New Boy (英語) マスマーケット – 1998/8/4
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NEW BOY is a dark modern comedy about the hormonal angst of a Jewish lad growing up in north-west London's bagel belt. "Sutcliffe has managed to pull off a worthy British companion to Portnoy's Complaint" Jay Rayner,Observer "Well-written,clever and very funny" Literary Review "Smart,entertaining stuff...somewhere between Adrian Mole and Holden Caulfield" Philip Hensher,Mail on Sunday
William Sutcliffe was born in London in 1971, and was educated at Cambridge. He is the author of five novels for adults, and two young adult novels. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and three children.
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Nevertheless, after erading his absolutely wonderful "Bad Influence" (which I really do recommend strongly), I found this book a little of a let down. This book contained much of the same gritty realism, and insight into the young adult mind. Part of the problem here was the subject matter was just too painfully realistic and reminiscent of an awkward stage of late adolescence. The language is extremely "school yard" - which is again realistic, but just fely that much stronger in print. When I got to the page with the phallic drawings, I was extremely embarrassed to be reading this book in a public place.
I had a skim through some other reviews before writing my own for this book, and the reviewer who gave this book 1 star claims he could not even finish it. Well I did finish it, but like him I found myself wondering why I was bothering. The book seemed almost tediously long (and it really isn't that huge). By the end I just wanted it to be over.
Nevertheless I cannot give this writer less than 3 stars because the book fails for the same reason that it is so strong. This is a marvelously insightful view on a self obsessed boy, Mark, and his relationship with the new boy at school, Barry. Mark worries about his own sexuality, especially as he is turned on by Barry.
I have read, I think, three or four other books ever with similar sexual confusion amongst the main characters and this was really the only one that explored the themes honestly and faithfully through the eyes of the teenage protaganist. All the others seemed to be romantic visions of how the authors wish they had behaved at that age. This was the first book that actually read like the character really was a teenager.
So in summary, this is a wonderfully perceptive work that faithfully captures the teenage mind and a snapshot of a teenager's life, complete with plenty of humour. The only question for potential buyers is whether that is really a place you want to go.
First of all, the title of the book is "New boy" but only a small part of the book is actually about the new boy, Barry. Instead most of it is about its narrator, Mark, and never have I met a character that got on my nerves that quickly. He will spend three or four pages telling a story only to end it with "but that's actually not really what happened. I made it up because the truth would have been too boring" and this happens in chapter after chapter. He's also just plain nasty - he will humiliate other people in order to be "one of the boys" and doesn't see anything wrong with it unless the victim turns out to be stronger than him and he generally has absolutely no empathy for other people. Everything in his world revolves around himself.
Second of all, it is being marketed as a gay love story but apparently no one has told this to William Sutcliffe as the book deals mostly with what it was like to be in an all-boys school in the mid-80'es with various anecdotes (some quite funny, I'll give him that) thrown in here and there. It reads like William Sutcliffe wanting to share stories from his own days at school but thinking that he had better dress them up as a novel to get people to read them (and then he doesn't even include that many stories).
All in all this is a book with little plot and narrative drive and an extremely unpleasant main character and although it does offer an occasional chuckle here and there it is simply not worth neither the time nor the money. Best avoided.