Thursday, 24 May 2012

On Cheese Rolling And Other Adventures: Review of Ian Usher's A LIFE SOLD

A Life Sold - Ian Usher
Wider Vision Publishing, November 4, 2010

Recently I wrote about giving up everything to chase your dreams, and about finding happiness despite the obstacles those dreams can throw at you ( This reminded me of a book that’s been on my TBR pile for two years now – a book about giving up everything and in return achieving so much more – and I knew it had to be the subject of my next review. A Life Sold follows the fascinating journey of a man who sold his life on ebay and lived – really lived – to tell the tale.
That journey began when, spurred on by the end of his marriage and the thought of an uncertain future, Ian Usher decided he needed a new start. He listed his house, possessions, an internship at his workplace and an introduction to his friends as one big package in an online auction, and walked away from the sale with nothing but a passport, some cash, and a list of 100 goals to achieve in 100 weeks.
The result is an impossible, inspiring, intriguing adventure.
Whatever’s on your bucket list, you can bet Ian’s achieved or at least tried something along those lines. Whether it’s taking a zero gravity flight, visiting the Seven Wonders of the World, swimming with whales or chasing a big cheese down a hill, he’s been there. And because the story is partially told through the blog posts he wrote at the time of completing each goal, you get the very real sense that you’re there too (although for the tasks like nude skydiving, I’m glad I’m only reading!).
The blog posts also break up the flow of narration nicely, and it’s very exciting to see the font change and know that another goal is about to tumble. There is a rawness to the editing in these posts that at times had me longing to grab a red pen to tackle an extra comma or bit of passive voice, but it is that down-to-earth-ness which makes the story feel so accessible and achievable, and before long you’ll be forming your own list of goals to tackle. (Mine so far? Getting my novel on the higher school certificate curriculum list and playing clarinet at the ancient amphitheatre in Athens. Never mind that I don’t play clarinet but hey, ‘what’s life without a challenge?’ as Ian might say).
My only real criticism is that at around 140 000 words, the story is long. I found myself skipping some of the in-between narration as I felt that it returned a little too often to the themes of loneliness and despair over the future, while I was just anxious to get back to the excitement of achieving another goal. Despite therefore missing some of the emotional subplot I still got enough of the build-up to enjoy a great ending, made all the more special by the fact that the story is so very real. The writing is funny, personal, heart-felt and descriptive, allowing you to climb onto the rollercoaster that was two years of Ian’s life and enjoy the ups and downs with him. Some readers won’t agree with the decisions he took while on that ride, but that just makes more food for thought. And that, in itself, is just another strength of what is overall a thoroughly enjoyable read.

P.S. This is a new blog. Anything you could do to spread the word would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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