A speculative purchase by somebody I’d never heard of, acquired despite the garish cover and interior design – Picador, what were you thinking? ‘Oh,’ said Manny. ‘EVERYBODY says it’s great. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages’. I think the ‘EVERYBODY’ in question is Paul Bryant.
There are lots of things to put a girl off this. For a start it is mainly about hunting’ fishin’ shootin’ men….and that all seems to be the fault of women. Whenever one of these guys fucks up a relationship he finds himself – or looks for himself – by going up a mountain or some such terrain I only look at on the television. He has a habit of saying things that irritated me to death along the lines of she was too young to need makeup. Put that together with the whole men doing men’s things and it strikes me he must put off a lot of females….which given that is the main customer for fiction, doesn’t bode well for his future. It was hard to care a whole lot about the subjects of his work.
The writing is lazy. ‘…smell heavily of thrift stores’ ‘…smelled heavily of cat musk’ appear in the first two stories. A good writer wouldn’t use this uninspiring expression once, let alone twice.
And here, he describes a dead pigeon:
‘The thing was pink, nearly translucent, with magenta cheeks and lavender ovals around the eyes. It looked like a half-cooked eraser with dreams of someday becoming a prostitute.’
Cringes with embarrassment for editors the world over that somebody in Picador let him do this. Original genius, I think not. Just ugly use of language and metaphor that manages to be unintentionally hilarious. It seems he is for ever not trying at all….or trying way too hard.
Another ridiculous example, from page one of the book. The hero has eaten some crackers just before falling asleep with his underpants (if nothing else on.) None the less of the cracker bits ‘all over him….the biggest and worst of them he could feel lodged deep into his buttock crack, like a flint arrowhead somebody had shot in there.’ I need a controlled experiment here for me to come close to being convinced by this.
Which is not to say Towers shouldn’t keep trying. The fact is I finished it in a matter of days and if somebody level-headed told me he was getting better, I’d give him another shot. For 5CHF I could have done worse.