Published by Impress Books ISBN: 9780954758660

By Giles Ward

BUY 100 WAYS ON AMAZON

 

Peter Staines thinks God made rather a ham-fisted job of constructing the world, trying to shove millions of years’ worth of work into just six days. Typical cowboy builder. And as a carpet salesman with over twenty years in the trade, he feels he’s more than qualified to comment.

So Peter’s come up with some improvements – conveyor belts along the high street, points for good deeds, gender choice, holographic memory projection, identity swaps, no death or defecation and, oh, no golf. Shame his own tidy little world is unravelling. You know, the usual stuff: murder, prostitution, gambling, infidelity, death and the Annual Carpet and Floor Covering Exhibition to survive.

Ultimately Peter is led to question everything he thought he knew, believed in and understood. But, then maybe, just maybe, life isn’t that bad after all.

 

“Ambitious and humorous debut”Western Morning News

“A magic carpet ride!”The Big Issue

“A delightfully dark sense of humour”Book-blog.com

 

ISBN: 9780954758660
Dimensions: 134 mm x 205 mm
Pages: 218
Format: Paperback
Price: £7.99

 

One Response

  1. Debra Hamel

    Clever and morbid and well-written

    The first chapter of Giles Ward’s 100 Ways to Improve the World is only four pages long, but it was long enough to convince me that I was in for a very different sort of book, from an author with a delightfully dark sense of humor. Ward’s protagonist is Peter Staines, a self-absorbed, emotionally stunted, disillusioned carpet salesman who married into money and who is himself writing during the course of the story, jotting in his notebook the brief suggestions for improving the world that punctuate Ward’s novel and give it its title. The first suggestion we read is number 67, a proposal that death be eliminated, which is followed by Peter’s musing, from his own perspective as a businessman, on God’s failings as a CEO:

    “I can’t help thinking some basic management structure or consultation forum might have been wise before He/She/It started designing the world. Surely a spot of market research wouldn’t have done any harm: ‘Out of 100 people asked, 92 said they believed death to be either a bad or very bad idea.’ Not even Nestlé launches a new yoghurt-coated cereal bar without checking with a reasonable cross-section of the market first. The absurd irony didn’t escape me as I sat looking down at body of my dead wife, her blood still warm on my hands.”

    I bet that got your attention. Ward goes on to juxtapose Peter’s appreciation of his wife’s beauty, even in death, with his concern about the state of the ash-effect laminate she’s “carelessly bleeding all over.” The author uses this comic juxtaposition of the mundane and the morbid to good effect later in the book as well, when detailing Peter’s preparations for murder in the three weeks that led up to the story’s denouement.

    Peter, surprisingly given his murderous impulses and egocentrism, is a sympathetic character. We watch him maturing while his life unravels, wishing he wouldn’t go through with killing his wife after all, despite what we know from the opening chapter. It’s not that Peter’s wife doesn’t deserve what she gets, but we don’t want him to throw away whatever chance at happiness he has left. That Ward makes Peter likable despite his extensive character flaws is impressive.

    100 Ways to Improve the World is an unusual and clever and well-written book. (Its plot hangs on a couple of big coincidences, which didn’t bother me, but may trouble some readers.) The book is a good example of why the existence of the literary blogosphere is a Good Thing. Written by a first-time author and released by a small independent publisher, the novel probably never received much attention from the traditional media, and nine months after its release the book is past its prime as far as most print publications are concerned. Hopefully this review will go some way toward getting the book a bit of the attention it deserves.

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