Review: 5ive Speed – A Novel by Charley Warady

Charley Warady and his wife Carol have been the voices in my head for about five years now. Ex-pat Americans living and raising their family in Israel, the pair host a weekly podcast discussing news and events in Israel, one of my favourite places in the world.  Charley is a comedian and writer and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest novel.

The lesson Donald Roth learned during his late 60’s Chicago childhood was that near enough is good enough, at least for him. When all the other kids had a five speed Schwinn Sting Ray, Donald got a three speed and that set the tone for the rest of his life. His career, his wife, his life were all…’good enough’. Until he met his son’s future in-laws that is, and started to think he might be able to go for the five speed experience.

I’m sure there are people out there who know from birth they’re cut out for greatness but I suspect most of us, me included, are closer to Donald Roth’s point of view that we’ll count ourselves lucky if things turn out ‘not bad’. This made it easy for me to connect with him from the start, despite the fact I’m not a bloke or American or a baby boomer. His story unfolds in such a way that I was quickly drawn into his ‘good enough’ world and soon wishing him luck in his hunt for a five speed moment. There are some other terrific characters too, not the least of which are his two best friends Dan and Larry, and Donald’s…acerbic wife Emily (she’s not terribly nice but she gets great lines). The five speed woman of Don’s dreams is another standout.

As I may have mentioned once or twice I’m not much of a romantic. This is not because I don’t believe in love but because romance, at least as generally depicted in popular culture, is too damned serious. What I liked most about 5ive Speed is that its romance was delivered with oodles of humour, which is surely much more realistic than pulsating body parts and staring longingly into each other’s eyes. I think human relationships are pretty bloody funny and this book proves it. At one point Donald is in a serious moment with his love interest

He smiled at her knowingly. At least he attempted to smile at her knowingly. He wasn’t sure what a knowing smile looked like, and now began to freak out because he thought he was probably looking like a psychotic murderer with an idiotic smile on his dumb-ass face.

The non-romantic bits of the book are funny too. Sometimes ‘laugh out loud’ funny, sometimes ‘chuckle quietly to yourself funny’, sometimes ‘smile secretly and hope someone asks you what you’re smiling at so you can roll your eyes like they’re silly for even having to ask’ funny. I’m loathe to do comparisons but if pressed I’d say it’s like a mixture of Nick Hornby (A Long Way Down) and Zadie Smith (White Teeth) with a smattering of early Ben Elton thrown in for good measure. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t get a kick out of this tale of daring to finally take a shot at living a life that’s more than ‘good enough’.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating 4/5
Publisher Smashwords [2011]
Length 266 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Book Series standalone
Source I bought it

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5 Responses to Review: 5ive Speed – A Novel by Charley Warady

  1. Bernadette – Oh, this sounds like a great book! I love the humour and the premise sounds really good – finally taking a shot at life. What an interesting idea! I’m going have to look for this one.


  2. Keishon says:

    I love that quote and am sold.


  3. Belle Wong says:

    This sounds like a fun book! I’m not much of a romantic, either, and I’ve always liked it when romance in books is on the more humourous side.


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