The first of McGahan's novels to be published in his native Australia (but, in narrative terms, a sequel to his American debut, 1988), this engaging, ill-starred slacker romance gives us the second chapter in the life of asthmatic, 23-year-old college dropout Gordon Buchanan. Gordon's one of those guys who radiate sexiness by being everything unvirile: uninterested in exercise, unambitious, unsocial, unwilling even to contemplate the first move. After quitting his job in a bottle shop, Gordon means to retire to his low-rent room in Brisbane for an indefinite bout of sulking and TV-watching. His plans are interrupted when his naturally manic (but heroin-injecting) co-worker Cynthia invites him to spend an evening at her parents' house--which stretches (by way of several 12-packs) into a week. Cynthia, who's been signaling for sex with the subtlety of a sailor, finally demands it (typically, Gordon remarks that ""he just hadn't thought about it"") and thus consummates their drug-addled relationship. McGahan brings off this unpromising reprise of grunge themes by consistently understating Gordon's reactions to the frenzy of drinking, tripping and doping in which he finds himself. There's a certain charm in the way Gordon's sexual style, which has all the excitement of an old man playing checkers, contrasts with Cynthia's, which is like a pornographic version of World Championship wrestling. Gordon is a version of Camus's Mersault on downers, if you can envision such a thing; sure, he makes an existential choice by the end of the book--he decides not to get a job, after all. (July) FYI: St. Martin's published the paperback edition of 1988 in 1997.
Reviewed on: 05/18/1998 Release date: 08/01/2001 Genre: Fiction