Socrates Adams, ‘Everything’s Fine’

First published on The Huffington Post (23rd February 2012) //

In his first novel, Socrates Adams doesn’t seem that bothered about giving you an easy ride. Yes, there’s the humour, a requirement for the ‘alt lit’ canon, and the thread with which he pulls you into his yarn, to have you wince for his characters and cringe through the situations they create for themselves. But it’s not the laughs that make this debut an impressive one.

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Mel Bosworth, ‘Freight’

First published on The Huffington Post (24th January 2012) //

You might remember those books – they probably still make them (I just checked, they do) – called Choose Your Own Adventure where you read a bit, then there’s a little action, then you make the hero’s choice at some bifurcation of the story. I’m opening the first pages of Mel Bosworth‘s debut novel, Freight, and I see it is a little like that, but after my first diversion it seems it isn’t so much the story’s action you’re diverting, but your own mood and feeling. Is that possible?

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John Warner, ‘The Funny Man’

First published on Spike Magazine (23rd January 2012) //

John Warner’s debut novel, about the rise and fall of an unnamed American comedian known only as “the funny man”, is a mulchy broth of satire, cultural commentary and La-Z-Boy philosophy that simmers away on lukewarm, only ever threatening to come to the boil, though not without ambition, before bubbling back into quiet soup, despite a satisfying crouton rising to the surface now and again.

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