Wednesday, 16 November 2016

BOOK REVIEW: NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST BY JACOB LOUIS BEANEY



NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST is an illustrated novella by Jacob Louis Beaney, self-published earlier this year by his Hickathrift Press. This darkly humorous confessional tale recounts the misadventures of an art school graduate as he attempts (and fails miserably) to make his way in the world without succumbing to a soul sapping 9 to 5. As in the protagonist's own words "I was just too old and filled with contempt for the general public to serve pannini's".

The hapless protagonist lives hand to mouth in a scummy flatshare in Nottingham, scraping by on his meagre Job Seekers Allowance. He becomes trapped in a cycle of depression and anxiety, compounded by his non-existent love life and the fact that somehow, despite an irregular and barely nutritious diet, he is not only unable to lose weight but actually puts it on. It is not all doom and gloom however, this is actually a very funny read and the plot moves along at a zippy pace. The protagonist never wallows in his own self pity for too long before he finds himself in another comical quagmire. 

My personal favourite portion of the story is when the protagonist returns to his home town to visit his family. The fictional Norfolk seaside town of Yarpool (nb: I don't know why Beaney chose to fictionalise the name of his home town having already used the actual city of Nottingham in the story. Maybe it was a little too close to the bone?). Being from a dilapidated seaside town myself I related to this section with a wry smile. Especially when he described the cultural mishmash of social classes gathered together at the opening of a new art gallery: "I remember amidst the drinking of cheap cider and boozy singalongs to The Clash songs, a middle class, middle aged woman politely trying to talk to my dad about publishing a children's book as he lay on the floor dribbling, smashed off his tits on ecstasy. It was a snapshot of what I think is great about the arts." 

This was a brief, but enjoyable read and many a millennial uni graduate with a "creative" degree will relate to the struggles of the protagonist. Of course very few will have had the wherewithal (or bloody mindedness) to pursue the bohemian lifestyle to quite the same lengths. 

Grab a copy of NOTES FROM AN OVERWEIGHT STARVING ARTIST from the Hickathrift Press Etsy shop right here.

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