"The Tick and the Tock of the Crocodile Clock" by Kenny Boyle is by turns funny, charming and thought-provoking. If I had to encapsulate the book in just three words, they would be "different"; "memorable" and "outstanding". Of course there's a lot of overlap there: it's memorable because it's outstanding and different; it's outstanding because it's memorable and... well, you get the idea.
So, how to give you a flavour of the book without spoiling anything? The publisher's blurb is a good starting point:
"An aspiring writer from the Southside of Glasgow, Wendy is in a rut. She tries to brighten her call-centre job by shoehorning as many long words as possible into conversations with customers. But her manager isn't amused by that and, after a public dressing-down, Wendy walks out. Jobless and depressed, she finds consolation in a surprise friendship with another disgruntled ex-colleague, wild-child painter Cat, who encourages her to live more dangerously. It’s just what Wendy needs and it’s also brilliant for her creative juices. But a black cloud is about to overshadow this new-found liberation, as well as to put Wendy on the wrong side of the law. Fresh, insightful and funny, as well as unflinchingly honest about the tougher side of life, Kenny Boyle’s debut novel takes us deep into the psyche of a likeable misfit who treads a fine line between reality and fantasy – and just wants the world to see her true self."
The central characters are beautifully drawn and highly believable and the story has been crafted in a way that keeps you guessing. This is partly through the use of artful time-shifting, and partly through the use of entire chapters which Wendy then cheerfully admits at the beginning the the next one are not true, instead turning significant events on their head or just recounting Wendy's own personal origin myth.
Read this book: you won't regret it.