The Art of Falling Apart
Macmillan, London, 2001
dedication: To Mette
The blurb on the back:
Dystopia have burned up the European charts and now they're going to crack America. Their Vegas gig sold out in minutes, they're wall-to-wall on MTV and, best of all, the US Senate has condemned them.
This one's dangerously modern by the standards of this site, but I did always promise myself that rock & roll novels would be included regardless of publication date, and indeed regardless of quality.
Not that this is particularly awful. It's just dull in a way that's typical of so much of the modern fiction industry that's driven by big London publishers. You'll see from the opening lines quoted above, for example, that it's written in the present tense, which is so often an irritating affectation and a distraction. And then there's that terrible, sloppy habit inherited from 1980s sex & shopping novels of listing things instead of describing them. Here's the scene at a dinner party:
Bear in mind that I'm saving you from the sweet trolley, which would otherwise double the length of the passage. Frankly, this isn't writing. It is, however, what passes for observation in the degenerate world of modern fiction and it's rubbish. (or maybe I'm being unnecessarily unkind, and in 30 years time this is going to be excellent source material.)
Apart from these standard flaws, it's not a bad first novel, just very unexceptional. Mark Dawson used to play records at the Hacienda before becoming a media lawyer and the best bits are related to those two strands: a DJ who starts playing in a Camden Town goth club, and a management company putting together a new package to extricate the singer from his band. Other than that, we've got ourselves yet another off-the-shelf tale of rock & roll excess. Perfectly competent stuff, but really what's the point? Read Mötley Crüe's The Dirt and you'll find much more entertaining stories that have the added benefit of purporting to be true. All the novel can boast as an addition is a crime fiction element and that doesn't add up to a great deal.
And for those hoping that the Soft Cell title might promise some soiled glamour: sorry, there's none going on here.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 1/5
visit an interview with Mark Dawson