What follows is a series of episodes of the slow everyday whirlwind; wedding planning; family dinners; even a competition for who can create the best email sign-off. With a charming self-awareness, Hession seems to be experimenting with just how mundane life can get. With this strategy, there are moments when he doesn’t quite nail the tightrope walk between realism and parody, and the events do come off as just a little plain. However, for the most part, Hession inserts just the right amount of detail and quirkiness into these slices of life that blankets the book in a wonderfully warm and accepting atmosphere. At its best, there is such a tenderness and gentle wit to each sentence that it’s almost as if the pages are reaching out to the reader to say: ‘It’s okay. Take your time.’
And this feels like the main sentiment to take away from the novel: try not to get swept up into the world’s rollercoaster. Take a step back. Look around. Today’s virus-ridden world seems to be changing faster than ever, and there have been times this year where it’s all been too much to take. But turning the final pages of Leonard and Hungry Paul makes the world feel like a much less scary place, and instead of feeling overwhelmed by the big picture, we feel open to appreciate all the tiny unnoticed things that are happening around us. Through the lens of Hession and his simple but loveable characters, the ordinary world feels like the best possible place to be.
Leonard and Hungry Paul is produced by Bluemoose: https://bluemoosebooks.com/
review written by Alex George