Friday, 1 March 2013
Franco's Armchair: Review of A Generation of Men by Jonathan Frost
So, first things first. Let me, fellow fucko, start this post off with a bit of a caveat. This first chunk of the post might seem a tad bit rambly en aw, but trust me cunts and cuntesses, it be leading up to a proper point soon enough. I'm a bit of an insomniac, always have been, truth be told. Combine this with a fairly drab, lackadaisical teenage spliffersville kind of life, and basically, long story short, I've read an awful lot of books. Seriously, I could lecture English Lit if it wasn't such a corrupted place. Dickens, Joyce, Shakespeare, Byron, the whole bloody fucken In Search for Lost Time, christ on a bike like. Yeah, fucking arsehole going on about Albertine for yet another five million pages. Now, reading Frost's book, A Generation of Men, has made me more than cognizant of a few little bits en bobs that have been floating around for the past while.
Very few, so few you could count them with your fingers almost, writers write good books before the age of 35, or at the very least before 30. Like literally fuck all, and that includes philosophy as well. Sure, you've got Joyce writing mindblowing stuff The Dead when he was 26 or so, and mad as a hatter cunt who might not have ever existed Thomas Pynchon writing possibly the finest book of the 60s, the enigmatic V, at the ridiculous age of twenty six. But even then like. Pynchon's best novels, Gravity's Rainbow and Mason & Dixon, were written at 35+. Ulysses was completed when Joyce was 40, and is a far greater work than Dubliners. So, if you are one of those incredible, six sigmas to the fucken left cunts, then you're still going to write better stuff later on ken as you approach your later years. Statistically speaking. Off off. Sylvia Plath is fucking arse.
So, with Frost being 27, he's not going to be writing his best stuff, for oh, I'd say another decade or so? With that cleared up ken, we should get onto the order of the day, the fucken book review.
Sadly, it isn't great.
Well, ok, it isn't terrible. It's readable. It avoids two common pitfalls of modern literature, in that (a), it dinnae suffer from what I like to call Scott Fitzgerald adverb syndrome (he ran quickly then opened the door loudly and then walked briskly down the hall, etc) and (b), the characters aren't Marxist cutouts. In otherwords, if yous were to pick up an Oprah approved book, you'll find caricatures, empowered women, racist white men, and christ like minorities, talentless writers like Colm Toibin doing the whole, "isn't it sad that I'm gay and the whole world and all of fucken history hated gays" and whatnot. The problem is, is that these don't feel like characters. They feel like ideas, concepts. Ian is not Ian. He's fucking Roissy's beta male. Nick isn't a loser with a painful childhood, he's Roissy's omega male. This is something Aurini's book has as well, but that book balances it out with awesome villains and a buddy buddy thing going on that feels like Starksy and fucking Hutch at times, the characters gel so well together. The whole thing between Jason and Ian just feels flat. The dialogue isn't great either admittedly. It's not terrible, nothing facepalm worthy, but it feels a bit forced at times. Nerds like Nick don't talk like that, and I see these lads everyday. I dunno. It's more Frost talking through these three characters, than characters with all of these unique voices. The second issue is that it isn't particularly original. Forney mentioned Nowiki. I see Tom Wolfe all over this book. Not that that's a particularly bad thing, but Frost is still clearly finding his voice here.
That's not to say there isn't anything of merit. The book itself is well written. Nick's chapters are stronger than the others, the house party chapter in particular, is just an uncomfortable, depressing uncompromising read, but in a good way, it is quite striking and more than palatable. If Frost wants to get better, write material like the house party chapter, pursue this direction kid. Contra to Forney, I quite enjoyed the ending, even if it was a bit umm...shock value tied up in it.
So that's it really. It's worth your time. It's kinda like, I dunno, Pablo Honey or something, in that it isn't great per sae, but it has some incredibly impressive moments underneath, and you can see the potential later on. Frost is only going to get better, this is still better than most Man Booker Prize drivel, and I will most certainly read anything else he be putting out in the future. Hey, I'm trying to write some short stories right now, and if they turn out half as good as A Generation of Men, I'll be hella pleased, as all the cool kids would say.
Buy it here. Until March 7th, it is free. PG37C as you head to de checkout.