An ambitious fiction debut filled with lust, longing, and moral depravity.
The tales in Too Beautiful for You, Rod Liddle's dazzling debut, sweep readers into the lives of characters whose sexual frustrations and deviant desires lead them to the very edge of acceptable behavior--and sometimes way beyond.
In a mischievous, macabre tale about a man who loses his arm in an accident on the way back from an assignation, Liddle shows just how far a husband will go to hide his infidelity from his wife. Another philandering husband, operating much closer to home, doesn't let fleeting pangs of guilt curtail his hunger for the sexual treats proffered by his mother-in-law. Bizarre happenings are not confined to the sexually adventuresome: one woman notices that her skin is hardening into a sort of insect carapace after she uses a depilatory gel; a suicide bomber is forced to acknowledge his abysmal failure as a terrorist when he tries to blow up a Jewish art gallery with a package of trout; and a man planning to jump out a window finds some of his colleagues all too ready to assist him.
Liddle presents his panoply of misfits and miscreants without passing judgment. The passions they harbor and the acts they commit may be shocking and scandalous, but Liddle shows that these hapless men and women are not so very different from the rest of us. Sharp-witted, sexy, and psychologically astute, Too Beautiful for You breaks through literary and social taboos with style and humor, reminiscent of the early work of Martin Amis.
Maxim meets Friends in this blithely irreverent story collection from British media's most unrepentant bad boy. Liddle, the former editor of a popular BBC radio show, recently aired the details of his rancorous divorce in the press; his journalist wife has also notoriously attacked him in print. All this comes as a fitting buildup to Liddle's debut, a collection of spicy, depraved tales loosely revolving around a clique of young Londoners who bungle their lives in pitifully sordid and vapid ways. Obsessed with the shallowest recesses of the male mind, Liddle makes much use of silly hyperbole that, while enjoyably frothy in spurts, should've been corralled by a tough editor. "The Long, Long Road to Uttoxeter" stretches thin as it chronicles the life-threatening depths to which a cheating man will sink while trying to deceive his wife. In "Sometimes Eating Marmite," yet another adulterer is spied in the act by an eclectic crowd of blips on the cultural radar; in "What the Thunder Said," a man shags his mother-in-law in the bushes while his wife fetches ice cream. Maybe this saucy set of tawdry tales will entertain bored commuters, but it won't satisfy anyone who's looking for something truly shocking from a bad boy: introspection.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
January 02, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Too Beautiful for You by Rod Liddle
marian sits, hunched with loathing, over her computer terminal as the clock on the wall hits thirteen. Most of the rest of her colleagues--those working today--are out; in pubs and wine bars and dinky sandwich stations, venting grievances over glasses of New World Chardonnay and warm goat's cheese salads. Marian would very much like to be out with them; her stomach is rumbling and she has deep, festering grievances to be divulged along with the best of them. But instead, she must sit and wait for a workman to come and mend one of the large windows in the middle of the office, the ancient metal frame of which will not close properly and which has been wedged into place with a copy of the 1997 International Who's Who, as a makeshift, temporary measure.
This waiting is a task with no official demarcation, and everybody--save for maybe one or two of the middle managers--possesses the intellectual capacity to do it. But Bavins, who on her first day here she mistook for an escaped mental patient, a deeply troubled soul who had, perhaps, wandered inside in search of refuge but who was, in fact, everybody's boss, nervily asked if Marian would mind doing it and left before she could demur.
So she sits there, her stomach grumbling with anger, the Anger of the Just, as the loudspeaker reports the deaths of 165 people in Zurich, where a plane has just crashed into some flats. Hearing this news, and noticing the palpable excitement amongst her colleagues, she wonders when it was that the anger took hold and made the rest of the world, outside this building, seem smaller and of markedly less consequence. She hears people gibbering about Osama and al-Qaeda and she tries to think of the awful fireball approaching and the panic and the noise and the pyrolytic reek of burning aviation fuel and those microseconds of blind terror and all she can concentrate on is the window repairman with his bag of tools and triplicate dockets to sign.
When she first started work here she was eager to be a part of everything, and, although people told her to watch out, it's a poisonous atmosphere, like Mercury, and full of pettiness, rancour and contumely, she dived in with delight. Now, when she arrives for work each morning and leaves the sluggish lift at the eighth floor, she sometimes loses her footing on the bile and gall which seep out from every office doorway.
Eight floors down, Dempsey hunches over his computer terminal and considers which would be the best way of killing himself. By best, he means a method which would allow at least seven people to stop him, including his girlfriend--his former girlfriend, Lucy. Last night he arrived home at, what, three, four? After being told again that it was all over between them--a long, tearful session which ended in him being sick in the driveway of his own home and later crying for long anguished hours on his wife's shoulder. So he looks pretty wrecked now and a numbness has descended and despite all those poor people killed on the Garuda plane, which is what really should be concerning him--that and the fact that those nutters seem to have done it again, and what will happen now?--all he can think of are new and preferably decisive ways to persuade Lucy that this thing between them, whatever it is, can, you know, work.
Or at least be prolonged.
And sort of killing himself is what he comes up with, feeling as raw and woebegone and hungover and unshaven as he does at this moment and seeing pictures of charred remains being separated from blackened concrete, up there on the television monitor, that cold Swiss morning.
You think it would be a big deal, killing himself for Lucy? It would be no great sacrifice, really, he thinks, full of self-disgust and self-pity, tapping the keys on his computer to bring up the revised casualty figures and the latest apocalyptic speculations. He has been, for some years now, expedient in a professional sense. His job, despite the impressive (but meaningless) grade, is an island bypassed by all the currents of work--and indeed precisely designed to be such. His stock, before he started seeing Lucy, was pretty low. But Lucy acted as a sort of surrogate promotion; you could see it in the eyes of their colleagues when they were spotted out together . . . people began almost to take him seriously again. Or semi-seriously, at least. The man who's fucking Lucy Dow! But now Lucy has stopped seeing him eleven times in the last two months, each time more definitely than the time before, and Dempsey can't take it any more, he has used up every ounce of persuasiveness, every trick in the book, to keep them together and he is looking ragged and defeated and absurd. Killing himself, hell, he thinks, it would be a mercy.