Readers’ comments

There follows a selection – which will be updated regularly – of readers’ comments on SNUG. These comments have been made through email to the author, or posted on Facebook or Amazon or Goodreads, and so on. (The newest ones are towards the end). Inevitably – to begin with – some of the commentators are known to me, as friends or acquaintances or at least people with whom I’m on nodding terms. Some of them I have never met, and others I see regularly. But throughout, I have ensured that these are genuine comments, not ‘favours’.  Comments made by some of the very few publishers and UK agents who have read SNUG and rejected it are also included here (at the end). Comments from reviewers and interviewers will appear in the Press section only.


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 From Martin Smith, screenwriter; June, 2012, via email:

‘Just wanted to drop you a quick note about ‘Snug’. Took it to Italy with me and have really been enjoying it. It’s fantastic! Unfortunately I only took half the book with me and was really keen to get back to read the rest. Should have it finished in the next couple of days and will get back to you. But just wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying it and been gripped by the story.
 *
Finished SNUG this morning. Wow, there really is so much to like about the novel. Great writing aside, there were so many fantastic developments and ideas at work and, yes, it really is fucking original. I loved the whole tone and feel of ‘Progress Report’. You really captured an African sensibility and the whole scene where he clambers down a rope ladder to the caves where the Africans are hiding was brilliant. It was a magical moment and I was totally there. Equally, ‘I’m not a..’ was strong and the way Whitebone and the wpc end up torturing the street sweeper was shocking and yet compelling in its strange mixture or hatred, cruelty and sadism. ‘I was Twelve’ took a little while to grab me but once it was up and running I was hooked – especially by the sense that this kid was different and, therefore, what was he going to do? What was his story going to be? And, indeed, he really is different at the end. Also, liked the fact that having slept with the African teenager she’s changed as an adult and believes ‘they’ are different to us. Her rebellious teenage experience didn’t run deep and was fickle at heart. Ironically, it’s all much more deeply felt by the boy.And, yes, one of the things that makes it such a compelling read is your plotting and the twists and turns – especially in the first half of the novel. For example, loved the way you have everyone at the Arab’s house, we can hear the man’s children being tortured then suddenly out walk African’s with Whitebone and culprits with rope noose round their necks. It’s a brilliant turn, does away with having to explain how it happened and we’re just hooked.’
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There follows a selection of readers’ comments taken directly from the Amazon UK website:

4.0 out of 5 stars Tom Sharpe On Acid, 28 Jun 2013
By
BI Leonard (Poole, Dorset, GB) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: SNUG (Kindle Edition)

SNUG is told from three different points of view – I Was Twelve, Log Of Progress, I’m Not A…. This novel by accomplished author Matthew Tree, reads a bit like Tom Sharpe on acid. The backdrop is a 1970s corner of Albion and the characters are a motley bunch drawn together by circumstance. The juxtaposition of cosy English scenes and dark moments make this an interesting, but sometimes uncomfortable read. Tree normally writes in the Catalan of his adopted home, nevertheless he immerses himself in the deep waters of the English language like a man escaping after several months in the desert. It makes me wonder why he does not write in English more often. Looking for something different to read? You’ve found it here.

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 18 Jun 2013
 
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

A wonderful novel which is innovative and captivating. It touches on so many aspects of society such as the callousness of imperialism, the fickleness of human nature, and the “snugness” of white society back in 1974, although some things may never change!
The pace is gripping as the author successfully presents different viewpoints thanks to a host of rich, interesting characters and a perfect representation of the context in which they live.The setting of the story is so incredibly lifelike thanks to the writer’s command of language and insight, and the plot unfolds in a way that is completely unpredictable and a delight to read, although at times a little disturbing but also witty and moving. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading top-quality literature which provides them with lots of food for thought.

 
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating read, 15 Jun 2013
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

I found this book difficult to put down… It had me transfixed from start to end, and then thinking about it after I had finished. There are many descriptions from the book that are still swirling about in my mind several weeks after finishing. A captivating read.

5.0 out of 5 stars nice work, 24 May 2013
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

I fully endorse the reports and ratings posted by Mart and E. Bosch. Tree, resident for many years in Barcelona, has established a very substantial reputation as a writer in Catalan. I am at a loss to understand why his attempt, now, to make his mark with the english-language readership has obliged him to resort to digital publication under the imprint of his literary agents. Surely there is a commissioning editor (or enterprising old-style publisher)out there who can recognise his talent as a compelling story-teller with a penetrating view of the contemporary world.

