I Nearly Died

Charles Spencer

29 January 2015
304 pages


For Will Benson, life on Theatre World has its compensations, although they are mostly to be found in the nicely rounded shape of Kim, the chief sub-editor. But there are drawbacks, too: the Wednesday morning hangovers after the Tuesday night sessions at the typesetters; stroppy Martha, receptionist from hell; Colin the odious star reporter; having to review fat-headed avant-garde productions of Romeo and Juliet in smelly Cambden Town basements. And, of course, the death threats.

Somewhere out there is Will's own personal psychotic, who is really very displeased with him, and pretty handy with a crossbow into the bargain. It's not all that easy to work out who it is, either, as the list of candidates starts to grow alarmingly. Does getting drunk and handing your girlfriend a few home truths really warrant this kind of reaction? Or stumbling on a loudmouth comic's dirty little secret?

In his amateurish attempts to stay alive Will lumbers from posh West End crush bars to suburban roadhouses, where they hold Talent Nites and wet T-shirt contests, from the antiseptic pleasures of the Docklands Light Railway to the wild thrills of the Big Dipper, while Kim turns out to be helpful in all sorts of amusing and stimulating ways.

Fast-paced and funny, with a vivid sense of place and sharply drawn characters, I Nearly Died is Charles Spencer's vastly entertaining debut novel.