Wednesday, April 21, 2010

book review - Tofu Landing - Evan Maloney

"He had moved to London two years earlier because it had an appeal that even the greyest skies could not darken. it was a place where anyone could lose themselves, a place where anyone could lose themselves, a place where anyone could remain anonymous."

Take the idea of a bunch of people that live for pleasure and put it in a book that charts their excesses and eventual crash to earth and you have Tofu Landing in a nutshell. But add to that mix some characters that reflect back at the reader celebrities that they would recognise and a culture of drug taking they might have suspected existed and you have a mix that is much more challenging.

The reader is challenged here to make up their mind about not just how they feel about the house full of extreme characters but also the wider world they inhabit. Sitting on the shoulder of failed artist Declan Twist you enter a drug fueled world where no one is real, where fame is desperately hunted and where ironically there is a media world ready to support just those sorts of ambitions.

As the quote on the back says "If you arrive in London knowing nobody then you have the power of an actor improvising onm a stage". Declan is surrounded by people that decide to follow their own rules from the Tracey Emin like Bridget who manages to fool the art world with her Polaroid art show of blurred poor quality pictures, Juliet a pharmaceutical rep who has a drug dealing business on the side, Drake who sells drugs but dreams of being an actor and the Pete Doherty like Tristan and his girlfriend who plough through the drugs and onto the pages of weekly gossip magazines.

None of them is real but they are all aiming to get something that they believe is real but as they find out the fame game is a cruel one and luck can turn on a nine pence and after the death of one of their group the limited gel that held them together disintegrates. Through it all Declan is more than a removed observer and is quite capable of taking as much drugs as the rest of the group, taking the media dollars by appearing on TV and falls in love with Juliet. But he decision to finally leave that world is one that show it is possible to grow up and exit the party.

There are moments when the drug taking gets too much and the characters become so loathsome it's difficult to see where the story will be resolved but Maloney is trying here to take you on that journey and hoping that you will make the same resolution as Declan and see the shallow world of chasing fame and celebrity for exactly the hell it is.

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