 
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating!, 9 May 2013
 
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

Quite simply, I found this a delightfully unusual novel and wonderfully told. Set in stuffy 1970’s England and with a collection of narrators, some comic book figures, others more complex, Snug genuinely took me by surprise. The specific take on 1970’s England evoked shades of Dennis Potter, combined with an unexpected plot and subject matter. The novel felt like an adventurous journey through the author’s imagination. It conjures up memories of English afternoon teas and places them alongside events that will turn this smug little world upside down. The writing, imagery, plot and voices of the characters carry you along at a cracking pace. It’s a highly imaginative work and unlike anything I’ve read lately. Couldn’t put it down and finished reading it in the early hours – always a good sign!

 
4.0 out of 5 stars A good novel, 6 May 2013
By
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

Snug is a very ambitious novel. It begins as a gentle story about memories and childhood’s challenges and slowly turns into a Kafkian episode, though, it keeps a grotesque amusing humour all the way through. Tree manages to awake the often, dormant placidity of the reader when faced with the topic of African immigrants, by slapping him/her with its crude reality.

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From Jordi Puntí, Catalan author of the award-winning novel ‘Lost Luggage’ (Short Books, 2013); April of 2013, via email:

‘Yesterday I finished reading ‘Snug’.  I practically read it in one go, in four sessions, one for each part..

Allow me to congratulate you, first of all, for this novel. It struck me as being an enviable tour de force, which entertained me and gripped me all the way through, and the tension of the story never dropped. I would almost say concern, rather than tension. And it also made me think, fo course. I thought that the structure you’ve used, so multi-sided, and with changes in points of view, makes the narrative more agile, more and more readable, even though at some meoments – you can imagine which ones – I read it with my heart in my mouth. Ialso liked the style of the different characters, the changes of voice, the lexical push-ups which both increase detail and help to define the cvharcters. All this works to perfection.

I’ll give you three examples of your literary skill which I especially liked: the moment of surprise, at the beginning, when we identify the voice of ‘I’m not a’ as Doctor Whitebone; I also especially liked the moment when Lucy sees the crippled veterans playing football on the sand; above all I think it is narratively speaking just right to finish the fourth part with the voice of the narrator of ‘I was Twelve’, years alter. The passing of time gives a sense of globalness to the story and makes it more far-reaching.’

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From Alan Yates, professor of Hispanic Studies at Sheffield University; May of  2013, via email:

‘last night i romped through to the end of your swiftian dystopia.
the fact that i was so carried along by the twists and turns, shifts and surprises of the whole things is first demonstration for me that you’ve produced a good novel, living up to expectations created by the plaudits on the back cover.
the focal perspective of bwsbn and its complexities works very well. lucy too is a fine creation. (eileen and roger, on the other hand, are mere extras, less substantial even than the intriguing winston). i expected (and wanted) to know more about what became of dr. whitebone: an easy target, ok, but one which you hit to great effect.  the atmosphere in that household is extremely well depicted.
the apocalyptic final twist in the plot is effective both in dramatic terms and also in opening onto the final soliloquy.
the whole thing deftly gets inside the skin of the racist wasp psychology of the british establishment from the starting point of the family seaside holiday.
congratulations, and sincere thanks for sending the book to me.
i can’t understand why it hasn’t excited more interest from uk publishers. i know that the market and the industry itself are crisis-ridden, but i would have expected you to have had more sympathetic attention from commissioning editors. is it perhaps that your agents are aiming just at the big houses, without casting wider among some smaller ones who are more innovative, imaginative and less risk averse? this is the only possible explanation that occurs to me. a ‘loss leader’ with a specialist fiction house might be the way to getting a foot inside the mystifying world of the transatlantic market. if eva can get our ‘dark vales’ into the lists, there must be somebody out there who can appreciate what you have to offer as an original and engaging english novelist.
these are just a few immediate and hasty observations. i plan to lend the book to a good friend, a voracious reader and a person whose judgement i trust 100% on everything, from mountaineering to real life. when we’ve conferred, i’ll report back to you.
meanwhile i’ll wang a quick ‘goodread’ comment to google.
thanks, and congratulations, again.
keep up the good work.’
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From Ryan Chandler, editor of the English language literary magazine Barcelona INK; April of 2013, via email:
‘I finished your book in two days – a real page-turner.  Well done!  Let’s hope someone picks it up, I think if you had the collaboration of the kind of editor who works at Faber/Little Brown etc you’d be looking at a real classic.’
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From Karl Lewkowicz, musician, composer and lyricist, and author of the musical ‘Goodbye, Barcelona’; January of 2013, via email:
‘It’s a stunningly original and audacious construct;  an utterly compelling, uncompromising, visceral and unflinching look at racism, anti-semitism and the legacy of colonialism., The book bewitches the reader with it’s intoxicating and saucy concoction, like a mix of a carry on film and the Wicker man or Lord of the Flies, mixed with a soupcon of The Famous Five, elements of an Ealing comedy and some Monty Python thrown in for good measure. The novel conjures up so accurately a whole intricate world with it’s intrinsic language, and the aching need to escape the dull, leaden, oppressive greyness of the period.
The adult protagonists are drawn with a deft accuracy and the resultant emotional impact of a heat seeking missile. With an uncanny insight and sensitivity we are also drawn into the world of a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl,  with it’s fleeting shadows, consuming  infatuations and yearning expectation.

