Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: The Man in the Seventh Row by Brian Pendreigh (2/5)

By Natasha Post

Roy is a film fan. He loves the cinema. Maybe he loves the cinema a little too much. Lately, things have been going wrong. He settles into his favourite seat to watch an old movie, but he's not seeing what he expects to see.

No matter the film –
The Graduate, Brief Encounter, The Magnificent Seven – he finds himself sucked from his seventh- row seat into the heart of the action on the big screen.

Roy's everywhere. Playing lead roles in dozens of classic moves. A fantasy come true? Or a living nightmare?
Initially I was very excited about this book.   The synopsis sounded great and I thought it would be a unique and original read.   There are times when your hopes are brilliantly met and then some, and then there are times when your hopes are dashed by the double edged blade of letdown.  To enjoy this book you must 1) adore movies, and 2) adore reading a play by play of each one.  Literally. 

There’s also the art of flashback, which, unfortunately, was not mastered in this book.  It jumps back and forth in between conversations, interactions, and setting so much that I had no idea which way was up.   The best parts were the interaction between Roy and Ann, but even those were cut short by Roy going into some sort of memory that had him relaying yet another movie.  There was more description of movies than Roy actually being in them.  I would have loved to have seen more of Roy in the movies, having to play part the part, as opposed to just constantly reminiscing about dates gone wrong because he told his date he was trying to watch the movie and other such flashbacks. 

I love to read ornate writing, but if someone hasn’t mastered the skill, it can come off completely chaotic.  The finer details of the story get lost in the clutter, and unfortunately, in this case, that’s what happened.  I believe this book had the potential to wow its readers, but by relaying movies line by line and adding flashbacks in wrong places (and by doing it so many times that it killed any positive effect it might have had) the book fell flat.  It’s difficult to read and understand, and the audience has to get through mounds of unnecessary words in order to find the small line of story buried deep within.  I love the writing itself, but the story – well like I said – it’ll only sit well with a certain audience.  Unfortunately, I’m not part of it.

The Man in the Seventh Row gets two stars from me.  One for the original concept, and two for referencing the anti-aging breasts of a wanna-be-forever-young aging starlet.
Brian Pendreigh is an award-winning freelance journalist and author.  He ahs been passionate about films since childhood, ran the film club at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, and found X-certificate films were particularly popular.  He reviews films for Radio Times and writes most of the film obituaries in the London Times

He was formerly senior feature writer and cinema editor on The Scotsman, wrote regularly on film for the Guardian Friday Review and was associate editor on Hotdog magazine, the best film magazine ever.

He has patrolled with commandos in the Central American jungle, crewed on a sailing ship, swum with sharks, taken part in paranormal experiments (in the line of duty) and has represented Britain in the Journalists World Tennis Championships.

He lost.

Brian collects bubble gum cards and enjoys quizzes.


About the ReviewerTasha has a voracious appetite for books. They are commonly found overflowing on her shelves, littered around her house, in the car, at the work place, and just to be safe, Tasha always has her Nook stashed somewhere on her person. Besides reading, she’s an avid writer. Never wanting to be without pen and paper when inspiration strikes (as it so often likes to smack her in the face when she’s away from her desk) she can always be seen with a mini notebook and pen attached to her wrist. A wife and mother of two four legged pups, Natasha not only works full time, but she is also a full time college student working towards an AA and then to dual majoring in English and Multimedia Journalism.  You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her blog, Wannabe Wild Writer.  


  1. Grat, honest review. I know what you mean about ornate writing, that can be hit or miss. Flashbacks...ugh...they have to be done well too or they can totally pull me out of the story.

    1. Thank you ma'am. Yeah, Tasha hit the nail on the head. Flashbacks can give you literary epilepsy if you're not careful.

    2. Thanks for the review. I wouldn't have said there were any flashbacks as such, not in the formal sense of the term. What you call flashbacks represent reality, being sucked into the films is fantasy or alternative reality. I have always been passionate about film and was influenced in the nostalgia/fanboy element by Nick Hornby (who I realise probably isn't too well known in the US) and what he did with pop music in High Fidelity. I was also influenced by the whole Latin-American notion of magic realism (and Field of Dreams). It is is odd you suggest the writing is ornate as I would have considered my style quite prosaic. Brian

    3. Well, not every book will resonate with every reader. Sometimes the styles simply don't mesh. But we really appreciate you taking note of the review and stopping by. Thanks, and best of luck with your other writing endeavors.


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