‘If you love Bukowski, you are going to eat up Finbow with a fucking spoon’ – Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom by Steve Finbow

Steve Finbow writes the exact opposite of what I want from fiction. However, he writes the exact opposite of what I want from fiction very well indeed.

I did a bit of research on Steve Finbow. Nothing illegal, just a quick Google search, and it confirmed what I thought from reading Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom. It confirmed that Steve Finbow and I probably disagree on almost everything.

So where do we go from here?

It would be bullshit for me to give Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom a bad review. Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t make it bad.

You know that song by Britney Spears, ‘Everytime’? The ballad with the soppy video with Stephen Dorff in it where they are being chased by paparazzi and then at the end she may or may not have killed herself in the bath. Well I love that song, it breaks my heart, and if you think that makes me an idiot, you might very well side with Finbow.

Let me put it another way. You know Bukowski, and Roberto Bolano, and David Peace, and William Burroughs, and the Beats, well… honestly I can only take them in very very small doses. Except Bolano. Who I despise. And if you think all that makes me an idiot…  you might very well side with Finbow.

I have a vision of Steve Finbow. Finbow, I believe, is a man who would not watch a film because it had Jason Statham in it (I would). I cannot see Steve Finbow owning any records by Daphne & Celeste, or Betty Boo, or Lolly (guilty). Steve Finbow will be a man who travels (I go on holiday). I am pretty confident Steve Finbow doesn’t watch X Factor.

So while Steve Finbow writes about ‘the real’ it is not my real. Finbow, like Bukowski, Burroughs et al is drawn to the dark underbelly of both society and the psyche. His prose is blunt, and powerful, and unambiguously masculine. His characters owe money, and kill, and make porn films. They smoke pot in North African hotels. They investigate their own cruel thoughts. The scratch their souls to see if they flinch. They are unsympathetic. Bleak. They notice the movements of rats and sewage. They are part of the lost. The forgotten. The underclass abused by the excesses of capitalism.

If you love Bukowski, you are going to eat up Finbow with a fucking spoon. You will love him. He is the descendent of the experiments of the Beat writers and their contemporaries, but he is not trapped under their shadow. He is a technically gifted writer, comfortable in all the different styles he uses in this collection.

Any Cop?: You are asking some dumb biffer who watches X Factor. I didn’t enjoy Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom, but then I don’t enjoy any of the writers, such as Kerouac, Burroughs and Bukowski that Finbow is clearly the equal of. You might just love it.

Benjamin Judge

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One comment

  1. Thanks, Benjamin… A really good bad good review… You are correct – I would not watch a Jason Statham film (I’m more David Lynch and Ginī Piggu), nor do I own any songs by Daphne & Celeste (but I do have that bloody Ooh Stick You in my head now – thanks for that), Betty Boo, or Lolly (?) – give me Noise, Punk, and Superchunk any day. And I have never watched X Factor… but I am partial to the new BBC series Sherlock… Cheers for the words…

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