cover image Theft


Luke Brown. And Other Stories, $17.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-911508-58-8

Brown’s clever U.S. debut examines the challenges of contemporary life in London as experienced by an underachieving 30-something journalist. Paul Wright works at White Jesus, a magazine that, he admits, has a “toxic level of irony.” His editors pay him twice as much for cheeky reviews of London haircuts than for his book column, which is in danger of being axed. The book column leads Paul to Emily Nardini, a beautiful author with whom Paul is soon smitten, despite the fact that she lives with a famous historian. Aside from traversing a shaky career, Paul faces the looming loss of his dirt-cheap flat, where Jonathan, the White Jesus advertising director and Paul’s friend from journalism school, is couch surfing. The first half of Brown’s narrative takes the form of conversations between Paul and the other characters, while the second part adds Paul’s side of conversations with his therapist to the mix. Everything from gender and class inequality to Brexit, art, and life goals are discussed with quite a bit of drinking and a fair amount of drugs, with Paul emerging just short of hapless. This tragicomedy successfully captures the feeling of what it’s like to yearn for a stable home, career, and love today. (Apr.)