‘Mr Breakfast’ is the name of the photo that made Graham Patterson famous as a world-renowned photographer. Except this Graham Patterson doesn’t remember taking this photo. In fact, this Graham isn’t even a photographer, he’s a comedian, so whose life is he living?
As Graham reaches a point of crisis in his life, he decides to make one last go of things, buys a ridiculous car and heads out west on a road trip, the final destination being to give up on his mediocre comedy career and get a sensible job. On the way, however, he stops off at a small town in North Carolina and in a moment of impulse, gets tattooed.
That tattoo just so happens to be imbued with magic and gives him the opportunity to take a look at alternate realities of how his life could have turned out if he’d just made different decisions. But as he explores the what-if and if-only moments, his alternate lives start to bleed into one another, leaving Graham with a choice to make one of those potential lives his reality forever.
Sharing the DNA of movies like Sliding Doors and The Weatherman, Jonathan Carroll’s latest novel is a cinematic exploration of nostalgia, regret and self-reflection. The glimpses Graham Patterson is given at his alternate stories are intoxicating with emotional pangs that resonate with a sweet sense of realism. Carrol sensitively shows that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side – more that it is painted in different shades. This isn’t A Christmas Carol-esque salvation story but a tender work of literary fantasy; absorbing and provocative, yet free from the cynicism of a Hollywood redemption arc.
Mr Breakfast is a charming and thoughtful tale, an introspection on reckoning with the choices you make and how they can weigh and balance with personal values and the many opportunities life brings.