Throughout the novel the writing is embued with a unique, intimate and forensic detail. The fascination of Snug, is that it places three utterly disparate groups together, and takes a wry sardonic look at how they react to one another as events unfold; like a finely measured chemistry experiment in combustion.

It’s an inspired ploy to use the first person for all 4 protagonists; by scratching and then digging deep into the psyche of each one, using their own inimitable voice, we get to know and feel the truth of each character, in all it’s myriad degrees of beauty or ugliness. Consequently we gain an insight into each of their feelings and perceptions; and in turn to see something of ourselves in each of them.The brazen use of the vernacular reminds me of some of Stephen Berkoff’s plays such as East, overt and unreconstructed, or the dark black farce of Joe Orton’s Loot. I found the torture scene in the prison cell gruelling, harrowing and almost unbearable (as no doubt it was intended) but in context how else could the true horror implicit in the use of the word ‘racism’ be conveyed? But more then just a daring book, it is touching, deeply moving and very funny.’

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There follow two more Amazon reviews, this time from the US site.
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful – a must read! July 21, 2013
Format:Paperback
SNUG is, from start to finish, a powerful novel. It evokes a diverse range of emotions, and does an outstanding job of exposing the mentality of “civilized” xenophobic ignorance that is at the heart of – and generated by – colonialism. A fascinating, moving and thought-provoking book, which I highly recommend!
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable..it made me late for work! April 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I’ve just had the fun of reading SNUG, I couldn’t put it down and ended up late for work twice!
Though it’s his first English novel Matthew is author of 10 popular novels in Catalan, and it shows.
The writing is just brilliant, he’s caught the language, mannerisms and prejudices perfectly, and I felt right inside the psyche of the various narrators, only to find them much too real, as the tension and terror takes over.
A tale of kids on holiday turns into much much more… half way through I realised I was reading a shocking exposé of little England, of the continuing genocidal crimes against Africa and the Africans and the deep institutionalised racism and sadism that made the Empire function.
SNUG is entertaining and amazing, I recommend it!

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From Gary Gibson, a teacher and journalist based in Mataró, Catalonia; in June of 2013, via email:

‘I finally finished Snug yesterday and thought it was absolutely FANTASTIC! I mean BRILLIANT!

I loved every word of it and thought it really captured the callousness of imperialism and the fickleness of human nature…and many other things.

I loved the way the story unfolded and the “denouement” – I say that as I see you speak French!

A brilliant read and I’ll be writing a review for Amazon once I think of something good enough to do it justice.

Best wishes and congratulations

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From Màrius Serra, a well-known Catalan writer and enigmatist; December of 2011, via email:

‘It [SNUG] filled me with enthusiasm. The expectations created at the start, are met as the novel travels into the future. It has a je-sais-quoi of an entire created world, which is extremely attractive. The texts published in the local paper [in the novel] make the intentions of the whole thing very clear, but the novel really shines in the personal stories it describes. Your style…is absolutely spot on, agile and economic while still surprising us with unusual turns of phrase…’

 

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A message from a reader, Elaine Jones: 28/9/13, via Facebook:

A really well written book! Thank-you!  Loved the story – it really made me step back and take a look a British society.

 

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From Rosa Maria Clua, another reader, on 30/9/13, via Facebook:

 

Congratulations Matthew Tree, SNUG is wonderful !

