I should work in a bookstore.
Alan Warner Faber/Allen & Unwin Published October 2014 Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I’m just going to state this straight up, no flowery sentences or beating around the bush: I really disliked these characters! Llewellyn and Cunningham, they’re only 21, but both are stuck up and pretentious, believing the world owes them everything though they have made no contribution to it whatsoever. They both live on government welfare, some of it ill begotten, along with Llewellyn’s young wife Aiofe and baby daughter Lily, the former who Cunningham is increasingly attracted to. They wax on and on about how they’re going to write the greatest novel of their time, yet all they do is drink beer or spirits or whatever they can find and talk about the great novels they’re going to write. They don’t work, they don’t help themselves. They are very easy to dislike.
To start with I was okay with this. The writing was really good and I was enjoying disliking them. But unfortunately by the time I was halfway through I felt pretty done with it. By the time the inevitable happened, which I could see coming a mile off, I was quite disinterested in the rest of the book and could put it down for a couple of days without thinking about it. I wasn’t excited about the book and I didn’t care what happened to the characters, which can happen when you don’t like them. Simply put, I wouldn’t like these guys if I met them. But they do sound like idealistic twenty-one year olds, not that I know much about what life was like in England in the 80s. I recognise their self-entitlement in some of the people I know, so Warner got that spot on.
I know some really smart people have talked about how great this book is, but I can’t find a whole lot more to say about it. I enjoyed the writing but the story itself couldn’t keep me interested and I didn’t feel invested. I would be curious to read Warner’s other works though and see what else he can do.