Those that have followed me for a while or that do so across the various forms of social media, are probably aware that my real? name is not Parrish or Parrish Lantern. Those that have checked out my "about page" will also know how a I came by this pseudonym. Like a lot of individual's over the years I've had a few alter egos that - like "Parrish" - have been what I have described as my Spiderman, Batman, or Silver surfer (choose one) superhero guise, by this I mean they represent a facet of my personality I like to think of as set free from those every day realities that shadow our personas, free from the 9-5 mentality that pays for the Spiderman costume. I raise this issue now because of a book sent to me by the writer and fellow blogger Andrew Blackman.
Jeff Brennan has multiple online personalities and finds switching between them easier than dealing with his mundane offline existence. Jeff, depending on who he is dealing with can be a caring grandson, a bored IT consultant, avid gamer or committed eco warrior, it is this last one that completely changes his life. Whilst on a protest with a friend he meets the gorgeous Marie, a young American woman who works with the homeless. After the protest Jeff and Marie are introduced to each other and she, who on hearing his name, mistakes him for a famous, yet reclusive political blogger of the same name. Jeff decides to go along with this as a ruse to get a date with Marie, but as they fall in love and develop a relation, he has to come up with increasingly more desperate measures to keep the illusion alive. This all comes to a head when the reclusive blogger decides to attend a protest and introduces himself to Marie. I won’t divulge any more of the story, I will just leave you with some questions.
Will Jeff & Marie’s relationship survive this?
Will Jeff survive this?
How will famous Jeff deal with the other Jeff?
How will Andrew Blackman tie all the ends together ?
All this and much more make up the final section of this book and how Andrew brings it all together is as much fun as the book itself. A Virtual Love is an old, old tale told in new way, it is a tale of love and deception, but spun from new cloth, spun from Nano technology. In the modern world, where a great part of an individual’s life is played out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Librarything or Goodreads etc. Where people whose interaction is more online whether this is purchase or play, what needs to be remembered - is how we relate to others and how we perceive those relations. In a world where one can form authentic relationships without physically meeting, one needs to occasionally remember that like all relationships - how you would like to be treated is how you should treat others. A Virtual Love is a great fun read that makes you smile whilst leaving you with a lot of questions.
Andrew Blackman is a former Wall Street Journal staff writer, now living in London and concentrating on fiction. His debut novel On the Holloway Road (Legend Press, 2009) won the Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary and was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.
His articles, essays and stories have also been published in Monthly Review, Post Road, Carillon and Smoke, and in books by Twenty Stories Publishing, Negative Press and Arachne Press, among others. He has a Bachelor’s degree in modern history from Oxford University and a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
A Virtual Love has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. check it out.