Book review: Straight White Male by John Niven (William Heinemann)

Kennedy Marr is a lascivious Irish screenwriter. Twice divorced, a drinker and prone to insulting and screwing his way...

Kennedy Marr is a lascivious Irish screenwriter. Twice divorced, a drinker and prone to insulting and screwing his way around Hollywood, he hasn’t written anything in ages and is up to his eyeballs in debt. At fortysomething, he’s begun to loathe the meaninglessness of such hedonism and is lashing out at sycophantic actors and megalomaniacal directors, and – while his mother is dying back in Ireland – he’s also found time to calculate exactly how much of his life he has wasted wanking. When a literature award is controversially bestowed upon him, he reluctantly realises that this may be his only chance to address his financial and emotional shortcomings, but will Marr’s innate narcissism obliterate his attempt to grasp at this lifeline?

As an inside observer (having worked in the creative industries himself) author John Niven must have witnessed plenty of celebrity downfalls in his time, and is brilliant at mashing up real-life details with an imagined narrative. He also saves this outrageously funny, laddish fantasy from potentially dismissible frivolity by cleverly addressing the human struggle to find out what makes life worth living. You won’t be able to stop laughing, but you’ll also find yourself getting behind Marr, despite his flaws, and willing him not to blow it.

John Niven's novel 'Straight White Male' is published by William Heinemann on August 15 priced £12.99. Click here to buy a copy.

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