 

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From Paul Holdert, a good friend and exceptionally well-read Amsterdammer, 12/04/13, via email:

Finished your book yesterday-night (at 02.00, always a good sign)…It was written so well and it kept me so curious as to where it would all lead, that it qualifies as a real pageturner, it was indeed somewhat unputdownable (love that word and I’m glad I can use it in reference to your book).
I like the way you shift the focus every time: from BWSBN to Jonas Cole and from dr.Whitebone to Lucy. Congratulations with a very good book! I hope it gets picked up because it deserves success and a lot of readers.

 

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This message is from Jacky Dodd in Harpenden, England, via email (13/10/13):

I finished reading SNUG on Thursday and it has really stayed with me and I can’t wait to have a conversation with you in person, but felt I should email right away, it was an amazing read. What a shocking ending (the helicopter part). I’d held off reading the detail on the website but was left seriously wondering if it was all true. I really enjoy your style of writing. The detail, humour, irony and descriptions: Matzo fatso, the balloon of tension farting itself flat, The game Careers – we had that! And the lanes changing to lines as you ascended in the helicopter. Just a few snippets that spring to mind. In my mind I can already see SNUG on the bookshelves, it so deserves to be there.

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This message was received via email on 12/11/13, from James Manresa Paddon, writer and second officer on a rescue vessel in the North Sea.

I finished reading Snug and I can say I enjoyed it very much. Your style is much different from many of the English novels I have read before. I find it very personal, blending the telling of the story with the inner thoughts of the characters in such a way, that one gets to think he has known them personally for years. Each of them breathe in their own way, some transpiring their racism, others their teenage discovery of life and others losing their innocence about the world. I confess at the same time it made me regret not having been more skilled in the language of the country which saw me born. As I said to you one day, although I read a lot in English, I lack the richness of the everyday-slang, the expressions, the sayings and the details that only a complete immersion can provide, as you well know as a brilliant writer in Catalan, an originally foreign language to you. Precisely this was one of the reasons I was so much in to Snug, as it allowed me to “live” in this world of details and words in English I have lacked because of living in Catalonia since I was a kid. It has enlightened me over the richness of the language I ought to know and it has proved you have finally been capable of making it malleable —a condition you declared in the past English seemed to lack— to a surprising extent. Apart from the language (sorry I am not talking about the story, but I enjoy the bricks which it is built with as much as the story itself), the story gripped me from the beginning, I liked especially how you masterly managed  to solve all the apparent difficulties as to give credit to the story, when it is an apparently improbable situation. I believed everything as it had really happened and you also made me look into an Atlas to find out more about Africa and it’s history. Snug abducted me, I found myself thinking about Lucy, Dr Whitebone or the fate of Coldwater Bay mixed with my real day to day worries, I loved the twists and turns of it and I even read on the ship where I work, laying in bed seasick while 10 meters waves were rocking us furiously, unable to let go of the bloody book despite my wretched state. I find it a privilege and a very interesting experience to be able to enjoy the two versions of the same writer, I knew you in Catalan, and now in English. Congratulations, I’ll be waiting for your next one!

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From Mike McCready (CEO of Music Xray, ’21st century A&R’), via YouTube (15/11/13):

Matthew Tree is an incredibly insightful and funny writer. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

 

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A message from a mysterious Glykerion, on Amazon UK (11/12/2013):

5.0 out of 5 stars A Lasting Metaphor, 11 Dec 2013
This review is from: Snug (Paperback)

I read Snug, by Matthew Tree, some 6 months ago and it made a lasting impression on me. It reads like an adventure novel but leaves a lingering impact on a reader. This highly original, deep and innovative book is a true metaphor of our Western civilization as well as the snugness of human nature. I loved the ending, it made me smile!

 

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From Jesús Purroy, biologist at the Barcelona Science Park, via Twitter (9/2/2014):

Just finished ‘Snug’ by @matthewtree. It is Evelyn Waugh on steroids, a pitiless look at casual racism.

 

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This message came in from English novelist Richard Hayden, on 27/02/2014 (via email):

 

At long last I got round to buying and reading SNUG.

