An ambitious fiction debut filled with lust, longing, and moral depravity.
The tales in Too Beautiful for You, Rod Liddle’s dazzling debut, sweep readers into the lives of characters whose sexual frustrations and deviant desires lead them to the very edge of acceptable behavior—and sometimes way beyond.
In a mischievous, macabre tale about a man who loses his arm in an accident on the way back from an assignation, Liddle shows just how far a husband will go to hide his infidelity from his wife. Another philandering husband, operating much closer to home, doesn’t let fleeting pangs of guilt curtail his hunger for the sexual treats proffered by his mother-in-law. Bizarre happenings are not confined to the sexually adventuresome: one woman notices that her skin is hardening into a sort of insect carapace after she uses a depilatory gel; a suicide bomber is forced to acknowledge his abysmal failure as a terrorist when he tries to blow up a Jewish art gallery with a package of trout; and a man planning to jump out a window finds some of his colleagues all too ready to assist him.
Liddle presents his panoply of misfits and miscreants without passing judgment. The passions they harbor and the acts they commit may be shocking and scandalous, but Liddle shows that these hapless men and women are not so very different from the rest of us. Sharp-witted, sexy, and psychologically astute, Too Beautiful for You breaks through literary and social taboos with style and humor, reminiscent of the early work of Martin Amis.
Maxim meets Friends in this blithely irreverent story collection from British media's most unrepentant bad boy. Liddle, the former editor of a popular BBC radio show, recently aired the details of his rancorous divorce in the press; his journalist wife has also notoriously attacked him in print. All this comes as a fitting buildup to Liddle's debut, a collection of spicy, depraved tales loosely revolving around a clique of young Londoners who bungle their lives in pitifully sordid and vapid ways. Obsessed with the shallowest recesses of the male mind, Liddle makes much use of silly hyperbole that, while enjoyably frothy in spurts, should've been corralled by a tough editor. "The Long, Long Road to Uttoxeter" stretches thin as it chronicles the life-threatening depths to which a cheating man will sink while trying to deceive his wife. In "Sometimes Eating Marmite," yet another adulterer is spied in the act by an eclectic crowd of blips on the cultural radar; in "What the Thunder Said," a man shags his mother-in-law in the bushes while his wife fetches ice cream. Maybe this saucy set of tawdry tales will entertain bored commuters, but it won't satisfy anyone who's looking for something truly shocking from a bad boy: introspection.