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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Book Review | Here Are The Young Men

Book Review | Here Are The Young Men

Rob Doyle's debut novel seems to be an updated, if timely, version of 'A Clockwork Orange'

A still from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’.Premium
A still from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

Ultraviolence, anyone?

This is not the kind of book that I usually read, or rather, it’s the kind of book that I haven’t read in many years—a book about the angst of young males who grow up with no hope, no future.

Rob Doyle’s book is set in the contemporary teenage wastelands of Dublin, where a group of four boys have just finished their school-leaving exams and have turned a jaundiced eye upon what lies ahead. Most immediately, they face an empty summer, which they proceed to fill to the brim with drugs of all kinds and as much sex as they can get—which is not really that much.

Blurbs for the book, a first novel, call it “dark and intoxicating", “powerful and provocative", “unflinching...uncompromising". The final cliché that nails the coffin shut, as it were, is this: “It shines a light into a relatively unexplored region: the psyches of youth adrift in a world where old verities no longer exist." Dear reviewer from The Sunday Times, perhaps you missed descriptions of these same “unexplored regions" over the years in such gory tales as A Clockwork Orange or The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea or even the recent Trainspotting—all of which Here Are The Young Men recalls with some ferocity. Sure, the drugs are different, the stimuli are different, but the inner landscape of alienation, the contempt for bourgeois society, the nascent and manifest violence, are the same.

In Dublin, Matthew, Rez, Cocker and Kearney hang together, chasing down drugs and chugging beer and vodka all day long. Girlfriends and parents make shadowy appearances but, basically, it is the four boys who are in sharp focus. Though a tight little group at school, the boys begin to drift apart, each following his own twisted path to a personal hell. Cocker, the mildest of the lot, seems to be making new friends, Rez finds himself increasingly unable to reconcile himself to the contradictions and hypocrisy he sees around him, Matthew lurches between trying to find love with Jen and being sucked into Kearney’s growing violence. Of course, there is a “shattering climax"—the story could only head in one direction, after all. 

Here Are The Young Men: Bloomsbury, 298 pages, 350.
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Here Are The Young Men: Bloomsbury, 298 pages, 350.

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Updated: 10 Jan 2015, 12:41 AM IST
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