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Submarine

by Joe Dunthorne

A first novel written by a Welsh poet and not at all what I expected - not many books make me laugh out loud but this one did! It's the story of Oliver, a teenager, full of angst, self obsession and curiosity and part of a dysfunctional family. Oliver is a cross between Adrian Mole, Christopher (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) and Holden Caulfield. A definite edge there along with the humour.

Extract

... I have been using covert analysis to discover my parents' secrets. One of the things I have discovered is that, although my father's beard looks ginger at a distance, when you get close it is in fact a subtle blend of black, blond and strawberry. I have also learnt that my parents have not had sex in two months. I monitor their intimacy via the dimmer switch in their bedroom. I know when they have been at it because the next morning the dial will still be set to halfway. I also discovered that my father suffers from bouts of depression. I found a bottle of tricyclic antidepressants that were in the wicker bin under his bedside table. I still have the bottle among my old Transformers. It takes all of my intuition to find out when a bout of my father's depression has started. Here are two signals: one, I can hear him emptying the dishwasher from my attic room. Two, he presses so hard when he handwrites that it is possible, in a certain light, to see two or three days of notes indented in the surface of our plastic easy-clean tablecloth.
...'Please record channel 4, 9pm, LLoyd '
My father does not watch TV, he just records things. There are ways of detecting that a bout of depression has finished: if dad makes an elaborate play on words or does an impression of a gay or oriental person. These are good signs.

Parallels

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole age 133/4 by Sue Townsend
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
 

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