Patrick Blackburn’s debut novel is clearly a work of semi-autobiographical fiction. It’s impossible to say how much of it is true- is this a memoir with the names changed? I am quite sure Blackburn had his heart broken in a very similar style. I’m not just intuiting this; I have actually spoken to the author. Maybe he’ll do an interview on this blog and we can explore the subject further. That blurry line between truth and fiction is endlessly fascinating to me and one that I play with in my own writing.
Cupid Missed is advertised as a story of a break-up told from the male perspective. The claim is that he didn’t see it coming. Actually, though, he did see it coming – but that doesn’t keep him from falling apart.
The book opens with Matthew trying to get anxiety medication from his doctor. It’s post-break-up and he’s a mess. The voice here is the best part of the story. It’s brutally honest and he speaks directly to the reader. You’re immediately on his side and feeling for him even with his sometimes irrational behavior. (He pretty much cyber stalks the new boyfriend.) You find yourself shaking your head at many of the things he does, but at the same time, you understand.
The first half is fast-paced and hilarious- in a dark humor kind of way. The second half is a bit slower. He goes traveling through Europe to clear his head and the focus is much more on traveling and almost reads as a guide-book, reviews of airlines, restaurants, books and bands included. This does mimic a shift in the narrator’s mind. His confessional, self-conscious style reminded me of Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
The final chapter written one year later seems to provide the kind of distance required for Matthew to make those important discoveries that can only come with time. Closure. Anyone who has gone through a difficult break-up can relate to this journey.