21 June 2006
After lugging a fridge around Ireland, chasing Moldovan footballers to challenge them to play tennis, and increasingly desperate attempts to have a hit single, life's slowed down a bit for Tony Hawks. His latest book 'A Piano in the Pyrenees' tells the story of how he bought a nice holiday home in France, moved a piano over there and chilled out with his friends.
He still has a flair for character sketches and for humorous writing. It's just that the material's a bit weak. There is a 15 page section about a village event where everyone follows the cows up into the mountains. It's a gruelling journey and a long day, but it all falls a bit flat when Hawks ducks out early and ends up committing a minor faux pas in front of the mayor: not really the kind of punchline you'd expect after such a big build-up.
Most of the book's pretty hum-drum: Buying houses abroad, wrangling with foreign bureaucracy, moving house, and building a swimming pool are common enough experiences that you'd never get an autobiography commissioned on the back of them. Reading the book is a gentle and pleasant enough journey - it just doesn't feel structured or particularly special at the end. Put it this way: you or I could never get this book commissioned on its outline, and probably not on the strength of any of these chapters either.
If you've lived in the region he writes about, it might be a lot funnier for you. If you enjoyed his other books, you'll probably like reading his style again. For me, it was an enjoyable but lazy read. After all his previous madcap stunts, I was pleased to read a book in which he seems to be content, rather than just jolly. But I'd be surprised if the market will be as tolerant and it seems unlikely this book will recapture the commercial success of his debut.