‘Don’t miss it!’ – Straight White Male by John Niven

swmjnThere seems to be a number of books out recently about middle-aged men’s neurosis – Zoo Time is another such novel, but this book is far away and the best I’ve read on this topic. It’s hilarious.

Kennedy Marr is the protagonist; a womanising, drunk Irish former novelist who has immigrated to Hollywood to work in the film industry as a screenwriter. And, I expect, so that he can continue this lifestyle for we learn he has abandoned his family on the other side of the pond. His brother Patrick cares for their dying mother in Ireland while his ex-wife and teenage daughter live in Warwickshire. His sister died in London. LA is far removed from his previous lives so he can anyone and anything he wants. His name has weight so he can charge millions of dollars for a script, and only slightly less for a rewrite.

His ejaculations are better remembered than the name of the girl he’s shagging that day after a lunch costing thousands of dollars.

This is his dream: to have everything, to be able to have any one, when and wherever he wants. Marr started this lifestyle in London, causing his marriage to break down, but it’s certainly increased in LA.

When a man has everything, what can happen to him?

Niven has decided that great destroyer of the rich, tax, should bring his man down. Marr has a tax bill that makes accountants turn white in their chairs and knock back a brandy. And with only a year to pay it off then something has to be done.

Somehow, Marr wins a random award that can solve most of his problems but it comes at a price – he has to return to the UK to teach at a university.

His former life comes crashing back around him as he faces up to fatherhood, his family in Ireland, and what the hell he’s actually doing with his life.

Any Cop?: This book is funny and brilliant as it attacks the literary and film world. Don’t miss it.

Claire Snook


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