What happens now by Jeremy Dyson

Jeremy Dyson is best known as part of grotesque comedy troupe the League of Gentlemen.

He is, however, the least known of the league; they all co-write the material, but while his three colleagues also star in it, the camera-shy Dyson only appears in tiny cameo roles.

Even in the recent film, where the league played themselves as well as their characters, Dyson was played by Michael Sheen.

What Happens Now is in some ways reminiscent of that film. It also deals with the fateful real-world consequences of a television programme. But the tone of the treatment is very different.

This is no gleefully gruesome comedy, but an affecting rites-of -assage story or rather, a story about the stunted, thwarted lives which can ensue if those rites are not performed correctly.

It's easy to attribute a certain autobiographical component to Dyson's protagonist, Alistair Black; like Dyson he's a Leeds boy whose career takes him to London, and a private creator ill at ease with public performance.

In other respects, he's a character with whom we can all identify. when the vertiginous excitement of teenage lust is described from his perspective, or the young person's tragic false certainty in the world's essential fairness, Dyson demonstrates a real gift for encapsulating the universal in an arresting and unusual manner.

Nor does his plotting disappoint, or at least not until the book's conclusion nears.

Without wishing to give away the ending of What Happens Now, it's one which some readers will find unsatisfactory.

This doesn't seem to be because of any failure in Dyson's powers; it's more that his unflinching fidelity to the book's vision of the world demands an ending which would be entirely plausible in a news item but, compared with other fictions, can't help but seem rather disappointing.

Alex Sarll