First thing, I really loved it, hugely enjoyable (in a very discomforting way), lovingly crafted, technically intriguing and above all, well done, a book with balls of fucking steel! (put that that on the back cover or even the front – I dare you)
You hit the mood, the feel of the 70s really accurately – I remember IofW from family holidays. The 12-year-old’s perspective was toe-curlingly reminiscent of that time. The mixture of innocence (board games, politeness, diffidence) and the blood-lust bred into the bone by comic books and war movies (633 Squadron, The Dambusters – those soundtracks transfixed me long before the Beatles).
The racist Dad, wow. The way events transform a casual, racist boor into a fully-fledged graduate of the Buenos Aires Navy School was shocking (so shocking I didn’t want to credit it as a reader) – you did it unflinchingly. The same with your use of “forbidden” words – no wonder no UK publisher wopuld touch it, too explosive for them. Whata  shame, it could and should be igniting debate – being ignored by mainstream publishers is an honour in your case!
As a novel, the pacing is great, the vicious twists (horribly inevitable though they are), the absence of even a hint of redemption – exactly what it needed. There’s no better sign than when a reader starts to space out the last 50 pages or so to prolong the reading experience.
And that final communique fromn the visitors, that really threw a new perspective on things for me, broadened the whole debate out and made me think how the “african problem” is portrayed in the media.
Bloody good job. A really, truly, good novel.
Next time you’re in the UK or when I’m back in Catalunya in a few weeks, it’d be good to meet up and chew it over a bit more.
Fine book.
Chapeau!

 

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This message was sent by conservationist writer Seamus Shortt (24/04/2014). He refers to BWSBN, the acronym for the Boy Who Shall Be Nameless: the book’s main character:

 

A fine piece of satirical writing against the motherland! It was easy to read as good books should be. Original as I expected – I liked the way the chapters moved from one characters perspective to anothers and back again. Strange how BWSBN is the one who is so torn apart by the final events while Lucy is just matter of fact about things in the end… just the way people are.

 

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This Catalan reader, Susana Aballanet, who enjoys an extraordinary command of English, had this to say about SNUG (20/04/2014, via email):

If I had to define your novel in a few adjectives, I would say SNUG is intense, catchy, engaged and stylistically risky and ambitious. Let me explain. Intense: the plot gradually unfolds an exceptional but believable situation in which the characters are put on the ropes. Catchy: throughout its 441 pages, there isn’t a dull moment, any part the reader could do without, and you always keep the reader’s attention. Engaged: racism and especially the British (and the first world, by extension) disregard of the effects of colonialism, with its still pervading prejudices, drive the novel and you make your point through the protest tone the novel adopts. Stylistically risky and ambitious: you made a bold bet by experimenting with the narrative voice. The multiplicity of narrators provides a detached point of view, and it is a good way to approach the complexity of the issues of racism and colonialism you deal with, without being pretentious.

 

Nevertheless, as I mentioned, I think it is a very risky, although smart, strategy. What I mean is that the multiplicity of narrators implies a very well defined and unique voice of each of the narrators. Maybe the average reader won’t notice, but a picky and close-up reader feels a certain homogeneity in the narrators. It’s true that when it’s Dr. Whitebone’s turn to narrate the story, he uses derogatory terms to refer to the blacks, the Jewish policeman, and the arabic neighbour; but his racism isn’t distilled through any other linguistic element, so if it weren’t for his “insults”, it wouldn’t be so clear that it was him who was talking. With the other narrators, the feeling is similar, you can’t really distinguish the characters’ personalities through their narrative voice. It’s through their acts that their character is shaped, and through their dialogues. In other words, although all the characters’ personalities are well differentiated, the narrative voices of those who narrate aren’t linguistically as much differentiated. I must say, though, that your use of language is excellent. I really liked the richness of vocabulary and the evocative images you use in your descriptions and narration of events. Of course, English not being my mother tongue, I’m not the most entitled to judge all that, but I must confess that in many occasions I had to look up in the dictionary (which either shows how large your vocabulary range is, or it shows how poor mine is). It also stunned me the way you create long elaborate sentences, their syntax being impecable. English being a language of rather short sentences, usually avoiding too many embedded clauses, you seem to go beyond this tendency and expand English syntax’s boundaries. I wonder if that isn’t an influence of your contact with Catalan and Spanish, which you’ve been able to skillfully incorporate to English. Anyway, I enjoyed the book in terms of language style.

 

Regarding the protest and criticism the book embodies, it is undeniably effective on the reader. Many of us are aware of how awful colonialism was, especially in Africa, but after the years (and with the self-imposed politically correct discourse we have all adopted) we have become sort of numb to the consequences of such period in history. So your novel is very effective in a way that the reader realizes that not only the people in Coldwater Bay are snug in their holiday houses, but the reader himself is snug in his 21st century oblivious consciousness of what happened throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. So if what you intended is to raise awareness on the issue, I believe you’ve made your point and you’ve succeeded in your plan. The only remark I might dare to make on this matter is that, although throughout the novel the protest is subtle and coveyed through the characters and the plot, there is a moment of weakness towards the end when I could see too much of the author making his claims. I’m referring to the last issue of the Coldwater Bay newspaper, where there is a too explicit account of the history and effects of colonialism and it is not very believable that the african leader who writes it makes such a speech, because to me it sounds too much as something a concerned and ashamed (of his ancestors, of course) white would say. It is just a problem of verisimilitude, for it somehow suggests an attempt of the author to convey a certain ideology, which diminishes the distancing from the issue you had achieved so far. Of course, it is just a short passage, so I guess that it isn’t a big deal after all (maybe just me overinterpreting things).

