Philip Womack

A Lack of Fulfilment

Adverbs

By

Fourth Estate 272pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Everything in this witty, perplexing yet rewarding book is precarious. The characters meld into each other, and Handler’s voice interrupts sometimes; he even steps into the text in the chapter labelled ‘Truly’. The lives of his characters, who lope around diners, get into taxis and go to the movies, are infused with tension, menace and controlled hilarity as they struggle to drag themselves into certainty, with a sense of fulfilment being dangled just out of reach, as if each person were a modern-day Tantalus.

Handler writes charmingly, but suffers from the current American habit of writing long sentences with little punctuation; he redeems himself by saving punch lines or deliciously incongruous statements for the end.

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