Sottopassaggio – Review Roundup

sottopassaggioWayne Clews Attitude Magazine – October 2005

You may not have been fortunate enough to have read Nick Alexander’s first novel,‘50 Reasons to Say Goodbye’, but no matter, the sequel, ‘Sottopassaggio’, stands on its own as a novel and can beread independently.We pick up the story of Mark who winds up in Brighton, recovering from ahorrific car crash. Fragile and lonely, Mark attempts to put the past behind him and build anew life for himself. The novel follows his first tentative steps back into the gay scene, developing a crush on unavailable men and renewing an old friendship with Jenny only to discover she has disturbing problems of her own. Ultimately, ‘Sottopassaggio’ is a tale of redemption and resilience; a tender, moving and deeply satisfying read.

Joe Galliano -Gay Times -Sept 2005

This novel stands as either a sequel to Alexander’s hugely entertaining 50 Reasons to say Goodbye, or as a piece in its own right. After the death of his boyfriend in a car crash, Mark tries to rebuild hislife by making the move to Brighton, Britain’s Gay second city.Here he meets figures from his pastand future, falls in and out of trouble and battles with his own despair. Though Alexander has abeautifully turned ear for a witty phrase, the story is shot through with a dark seam, which pulls you in several directions at once. I think we can all recognise the lives that live within these pages,and we share their triumphs and tragedies, hopes and lost dreams.

Paul Burston – Time Out (London) – Nov 9th, 2005

Nick Alexander’s first novel, the critically acclaimed “50 Reasons to Say Goodbye,”told the story of Mark and his fumbled attempts to find love in the wrong places. At the start of this sequel, Mark is happily paired up with a saxophone player named Steve. But not for long. We don’t learn very much about Steve. We know he’s a saxophone player because at the moment his car fatally collides head-on with another vehicle on a motorway in France, his beloved sax is catapulted to safety. It’s almost as an afterthought that we’re told that passenger Mark also survived the accident. It’s typical of Alexander to reintroduce his hero in this way. In the first book much is made of Mark’s endless self-doubting. Now here he is again, playing second fiddle to a brass wind instrument. “Sottopassaggio” finds Mark mourning the loss of his lover and trying to build a new life for himself in Brighton. One night he’s chatted up by a couple of clones, Jean andJohn, and invited back for a threesome. Arriving at their house, Mark is put off by their appalling peach sofa and deep-pile nylon carpet. Downstairs it’s a different story altogether. Trussed up in their dungeon, Mark watches helplessly while his hosts have sex. “Live porn,” he thinks. “Never has my frustration felt more complete.” Shortly afterwards Mark is reintroduced to Jenny with her Smeg fridge and smug outlook on life. A former girlfriend from a time when such things seemed possible, Jenny’s perfect domestic setup hides a dark secret. And then there’s Tom – cute, friendly, and attached, so naturally Mark falls madly in love. Sottopassaggio has all the qualities that made 50 Reasons… such a delight. Buy it today. And if youhaven’t read the first book, buy that too.

Books To Watch Out For -Oct 2005 – Richard Labonte

It’s a sequel of sorts to Alexander’s debut novel, 50 Reasons To Say Goodbye, but this quirkily titled sophomore novel stands sturdily on its own – though anyone charmed by the author’s understated wit and engaging central character will surely want to pick up the first book. As novelsgo, 50 Reasons was an eccentric treat – in the main, it consisted of 50 short chapters, caroming between darkly caustic and energetically comic, about eternally optimistic Mark’s quest for the perfect lover. Sottopassaggio (“an underground tunnel or passage enabling pedestrians to cross aroad or railway,” according to Webster’s: the metaphor becomes clear as the novel is read) is a more traditional work. Mark is picking up the emotional pieces after the sudden, shocking death of the lover he’d finally found. He returns to Brighton, the slumbering seaside resort town where his brother owns a home – and where, bit by bit, he opens up to life: old friendships are rekindled and new ones are forged, and love lost in a heartbreaking heartbeat is found again. Alexander writes about these essentials for a good life with an easy going style that’s often effervescent – and downright hilarious in some sexual sections. But there’s a darker side that adds heft and dimension to the story: part of what draws Mark out of his shell is the violence enmeshing a troubled female friend. Alexander nicely balances the erotic and the profound with saucy good cheer.

AXM – October 2005

The compelling sequel to Nick Alexander’s impressive debut novel, 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye, Sottopassaggio opens with the odds stacked against poor Mark. A dead lover, a dodgy ex-girlfriend and a fresh crop of bizarre encounters could be enough to send him over the edge.

3Sixty Magazine – Sept 2005

Nick Alexander’s first novel 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye earned fantastic reviews last year, with AXM magazine describing his moving yet entertaining debut as “Gay Literature at its finest.” Now, hot on its heels comes the follow on Sottopassaggio, as hero Mark moves to Brighton following thedeath of his boyfriend in a car crash. The book charts his experiences of Brighton’s high life and low life with more twists and turns than the helter-skelter at the end of the pier.

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