 

Finally, I would like to praise the way you end up the novel. I think that after all what you unfold throughout the 400 pages, it is very hard not to leave loose ends, and in your case I found everything very well wrapped up. I also liked the way you shaped Lucy’s and the boy’s evolution. It fits well the personalities you built up in their childhood, for Lucy wasn’t the tormented sort of person, rather a quite self-centered straight-forward one, who – as it happens – wouldn’t let those events tear her up. On the contrary, the boy always showed a sensitivity and innocence – although not as naive as his mate – that clearly leads him to self-destruction after what happened in Coldwater Bay (and especially with his inevitable feeling of guilt for having somehow provoked the massacre). All in all, I have to say that it’s been a pleasure, and I hope you don’t take seriously any of what I’ve said above, for I’m just an amateur critic, a fine reader whose opinion only matters as long as it creates a healthy literary debate, which I wish we could have.

 

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From the London-based scriptwriter Tony Owen (25/07/2014, via email):

 

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading Snug. I found it original, clever, imaginative and affecting. At times I could hardly put the book down, so keen was I to find out what happened and I loved the twist at the end when Lucy turns out to be a chip off her father’s block.

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This comment came from Maarten de Jongh, a Dutchman living in Barcelona, on 03/09/2014:

 I want to thank you for pleasant experience of reading Snug. It’s a wonderful story.

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This message appeared on Amazon-co-uk, on 19/11/2014:

Format: Paperback

I have read some other books by Matthew Tree but, right now, this one is by far my favourite. I thought it was just going to be a pleasant reading that would keep me entertained for a while, but I was completely wrong. Although English is not my mother tongue and I had to use several times a dictionary, I think it’s a brilliant novel, I couldn’t put it down. The story kept surprising me time after time and I had a most enjoyable time reading it, although I also got upset and angry through the pages. I will be looking forward to his next novel.
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This good message came through on 24/11/2014, from Lucia Graves (via email):

Dear Matthew,

 

Just to say how much enjoyed Snug. All the 70s details are exact – how I hated the 70s after the 60s!  The story is so original and thought-provoking it needs no commenting (on).

Brilliant.

 

Lucia

 

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This message – actually two messages sent on different days – came from Henry Ettinghausen, Emeritus Professor fo Spanish at Shouthampton University (via email, 12/12/2014):

I started reading at teatime, and I’m well over halfway. Very readable indeed! Imaginative and plausible, with convincing characters and equally convincing language to put them over.

This is just to say how much I enjoyed SNUG – very readable indeed and, as they say, it makes you think. For example, about the official report on CIA torture and the nil consequences thereof – apparently, Bush isn’t going to be put on trial at the Hague… What about the film of the novel??? In any case, congrats!

 

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A rejection message from Granta, October of 2012, via email:

‘It was a sparkling, compelling and profoundly disturbing piece of writing that pulled no punches. Dr Whitebone was a fascinatingly monstrous character, commanding the same sort of rapt attention as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, and the story itself was realised with remarkable authenticity.

Unfortunately, I found some of the voices, particularly in the ‘I Was Twelve’ sections, to be rather noisy and unconvincing. I also had some doubts about certain characters, WPC Lorraine Woodstock and Mrs Whitebone particularly, whose one-dimensionality and over-simplified characterisation tended to undermine the important roles that they played in the action. Despite the impressively sustained quality of the writing, I felt that at times the novel became a little overwrought, and as such I don’t think it is quite right for Granta.

I’m sorry not to be writing differently. Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to read Snug, and I wish you the best of luck in placing it with a suitable publisher.’

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This brief but polite message came on 28/09/2013 from the Viney Agency, based in London.

Thank you for sending Snug to me but, sadly, it’s not going to one for us. You write well with a lot of energy but it didn’t quite persuade me enough and in these very challenging times for publishing we have to love something to take it on here.

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Possibly the most laconic rejection I’ve ever received ever, from Alma Books (14/10/13):
I am really sorry but we won’t make any offer.
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