The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness: A Memoir

Graham Caveney. Simon & Schuster, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6596-2
Caveney (‘The Priest’ They Called Him) delivers a sharp, poignant memoir of anxiety and abuse. Growing up bookishly skittish in working-class 1970s northern England—“Writing about my working-class childhood feels like slipping on hand-me-down clothes”—Caveney nevertheless plots his own arc, while emboldening himself with the books of Kafka and the music of the Buzzcocks and Joy Division. The chronological plot of his youth is laid out in cinematic detail, including his mother’s dinners of meat and mushy peas (“food that is designed with insulation in mind”) and his dalliances with revolutionary Marxism and capital-L Literature (“I told her that after the revolution everyone would be a poet”). But a shadowy fury underlies this nervous self-deprecation, borne out of his being raped as a teenager by a priest who groomed his insecurities with predatory calculation. As the memoir lurches forward in jaunts of youthful self-discovery and setbacks, Caveney writes with stabs of both fury and self-denial (“This doesn’t matter. It’s not important. I’m not even here”) and anguished pleas to his abuser in order to make sense of it all. The result is an acidic, longing, and enraged memoir set to a postpunk soundtrack. (July)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 07/03/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-5098-3067-1
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-5011-6598-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-68441-374-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-6651-3528-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-6651-3527-6
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