Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell - review by Philip Maughan

Philip Maughan

Sex, Drugs & Blueberry Flans

Lurid & Cute


Jonathan Cape 357pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

More than halfway through Adam Thirlwell’s third full-length novel, our bruised narrator lights upon an idea. ‘I had this vision very clearly of a book in which I would record my total experience,’ he explains, not having given the impression of being a reader and so unlikely to know that such projects are presently in vogue. He goes on, ‘I knew how it should sound: with all the tones that no one ever admires, – the Gruesome, Tender, Needy, Sleazy, Boring, the Lurid and the Cute. In such terrible tones would I tell my kawaii tale … a little cascade with eddies and swirls, or an endlessly fidgeting fire.’

This announcement, which ends by comparing his ‘art of full confession’, ‘the only art form I achieved’, to a hamburger – ‘a multicoloured assemblage, sweet and greasy and delicious’ – makes it all the more difficult to be original in pointing out the less admirable qualities of the book that

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