Tuesday, 26 January 2016
The Sex Life of a Comedian - review
However, this is a novel, not a memoir, for which we can assume Thompson is thankful, because Doug Tucker's life is no bed of roses. Admittedly Doug seems to enjoy (with occasional regret and shame) the huge amount of (explicit) sex and drug taking he encounters, but there is a murky unpleasantness to his existence that shades into outright gangland violence. And Doug's luck rarely stays positive for long, while the car crash events that pull his life apart come with painful regularity.
To begin with, as we hear of Doug's extremely colourful sex life, it's hard not to think of this as a modern version of those 1970s 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' type books. I never read one, but my suspicion is that they would have had the same, rather simplistic narrating style, with a series of sexual escapades (though I doubt if the content of these were as explicitly portrayed as are Doug's). But as the Tucker story develops, I was reminded much more of the books of the once extremely famous Leslie Thomas.
In part it was the period feel - the first part of the book is set in the nineties, but it feels more like the seventies - but mostly it was the similarity to Leslie Thomas's classic story arc of a likeable but weak-willed central character who is manipulated sexually and practically by unpleasant people to produce a trajectory that begins with a degree of success but that ends in a disastrous spiral of destruction. Like the best of Thomas's central characters, Doug Tucker has an element of an innocent, introduced to a dark world that seems first enticing and then destructive. And he has a hint of mystery about him with his rabid dislike of children and frequent reference to his mummy's knife.
I had been warned about the sex scenes, which are definitely not suitable for reading on the train if the person next to you glances at your book (as I experienced), but I found the rampant drug taking more disturbing, while the ending seemed rushed and not entirely satisfactory. I certainly wouldn't buy this if you are easily shocked or looking for a jolly romp, rather than a gut-wrenching story. However, by the time I was a quarter of the way in I had to discover Doug Tucker's fate, and it's a book that I won't forget in quite a while.
The Sex Life of a Comedian is available as an ebook on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com, or as a paperback from Lulu.com