I Woke Up This Morning by Stuart Ayris

I'd already read the first two books in the FRUGALITY trilogy, although in the wrong order, and was really looking forward to reading this final part.

You can read I Woke Up This Morning as a stand-alone novel but I think it would be better to read the other two books first and finish with this one because the author brings in characters from the previous two novels to bring the trilogy to its conclusion; you’ll probably get more out of the novel by knowing the background and the back-story.

I loved both the earlier books; (you can read my reviews of Tollesbury Time Forever and The Bird That Nobody Sees earlier on the blog if you’re interested.) I Woke Up This Morning doesn't disappoint: in fact, I think if anything it is even better than the other two.

I Woke Up This Morning is beautifully written with an imaginative and creative use of language. Mr Ayris’ style is often poetical and lyrical. The vocabulary at times is stunning with the use of obscure and arcane words and words that have been invented by the author; at times you don’t know which and need to check the dictionary.

The novel has a clever structure and the author takes the bold step of writing himself into it. The placing of the author himself right at the centre of the novel at first seemed somewhat self-indulgent but it worked really well in the end. Previously he has got into the heads of others and now he’s inside his own; or is he? What is so interesting is the way the novel becomes autobiographical and yet it is a fiction. Using his own name, seemingly personal details and sharing some deep personal angst is at times very uncomfortable and you have to remind yourself you’re reading a novel; you shy away from the “Stuart” character in the way that you tend to shy away from anyone who exhibits mental health issues. The novel goes through an episode where it becomes rambling and almost incoherent as it explores the anguish and torment of a mental breakdown although you could construe it as an exploration of an alternative way of seeing and being.

The author has used this device of personalisation to take the reader into such dark, depressed and lonely places; the intimate details of the collapsing of a life and relationships in the context of an addictive personality is painful to share and is incredibly sad to read. It made me want to cry in places and the only book I've read recently that had that effect was “Jude The Obscure” when the children died.

The essence of FRUGALITY permeates the book with an emphasis on forgiveness; forgiveness of self here more than anything else. The FRUGALITY concept is the unifying theme throughout the trilogy although it is developed differently in each novel. It’s a sort of easy to remember “Desiderata” and encapsulates a sense of optimism about life as much as pointing the way to the good life. Maybe readers who've appreciated this aspect of the books should wear an “F” badge in the way that Christians sport a fish emblem.

Although it is a thought-provoking, challenging and disturbing novel, I Woke Up This Morning is beautiful and inspirational. I don’t know if the author planned the whole trilogy in advance or if it evolved from one book to the next; it doesn't matter really either way: the novel and the trilogy are superb and the writer has an amazing talent. He makes reference in passing to self-published writers and the frustrations of trying to place a literary novel with agents and publishers; I wouldn't bother: conventional types would rip the guts out of this book and tidy up the extraordinary language. I hope that if the book ever does go mainstream the author will insist that not one word is changed.

Go to Stuart Ayris' author page on Amazon UK or Amazon USA for details of all his books.