Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus (2/5)

First published: 2011
Page count: 392

The back says: Literary agent Valerie Morrell receives an email from prospective author William Mendez, containing the first chapters of a promising new novel. Mendez's book tells the story of an April night, when a nervous, nerdy journalist takes his boss's invitation to an A-list party and meets a reclusive film star, his junkie supermodel wife and a wide-eyed pop singer.

Valerie is hooked by the scandalous tale of decadence, drugs and disasters, but as the book unfolds, chapter by chapter, email by email, building to a terrible climax, a parallel story emerges - of an author with an unusual, almost unreal, desire for anonymity. Who is William Mendez? And whose tale is he really telling...

I say: What an utterly tedious read this turned out to be for several reasons.

One. Benedictus does that which I rarely enjoy; he inserts himself into the novel and gives himself extremely high praises. He calls the novel post-post-modern, a new kind of novel that is not metafiction but hyperfiction. It made me want to heave.

Two. The storyline isn’t that interesting or even convincing. I only have myself to blame for this because I have little, if any, interest in the lives and parties of celebrities, but I trudged on due to the promise of impending disaster.

Three. The back and forth emails between Morrell and Mendez annoyed me and felt like a contrived plotline with the only function of giving Benedictus leave to praise his own work.

Four. The tweets at the end of the novel that I didn’t even read because why the fuck would I?

Sometimes I read novels that I wind up liking even though they are poorly crafted, and sometimes I read novels that are brilliantly crafted but boring. Since my main field of study in literary science is metafiction, I found the premise of Benedictus’ novel interesting - albeit nowhere near as ground-breaking and he believes – and it would only be as a literary tool that I would ever revisit it. Beyond that, I do understand that this is satire and Benedictus making some sort of statement about celebrity culture and whatnot, and I am aware of all the praise it has been getting, but that means little to me when I find the writing average and grossly overshadowed by the narcissism.

2/5 which could have been more if only he had kept his self-love out of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment