters, as he talks to a cute German girl he has recently met:

The girl sat down at Will’s table, replacing her boyfriend there because their stuff was there. She looked at Will and smiled very briefly, but did nothing except roll and light a cigarette. Will concluded he wouldn’t be talking to many girls like this back home, so he may as well have a go.

‘Where are you from?’ he asked her.

She turned to look at him with an expression that said I just knew you’d have to try and talk to me.


‘I’m British.’

‘Ya? I like British music,’ she said lazily, still not appearing to invite conversation.

‘Oh yeah, who do you like?’ Will asked anyway.

‘I love Marianne Faithfull.’ She was suddenly enthusiastic and turning to him, rolling her shoulders. The name had obviously got her going. She apparently loved Marianne Faithful so much she either wanted to have sex with her or eat her.

‘What albums did you listen to on your journey here?’ she asked him.

Great question. Especially since it implies that he should listen to albums, despite the modern propensity to just flick about between tracks and set up playlists and not properly listen to albums anymore. Realizing that he loved that implication, but also that he had in fact listened to a playlist on the way here, he just made up an album he had listen to from ones he was generally enjoying at the moment.

‘To be honest, I like a lot of American music. I’m enjoying Running on Empty by Jackson Browne just now,’ Will told her, while thinking: he wrote Take it Easy by The Eagles did you know that, tell her he wrote Take it Easy by The Eagles, that’s an interesting fact not many people know that, don’t tell her that it’s not interesting, don’t mention The Eagles she’ll think you’re 90. He then continued: ‘Just because it has an historical, and historic, feel to it. It’s about life on the road as a musician, little stories as well as the broader themes, and is from a time when the huge stadium rock tours were peaking – the late 70s. 1977, to be precise’


At this point, her fella sat down with them. He had caught the end of the conversation:

‘That the year you left high school, mate?’ he asked Will, smirking.

‘Nah, we were just talking about albums.’

‘Yeah? I’ll tell you a seminal album,’ he said, wagging his finger. ‘Californication by Red Hot Chilli Peppers.’

‘That’s more like seminal discharge,’ Will stated, the comment out before he’d sanctioned it in his head. The girl laughed. Will was delighted. She was laughing with him, at her boyfriend, and at a joke which was based on quite an obscure word-play from a foreign language. Tremendous.

Later, when the guy, who turned out not to be her boyfriend, has disappeared:

These kinds of experiences with these kinds of girls are what lives and memories are made of, Will realized. Screw climbing Everest or inventing the sink or leading the British to victory in some competition that men think is important, like a war or the 4×400 metres relay. This is what he wanted to be remembered for.

Always a tough one, knowing how to go in for a kiss. Americans seem to ask, or sort of announce it. Can I kiss you now? Or I really wanna kiss you now, or I’ll donate my ball sack to a homeless man to use as a tobacco pouch just to spend one moment on your lips, or some such. The British don’t really do that. They generally just grab the head from behind and lock it to their lips using hand and mouth as a sort of vice.

Neither option seems that appropriate, Will thought. Shit, maybe I should just leave it. I can live without kissing a glorious girl in the commanding heat of the Sub-Continent on the shores of the Arabian Sea. All I really need is tea and newspapers. Hang on- what am I talking about? At that point, Lena made the decision for him. She touched his face with one hand, the palm on his left cheek and her thumb on the corner of his lips, and pressed her lips softly but firmly onto his. She made a tiny, excited noise as they opened their mouths to kiss more deeply, and Will closed his eyes, trying to perform, remember, and relax all at the same time.

Image Credit: John Hopton

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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