Narcissism for Beginners ~ ‘Turning twenty-one, not much about me has changed, physically speaking. But nothing stayed the same either. My name grew longer and my bank balance got bigger -MUCH bigger. I have a bona fide Brit passport now and I’m not sure where home is anymore’
Today I am delighted to be joining Random Things Tours with my review for Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh.
I originally posted my review, with a Q & A feature, back in March 2017 and am delighted to re-post it here again in celebration of it’s recent paperback publication on September 20th.
A very quirky and rather unique read folks…
About The Book:
Meet Sonny Anderson. Budding author, ex-meth head, neurotic and Shaun of the Dead obsessive, about to tip headlong into adulthood.
Sonny doesn’t remember his mother because his father, Guru Bim, kidnapped him at the age of five and took him from his home in Scotland to a commune in Brazil. Since the age of eleven he’s lived in Redondo Beach, California, with his guardian Thomas, who on his twenty-first birthday throws his world wildly off course.
Armed with five mysterious letters and a list of names and addresses of people to visit, Sonny musters up the courage to leave his troubled past behind and return to the UK to finally learn the truth about his childhood.
But is it a truth he really wants to hear?
If you are looking for a novel that is slightly left of centre, Narcissism for Beginners is a book most definitely worth checking out.
It really is a coming-of-age story with a difference.
Sonny is just about to celebrate his twenty-first birthday but not quite in the way he expects.
Having experienced an extremely dysfunctional upbringing, Sonny lives with his guardian Thomas. Sonny has always been aware of a certain things about his childhood. He knew he was born in the UK in rather unusual circumstances. He was aware of living in Brazil for awhile and he had some knowledge of his father’s lifestyle, but of his mother he knew little.
Sonny has always believed she was out there waiting for him. He has lived a life of drugs and drink with a tendency toward OCD type characteristics. He also as an unnatural obsession with the movie Shaun of The Dead. On the morning of his birthday, a tradition is always followed, that involves watching Sonny’s favourite movie but this time Sonny knows something is wrong
‘The only clue pertaining to this being an irregular birthday was that Thomas’s battered old bright-yellow Amoeba Records shopper was able to stand unsupported on the kitchen table, instead of hanging semi-deflated from the chair’
Thomas presents Sonny with information that will take him on a journey of discovery, one where he will search for answers about his past and hopefully give him an opportunity to move forward with his future.
As a reader, you will travel with Sonny to the UK and Scotland where his story begins. Sonny meets people from his father’s past and he is finally able to fill in the gaps of what really happened to his parents.
Thomas has provided Sonny with five letters.
Each of these contain many of the answers Sonny has looked for all his life. Abducted by his father, a self-made Guru with his own extremely messed-up story, Sonny has very few memories of his childhood. Living his teenage years through a haze of narcotics in California, Sonny’s trip to the UK is very much out of his comfort zone. The noises, the sights, the ‘Englishness’ of everything, both amuse and distress him.
Sonny gets to meet some wonderful characters along the way and Martine McDonagh has portrayed these people through Sonny’s eyes in such a descriptive fashion.
‘Marsha Ray’s voice…Just the thought of the echo of it makes me want to punch the nearest seagull. I feel myself disappearing, being sucked along a desire line towards getting high, towards meth-land, tasting the bitter drip of it rolling from my nose to the back of my throat, reliving the burning rush of it, like my whole body is being fed through on of those high-speed hand dryers. And I miss that place so much I want to cry…Someone needs to remind me at this moment why drugs are a bad idea’
Sonny will learn the truth to the many questions he has had his whole life. As he continues his journey only he can decide if it is a truth he wishes to hear. Will he finally achieve the peace that he has for so long hoped to attain?
Martine McDonagh has written a highly original book with the discovery of the true meaning of ‘What Family Is’ at it’s core.
Told from the viewpoint of Sonny, we are exposed to his bouts of sarcastic humour and wit, alongside his depressed state of mind. He is a very likeable character and, as a reader, you find yourself rooting for him as you turn each page, in the hope that things will work out for him.
You, of course, will have to pick up a copy yourself to find out what happens….
Purchase Link ~ Narcissism For Beginners
Martine McDonagh used to work in the music industry, managing artists including James and Fujiya & Miyagi. She is now programme leader on the Creative Writing and Publishing MA at West Dean College in Sussex.
Her first book, I Have Waited, and You Have Come, was longlisted for the Authors’ Club First Novel Award. She has also published short fiction and journalism.
She lives in Brighton and is available for interview and events.
Twitter ~ @MartineM_Writer