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Tim Booth – When I Died For The First Time – Book Review

When I Died For The First Time by Tim Booth

Published by Constable 16th May 2024

When I Died For The First Time sees veteran indie band James’ lead singer turn his hand at writing a novel rather than song lyrics for the first time.

Telling the story of rock frontman Seth Brakes, it is sometimes hard to tell where fact meets fiction and you definitely get a sense that Booth’s life has hugely inspired this story – giving it a very tangible feel which pulls the story along and makes you immerse yourself in it.

Seth Brakes is the lead singer of The Lucky Fuckers, and a drug addict. After a near-death experience, he needs to get his life back on track, and we meet him 320 days into his sobriety.  The band agree to reform on the condition that Seth stays sober.  The record label gives them one final chance. The only problem being the writers’ block that Seth experiences until he gives into his demons….

This dark comedy is so gritty and painfully honest that you root for Seth from the get-go. Cheering him on when he finds love and willing him not to pick up the bottle of vodka or the wrap of coke. I was praying he could continue on his path of sobriety and when this didn’t happen I genuinely felt his pain and had such a huge amount of empathy for what drew him to act the way he does. Throughout the book we witness Seth experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and every possible emotion in between. It makes you believe in true love and second chances and standing by people when they need it the most.

Well known for his amazing song lyrics in which he can vividly tell a story in a few minutes, Booth is able to paint a tangible picture of the pain and anguish Seth Brakes is experiencing as he battles what he wants and needs versus what is expected of him from others.  He shows how childhood trauma can have such a huge impact on how we behave as adults sometimes without even realising it, and that what from the outside can be seen as an easy way out isn’t always the case. You never really know what someone is going through.

This debut novel is painfully honest and beautifully written. Booth is clearly sticking to subject matter that he knows – a frontman writing about a frontman. This makes the book so realistic that you could be forgiven for thinking you were reading an autobiography.  I knew it was a novel, but I even found myself googling Seth Brakes after I’d read the opening few pages of the book, as I thought maybe I’d got it wrong!  Such is the genius of the way this is written.

It is gritty, it is raw, it is funny. It is vivid, it is real, it is sexy.  It is everything you want in a book.

I couldn’t put this book down and in fact have already started reading it again. As with Booth’s songwriting, I expect the more I read it the more I will uncover. It is a story that stays with you long after you turn the last page.  If you do one thing today, go and buy this book.


Available now at all good bookshops and online.

All words by Natalie Royle, her authour profile is here

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