The Autograph Man, The Trick is to Keep Breathing

Some more recent reads:

 

 

The Trick is to Keep Breathing… by Janice Galloway

 

The story of a young woman whose lover drowns while they are on holiday. The novel chronicles her mental disintegration, and descent into depression, anorexia/bulemia and self harm. Mental illness is beautifully captured by the writing style, which stylistically mirror’s the character’s mental state as it shifts. The voice of the central character felt very real, very genuine, both intelligent and self-defeating, humorous and tragic. While the loss of her lover is the trigger, the book looks into her life more deeply and deftly portrays the subtle and cunning effects of pervasive sadness. Highly recommended. 4.5/5

 

 

The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

 

The Autograph Man is the story of Alex, a young guy whose life is drifting by him, as he struggles to come to terms with adulthood, his relationships, friendships, religion and the memory of his father. Alex is an autograph salesman, and his career takes him to the US where he meets a reclusive former actor and a philsophical former porn star. I loved Smith’s first novel, White Teeth, but I found this one slightly harder going. Her writing is always enjoyable, and that is what kept me reading; that and the humour dotted throughout. The scenes between Alex and his friends felt a little flat to me; the dialogue and humour never really came alive. Your mileage may vary, of course. The novel picked up when Alex travelled to the US and met some new characters; these scenes helped to give his character some dynamic by throwing contrast on it. If you are frustrated with drifting, ineffectual main characters I suggest you skip this book. However, despite these reservations, I liked Alex. And while I found the book a little ambling in places, there was enough in it to keep me reading. Smith is still one of the more intelligent and funny modern novelists, and even when this book isn’t working, it’s never completely dull. I give this 3.5/5, but I’ll definitely be reading more of her work.

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