Fiction – paperback; Tivoli; 352 pages; 2004.
If you ever needed proof that I have rather eclectic reading tastes, then this review coming directly after W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four should do it. Admittedly, I read Everyone’s Got A Bono Story on my sick bed; my mind couldn’t settle on anything and I was looking for something completely fluffy, something that wouldn’t tax my brain and would be as easy to read as a knife slicing through soft butter. This book, the first by Anne-Marie O’Connor, fit the bill perfectly.
It’s set in Dublin where everyone has a story to recount about Bono, the lead singer of U2. Perhaps they’ve seen him drinking in a bar, maybe a cousin went to school with him, or a friend of a friend once delivered him a pizza. But Aoife Collins, a 20-something office manager who has dreams of becoming a fashion designer, hasn’t got a story to relate. When she loses her job and is evicted from her flat, all in the same week, her lack of a Bono tale seems the least of her worries. Then her best friend, Rory, throws down the gauntlet: if she can engineer her own encounter with Bono he will give her 5,000 euros.
You see where this is going, right? Okay, the story is as cheesy as the cover image, and the whole premise is just ridiculous, but it’s a very witty read. Part of the joy of reading Everyone’s Got a Bono Story is following Aoife’s exploits as she tries lots of different ways to meet the man himself, including dressing up as a nun and knocking on his front door. There’s certainly an element of farce to it, and I’m surprised no-one’s actually made it into a film — it’d be a riot.
O’Connor fleshes out the narrative by giving both Aoife and Rory complicated parental relationships: Rory’s dad is super-rich but oblivious to Rory’s homosexuality; and Aoife’s mother just wants her daughter to return to rural Kerry, where she can settle down with a nice man, rather than running amok in the city.
Of course, there’s the obligatory romantic liaison for Aoife, which doesn’t go according to plan, and a similar amount of angst about her career, because she just lacks the confidence to do what she really wants to do.
There’s no surprises in the rather predicable plot, which ends on a rather happy note for all involved (including Aoife’s mother), but this is a light-hearted read, perfect for those times when you fancy a giggle.