Paul lives a basic life focusing on just getting by from moment to moment, day to day. The man who pays for his up-keep makes sure he has the basics, but only the basics, on which to live. Paul is unsure why this patron keeps him at all. In truth, he doesn’t understand much, nor does he want to. Ignorance is his way of life; being unaware his default mode. He might even be happy if he were just left alone.
Paul’s backer is having an affair, but what does his wife know about it? Paul is given a mission to find out and is forced to become an unwilling private detective. Not knowing what he is doing, nor why, he is plunged into a world filled with eccentrics: the extraordinarily ordinary private detective, Mr Samuels; Cassandra, the patron’s wife, who seems caught in a 1930s novel; the mistress whose odd-coloured eyes are perhaps the least disturbing thing about her. But the real mystery might be Paul himself: who is he really? Why is he a kept man? Why can’t he cope with any of the people and things forced upon him?
Told with great energy and urgency, Of People and Things is at once a comic mystery story, similar to the works of Will Self or a comic Cormac McCarthy, but also a strangely unsettling and moving novel as uncanny moments pile upon each other to test the hapless narrator’s attempts to understand just what is going on.