Saturday, March 15, 2014

Straight White Male by John Niven

This is John Niven's best book and marks his real maturity as a writer. The strength of Kill Your Friends was the laugh out loud portrayal of the horrors of the music industry, building on that as a backdrop for a story about busking it and depraved ambition.

This goes further. You still root for a flawed central character - Kennedy Marr a self-centred and hedonistic writer who turns to English academia. But while Stelfox in Kill Your Friends is utterly beyond redemption and without a shred of a scruple, Marr never particularly does harm. Success comes relatively easy to him, even though he runs away from his responsibilities and is led by his urges.

But the skill of the book is to change pace and mood - to remain consistent to the character and how he thinks through his crises, but it is also incredibly tender in its final third when he tells stories of his family and of death and how Kennedy confronts the misery of his own recklessness. It's a delight at times and I genuinely couldn't put it down. John Niven is definitely one of my favourite writers at the moment.

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