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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Book Review: The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of The Afterparty via a giveaway on David Hebblethwaite's book blog. I'd urge you to have a look at his blog and if you're a short story lover you may want to join in with his 'Sunday Story Society' where you read and discuss short stories from various authors - I'm currently trying to find the time to participate! Now on to the review.

A literary agent receives the first few chapters of an intriguing new novel written by William Mendez. It tells the story of a journalist attending the birthday party of a film star. During the evening he also encounters the film star's drug-addicted supermodel wife and an X Factor contender from Leeds who has found himself moving in unbelievable circles. By the end of the night tragedy has occurred and the literary agent is hooked by the manuscript. But the case bears a startling resemblance to a real-life case and Mendez refuses to even meet prospective publishers.

The story is told through the emails between the agent and Mendez and the chapters he sends her. The blur between reality and fiction makes it arguably a post-modern masterpiece, you've got Elton John and Gordon Ramsey at the party for instance. I think my reasons for struggling with it are mostly personal. While the world is described with a satirical bite to it, I am one of the (perhaps few) who doesn't give a damn about celebrity culture. Although the book is intended to be a mockery of the culture, I found that even the satire didn't hold my interest at first. This altered around half way through when the 'crisis' occurred and I read the second half of the book much more quickly than the first.

This is certainly a different kind of novel than I've read before and I'd recommend it on that count alone. However, beware of the decadence and debauchery. Inevitably, the book drowns in them at times.

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