Fuccboi by Sean Thor Conroe review – nerve, verve and hardly any verbs

recently, the prospects for youthful, straight, male american novelists of disobedient talent who aspire to more than underground realization haven ’ thyroxine looked peculiarly bright. Stateside culture war partiality has narrowed the bandwidth of permissible literary expression, with the heterosexual white male regarded as inherently suspect. To get along under the new ordain, ambitious young Americans might be tempted to walk on eggshells while presenting themselves as paragons of virtue – and protest could spell career suicide. ( If the general point seems exaggerated, recall that Americans elected Donald Trump as their president of the united states, then ask yourself how many pro-Trump literary novelists you can name. ) Into this worry monoculture steps Sean Thor Conroe, with his winningly titled first novel, Fuccboi. The challenge he confronts is a real pickle : how to update the custom of the American male autobiographical novelist, writing about the concerns of a twentysomething on the make ( which naturally include wrong-think and that notoriously baffling condition, lust ) without censoring himself into blandness. To pull it off and remain credible, he may have to play both sides : writing neither as smirk literary beta-cuck, nor as obtuse and toxic reactionary. Magas to the leave of me, wokists to the right !

Fuccboi’s main claim to newness lies in the narrator’s middle-way attitude to the ball-aching social justice religion that clogs the air of American cultural life

Set between late 2017 and summer 2019, Fuccboi is an autobiographical picaresque that follows its narrator, Sean, as he attempts to become a published writer, endures an alarming clamber condition, cycles around Philly in his job with a food delivery party, hustles on a ledger podcast and deals with the side effect from his sexual activity life ( “ x bae ”, “ side bae ” and “ editor program bae ” are his sexual love interests, while male friends go by single initials : Z, C, V ). back in 2014, he tried and failed to walk across the US, then wrote a fresh about it which he is now trying to sell with the help of editor bae, a wake up feminist starting out in New York publish ( their work kinship is complicated by our hero having sleep with her ). History simmers just out of nip – “ After navigating by two patrol blockades for an anti-Proud Boys march, I finally found a augury to lock my bicycle to. ”

This international relations and security network ’ t a plot novel, nor even much of a history novel. Conroe bets most of his chips on voice and by and big his writing has adequate appeal and freshness to keep him solvent. Americans have always been at the vanguard of minimalist prose, from Hemingway to Tao Lin. Conroe ’ s punchy discrepancy includes rap slang and internet talk, bc that ’ s how it is now, bruh. He besides fucks with those one-line paras. Quick blunt insights, stacked up newton damn. It ’ sulfur rather playfulness. frequently curious !

No verb needed in this dandy ’ randomness bars. Word. What koran people have recently started calling autofiction has a clear parallel in rap – a lingual art imprint in which practitioners exploit their biography stories in familiar first-person reports, inviting the hearer to both thrill at the personal disclosure and identify with the rapper ’ randomness struggles and triumph. The egotism is franker ( rappers are less abashed to drop a sex boast ) but the narrative scheme is basically the same – a crossover voter was only a matter of time. Sean is a SoundCloud knocker and along with his digressive hot takes on poetry and books ( Knausgaard, Sheila Heti ) are reflections on rappers such as XXXTentacion and Lil B. Fuccboi ’ s chief claim to newness lies in the narrator ’ mho middle-way position to the ball-aching sociable judge religion that clogs the publicize of american cultural life, demanding moral and doctrinal purity. A reader of Nietzsche and Houellebecq, Sean cultivates a “ hatred of neoliberal feminism ” and rankles at “ woke kids ” and the “ priggish, ultimately fascistically western roots of their apparently woke language-censoring ” ( his irascibility fuels such tin-eared, adverb-clogged phrasing ). elsewhere, though, the internalize contradictions of his dementing culture manifest in amusing ways. unable to get an erection while in go to bed with “ side bae ” and offering her checkup advice alternatively, Sean feels intoxicated and “ about turned on ” by his “ wokeness ”. In another scenery, he is thrilled to move in with a female housemate because doing so “ immediately established me as non-predatory. Like Fuck outta here – I live with a woman ! ” Those who fear that US writers now come to us filtered through a de facto system of censoring will not be reassured by a fit in which Sean ’ south unpublished novel is subjected to an edit that erases “ every savage, ugly, testosterone-fuelled, black thing it had been most unmanageable to write ”.

By this weave novel ’ s final one-third, I was nobelium longer sure what the story was meant to be about, beyond the narrator ’ second ongoing presence on the page. The auto-novelist ’ mho liberation from plot comes at the price of submergence in life ’ s all-important formlessness. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being led through the vagaries of Sean ’ s “ sus hetero bro ” universe and appreciated his try to do what in 2020s America is slippery verging on forbidden : to write like a man, not an ideal .

  • Rob Doyle ’ s most recent book is Autobibliography
  • Fuccboi by Sean Thor Conroe is published by Wildfire ( £16.99 ). To support the Guardian and Observer holy order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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