It isn’t the plot that makes this novel special. It lacks much action at all, in fact - but this is a deliberate attempt to direct us alongside Jernigan as he makes a series of bad or passive decisions to draw out the repetitive, unfulfilling life that he admits he would much rather not be living. Instead of focusing on drama, Gates spends the majority of the book focusing on the intricacies of his character, showing redemptive compassion for his introspective, self-pitying protagonist, as he tries to rationalize his own terrible behavior.
The first refreshing element of this novel is that Maya is unlike any other female narrator I’ve ever read. Not only is she wholly unlikable, confusing and exhausting, but she also thinks and says whatever she wants. Still, her raw honesty and humor means that you respect her, even if you don’t like her. Sharma smears foul language and imagery across every page, in ways that typically only male narrators have ever been allowed to do. Which is pretty fantastic.
This book contains more people getting shot than you can shake a stick full of black-tar heroin at, and all the reviews I’ve read about this ‘classic thriller’ are singing its praises - but once I’d read the first 50-odd pages, I got bored. And then I got more bored. And then I had to drink an energy drink to get through the last bit.
Alright, alright - so I’m a huge fan of Chuck Palahniuk and I’ve never read Fight Club. This book was only written 5 years after I was born (brace yourself - these book reviews might become even LESS timely because I read what I want, damnit.) What in the Tyler-Durden-lickin-Marla-repenting-spitting-in-rich-peoples-food-Sam-hell-is-this?
So, David Sedaris. Realised where I'd heard his name before - like millions others, I’ve clicked past his Masterclass ad a million times (still saving up for an annual pass - if anyone’s got a spare one, slide into my DM’s) and heard the distinctive, “If you’re writing about people, you have to be interested in people…”
For years I’ve spoken about what I’m writing next. What novel I’m starting, what project I’m a few pages into. They always come to nothing. For now, the only thing I can do to surprise myself is to actually finish what I’ve started.