It may be the hip book du jour, and you may be put off by the fact that the writer is a rich Upper East Sider whose dad is friends with Hunter S Thompson, and by his being labelled the new Bret Easton Ellis, but I really recommend this. I usually take a couple of months to finish a book, because I only usually read them on my tube journey, which is ten minutes, and then only if I can be bothered and haven't got a magazine on the go. This one I began on the tube yesterday morning, carried on with at lunch, and had finished by 1am last night.
Basically it's like Less Than Zero, only not shit. Ridiculously well-off New York college/schoolkids living off their parents and throwing big druggy parties in their massive apartments. There's about ten of them who start out as separate characters, but inevitably end up intertwined, because "everyone knows everyone". McDonell's got the clothes, the patois, the pointless lives all dead-on, but without turning everyone into a bunch of empty idiots you don't care about. Mainly this is because we see most things through the eyes of their dealer White Mike who, ironically, doesn't do drink or drugs and finds the whole lifestyle numbingly depressing.
McDonell tells the story in succinct, two-page chapters, and this is what makes it so good - it's not one story, it's nearly a hundred stories. Each one is witty, economical and so vividly drawn that you suspect they must all be autobiography - until you realise that there's too many of them, they're too varied, and the guy was only 17 when he wrote the book. (I kept looking back at his photo on the inside cover in disbelief.) It reminded me of Anthropology by Dan Rhodes, with its bite-sized, self-contained chapters which stand up as mini-short stories on their own.
About halfway through I started to think about how you could turn Twelve into a film - and it'd be a really good New York film as well, given that the detailed locations are a bonus if you're as NYC-obsessed as me. Then I realised you wouldn't have to do anything, you could just film the book as it is. The pictures are all there in the text, as are Timmy and Mark Rothko, who are the funniest white-boys-pretending-to-be-black I've ever read. McDonell says he wants to write and direct films, and I can't wait for him to get on with it. Sadly, he also wants to go to university (Harvard) first.
Supposedly Bret Easton Ellis has invited Nick McDonell out for dinner, to give him some avuncular advice on the perils of his impending fame. I think it's more likely he wants to dash Nick's eyes out for inadvertently making him look so foolish.
Posts: 8111 | From: London | Registered: May 2002
| IP: Logged |
quote: Basically it's like Less Than Zero, only not shit
If they printed that on the jacket, it would double sales. Seriously- the only thing that put me off it is the thought of a plotless drudge through a land of brats being, like, fcuked up and stuff. You know, a book remarkable only because its author's so young.
It sounds closer to the portrayal of American teenagers on programmes like the Sopranos or 6 Feet Under- smart and priveleged but still dangerously clueless about most things. And if The Horse's cinematic eye began to flicker, chances are it's a really well-constructed & propulsive read with sharply realised characters.
Cool. Might give it a go.
Posts: 4303 | From: The Ministry of the New New Super Heavy Funk | Registered: May 2002
| IP: Logged |