Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: The Art of Failing by Anthony McGowan

Anthony McGowan is not right. If you too, are of the not right variety (as I am), you'll find him inappropriately hilarious and hilariously inappropriate. I'd throw in some quotes from the book to prove it but I'm afraid I'd want to use so many I'd be charged with copyright infringement. This is a very British, very droll book. The cover is truly egregious and I'm only sad that its lack of appeal (it's a banana so lack of a peel, get it? Yeah, groaner for sure.) kept me from picking this up sooner.

Written as mostly brief, almost daily observational diary entries over the span of a year (plus a few days), there's little to no narrative arc here but, trust me, you won't care. And when McGowan does in fact refer back to something in a previous entry, the reader feels as if she is an insider, someone included in McGowan's private meanderings, like an old friend would be. Each entry is fairly short and generally highlights a happening in McGowan's marriage, his professional life, or just everyday life that could, quite probably, happen only to him.  We all have that one friend who is one disaster and humiliation after another, right?  The bits he records are funny, well-written, and oftentimes cringe-inducing (but in a good way--if there can be a good way of cringing). He focuses on the personal, the embarrassing, and the hilarious failures, inviting the reader to laugh along with him at these nutty and outrageous occurrences. His intelligence is clear to the reader paying attention, his wit is in sharp focus, and it is patently obvious that he adores his wife and children, even if he claims to have no idea why Mrs. McG. puts up with his shenanigans and less than ideal person. He does make fun of others on occasion but most of the time he's busy taking the piss out of himself. I truly laughed aloud at quite a few passages and thoroughly enjoyed my tenure in the pages of McGowan's life. If he'd write more diary entries, I'd happily read them, lack of narrative arc be damned.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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