This is me upside down

Theo Tait

  • Kapow! by Adam Thirlwell
    Visual Editions, 81 pp, £15.00, May 2012, ISBN 978 0 9565692 3 3

You might think that Adam Thirlwell, as an author of self-absorbed sex comedies, had no obvious credentials for writing about the Arab Spring (the title of his first novel, Politics, was a joke). But according to the narrator of his avant-gardeish new novella Kapow!, his lack of knowledge about the subject is what makes the project so interesting and avant-gardeish. At least I assume this is the case, since we hear enough about it. The book is constructed in the Richard Rogers style, with all the functional background stuff displayed ostentatiously on the outside. There is a Thirlwellesque narrator, a writer who lives in East London, drinks a lot of coffee, and has recently ‘got back into the practice of dope’. He wants to tell us ‘this tale of an ordinary guy called Rustam’, an Uzbek taxi driver, exiled from his own country and caught up in a revolution (which seems to be in Egypt, though the local detail is deliberately non-specific and at times contradictory). But he also wants to tell us how he got hold of the story, how he’s constructing it, and why that’s a good idea.

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