Utterly Monkey, by Nick Laird (Harper Collins, 2005)
Utterly Monkey is about an early-career professional, late 20s-early
30s, who drinks too much, is unsuccessful at relationships, unhappy with
work and wonders why heís not happy. In other words, itís about me and
the hundreds of thousands of men like me out there in the world.
Utterly Monkey is also a book that I liked, but wanted to like more.
Itís author, Nick Laird, is an Irish poet who married an American
novelist (Zadie Smith) and decided that he should be writing fiction
too. And heís right, because at times his debut novel is a solid read.
At other times, not so much.
covers a few weeks in the life of Danny Williams, a Belfast boy who goes
to school and gets a job as a lawyer in London, leaving his roughish
past behind. Or so he thinks. Then Geordie Wilson, a chum from his old
neighborhood, shows up looking for a place to crash. The fact that
Geordie is on the run from a criminal that he stole $50,000 from enters
the plot soon after. A half-hearted fistfight notwithstanding,
Danny agrees to help Geordie out, with mixed results.
Laird was a lawyer, so Iím sure much of his tale was based on something
that happened to him. However, the story is chock full of cliches,
including a love scene that seems to borrow heavily from the movie
The saving grace of Utterly Monkey is Lairdís voice, which is witty and
reluctant and tired and slightly embarrassed, much like the main
character. UM is worth a read but it will be more interesting to see
what Laird comes up with next.
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