Saturday, August 27, 2011

Submarine (revisited)

I finished reading Joe Dunthorne's Submarine today; the ending felt a little underwhelming, but I have a great affection for a book that includes the line
the patch of sodden mud that she has come to know as her sex organs.
Basically it's a note perfect rendition of the mindset of an adolescent male, bilious and sex-obsessed. In Swansea.

Actually, I suppose the whole book would feel even funnier (and more obscene) if read in a Welsh accent. But that might be the stuff of nightmares.

I was a little surprised how the plot differed from the film: what arcs were extended or omitted when it was adapted. Certainly the film has an ending that's less ambiguous than the book, but the book didn't leave me with a neck that wasn't working and several weeks of physiotherapy.1

However, the protagonist, Oliver Tate, is much more unpleasant on the page than on the screen. A worthy Welsh successor to the hero of A Confederacy Of Dunces, perhaps. But while that's ok for a while, having him in your company for three hundred pages can be draining; in general I don't like to hang around with snotty teenagers because they're, well, snotty. And teenaged. So by the end I was glad to be shot of him.

If I was an overly verbose teenager, maybe I'd adopt Oliver as my role model. Then again, I didn't think I wanted to be Renton from Trainspotting when I was a young oik, so let's not hypothesise about things we can't test. I think it's fair to say though, if you enjoy books about the petty foulness of person to person, and you don't want much in the way of resolution, positive or not, then this could be the book for you.

1Funnily enough, there's a physiotherapist in the book, completely omitted from the film.


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