Excerpt from Man and Boy by Tony Parsons, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Man and Boy

by Tony Parsons

Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 340 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2002, 340 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One

Some situations to avoid when preparing for your all-important, finally-I-am-fully-grown thirtieth birthday.

Having a one night stand with a colleague from work.
The rash purchase of luxury items you can’t afford.
Being left by your wife.
Losing your job.
Suddenly becoming a single parent.
If you are coming up to thirty, whatever you do, don’t do any of that.
It will fuck up your whole day.



Thirty should be when you think—these are my golden years, these are my salad days, the best is yet to come and all that old crap.

You are still young enough to stay up all night, but you are old enough to have a credit card. All the uncertainties and poverty of your teens and twenties are finally over—and good riddance to the lot of them—but the sap is still rising.

Thirty should be a good birthday. One of the best.

But how to celebrate reaching the big three-oh? With a collection of laughing single friends in some intimate bar or restaurant? Or surrounded by a loving wife and adoring small children in the bosom of the family home? There has to be a good way of turning thirty. Perhaps they are all good ways.

All my images of this particular birthday seemed derived from some glossy American sitcom. When I thought of turning thirty, I thought of attractive thirty-nothing marrieds fooling around like teens in heat while in the background a gurgling baby crawls across some polished parquet floor, or I saw a circle of good-looking, wisecracking friends drinking latte and showing off their impressive knitwear while wryly bemoaning the dating game. That was my problem. When I thought of turning thirty, I thought of somebody else’s life.

But that’s what thirty should be—grown-up without being disappointed, settled without being complacent, worldly wise but not so worldly wise that you feel like chucking yourself under a train. The time of your life.

By thirty you have finally realized that you are not going to live forever, of course. But surely that should only make the laughing, latte-drinking present taste even sweeter? You shouldn’t let your inevitable death put a damper on things. Don’t let the long, slow slide to the grave get in the way of a good time.

Whether you are enjoying the last few years of unmarried freedom or you have recently moved on to a more adult, more committed way of life with someone you love, it's difficult to imagine a truly awful way of turning thirty.

But I managed to find one somehow.

The car smelled like somebody else’s life. Like freedom.

It was parked right in the window of the showroom, a wedge-shaped sports car that, even with its top off, looked as sleek and compact as a muscle.

Naturally it was red—a corny, testosterone-stuffed red. When I was a little bit younger, such blatant macho corn would have made me sneer, or snigger, or puke, or all of the above.

But now I found that it didn’t bother me at all. A bit of testosterone-stuffed corn seemed to be just what I was looking for at this stage of my life.

I’m not really the kind of man who knows what cars are called, but I had made it my business—furtively lingering over the ads in glossy magazines—to find out the handle of this particular hot little number. Yes, it’s true. Our eyes had met before.

But its name didn’t really matter. I just loved the way it looked. And that smell. Above all, that smell. That anything-can-happen smell. What was it about that smell?

Among the perfume of leather, rubber and all those yards of freshly sprayed steel, you could smell a heartbreaking newness, a newness so shocking that it almost overwhelmed me. This newness intimated another world that was limitless and free, an open road leading to all the unruined days of the future. Somewhere they had never heard of traffic cones or physical decay or my thirtieth birthday.

Copyright Tony Parsons, 1999. All rights reserved. Reproduced by the permission of the publisher, Source Books.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Be sincere, be brief, be seated

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -