Shizza my drizzle

William Skidelsky

  • Twelve by Nick McDonell
    Atlantic, 244 pp, £9.99, July 2002, ISBN 1 84354 071 1

Nick McDonell’s first novel (written, in case you haven’t read a newspaper recently, when he was 17) is set on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and focuses on a group of teenagers from that neighbourhood. With a couple of exceptions, the characters in the novel are immensely privileged: they attend – or have attended – boarding schools; they live in luxurious apartments belonging to their (often absent) parents; and they are used to being looked after by maids. At the same time, many of them attempt to connect themselves to less privileged existences: they shop-lift, deal drugs, fantasise about – and in some cases own – guns. Most of the time, the harm this causes is limited and trivial – they merely end up looking ridiculous. But it has some wider and genuinely alarming consequences.

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