Ned Beauman is an arsehole.
Thank god also for Granta and their lists, by whose definition I still easily qualify as ‘young’. Plenty of time left yet.
And then I read this and am blown away. And then I read the author bio which informs me that Mr. Beauman was born in 1985 and is thus so young that he’d create a genuine moral dilemma for many were he to commit a gruesome triple-murder in the American bible-belt. Yes, he’d deserve the chair but it’d also technically count as a late-term abortion. What to do?
Look at this:
… he had an educated, ironic, very English manner, at once sharply penetrating and affably detached, like someone who would always win the bets he made with strangers at weddings on how long the marriage would last but would never bother to collect the money.
And then look at this:
‘I will bet you anything you like – sorry, Hitler? Do you mean Adele’s father?’
‘Right, as I was saying, I will bet you anything you like that this other Hitler, whoever he is, will never make one bit of difference to my life.’
‘Careful, Egon,’ said Achleitner. ‘That’s the sort of remark that people quote in their memoirs later on as a delicious example of historical irony.’
I know that out of context that second passage comes across as a bit too arch and knowing, as obviously self-indulgent meta-wank. In situ however it’s just a bit cheeky. Have you any idea how much talent you need to have to indulge in stuff like that and get away with it? The protagonist is an utterly wretched no-hoper called, wait for it, Loeser.
For fuck’s sake. It’s all too much, it’s all too clever, it’s all too pleased with itself in the manner of a horny and pretentious sixth-former with a copy of Roget’s and too much time on his hands. Yet it works, and works brilliantly.
So Ned Beauman is an arsehole, but his book is very, very good.