A CAR plunging off Beachy Head is the arresting cover of The Dropout, the newly published novel from Sussex author David Gee.
It is billed as a “coming-of-age drama that offers a sly, edgy twist on themes from The Graduate and American Pie”.
The story covers a year in the life of 19-year-old Paul Barrett who drops out of university in the Midlands after his girlfriend dumps him and their gay best friend, who has a major crush on Paul, commits suicide.
Paul returns to his Sussex hometown and goes to work as a sales rep for his uncle, a furniture tycoon. The town is a lightly fictionalized Eastbourne which Paul ungratefully calls Boredom-on-Sea.
It totally fails to live up to this image as Paul’s sexual ‘odyssey’ takes him through one-night stands with foreign students, a shack-up with his uncle’s stepdaughter and an affair with the office receptionist who is his uncle’s gold-digging mistress. Paul also attracts another gay admirer: unable to forget Neil’s suicide, how will Paul deal with it this time?
David Gee was born in Plumpton, grew up in Hailsham and went to school in Lewes. After a career which took him to London and the Persian Gulf he now lives in Newhaven.
“Paul’s university and the factory are taken from my own experiences,” he said, “although Paul himself is largely based on someone on I knew in my gap year.
“Two years ago I met a student in Brighton who was having a hard time dealing with a gay ‘stalker’, so I built up that element of the story, which I’ve set in 2003 with the Bush-Blair ‘War on Terror’ in the background.”
Gee’s first novel, published in 2009, was Shaikh-Down, a spicy comedy set on an imaginary island in the Persian Gulf, where a ‘bedroom coup’ offers a handy shortcut to Regime Change. His third book, coming next year, is intriguingly titled The Bexhill Missile Crisis.
Who is in the car that goes off Beachy Head? “You’ll have to buy the book to find out,” says Gee. You can read the first two chapters on the author’s website: www.davidgeebooks.com
He will be signing copies of The Dropout at a Macmillan Coffee Morning in St Andrew’s Church, Waterloo Street, Hove, on Friday, September 28.
The book is published by Troubador and priced at £7.99.