The Arena of the Unwell

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The Arena of the Unwell

The Arena of the Unwell

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The Arena of the Unwell already feels like it belongs to a bygone era of indie sleaze, and is all the better for it.

Though this is a very difficult issue, it's introduced quite abruptly and then not referred to again so it felt like it was dropped into the narrative. It's interesting how (though ostensibly successful) this band member equally can't pull himself out of a downward spiral.It was an easy read, I got through it quickly, if it sounds like your kind of thing, go ahead; if not it’s not one I’ll recommend. As a lot of the book is about mental health and a toxic relationship, it can be intense, but also funny. Feels like the author was trying to do a few things and not quite committing enough to any of them; the obvious parallels between Noah and Ryan fell a bit flat or too on the nose, the meandering lack of plot okay until the plot suddenly picks up at the end, making you wonder if it was deliberate.

It still works, because Noah is so vivid and on one level, Noah’s difficulties make him self-absorbed. After he and his friend Mairead go to a secret comeback gig by their favourite band Smiling Politely, Noah runs into Dylan, a bartender he’s wanted to approach for ages.

Not in a ‘this story shouldn’t have finished here’ or a disappointing ending kind of way, just in a ‘I desperately want to read more about these people’ way.

But I grew increasingly frustrated and bored by this novel as Noah is caught in a continuous cycle of disaffection, drinking and inertia.I could empathise with Noah the protagonist’s mentality and mental health to an extent, and thought the way the author interspersed chapters with excerpts relating to his favourite band, ‘Smiling Politely’ (whose fates and fortunes join and juxtapose with his own), achieved a poignant pay-off. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. Queerness is just part of the novel, and that feels refreshing and not something I’ve seen in this kind of genre (though, admittedly, I’m not sure what kind of genre it is—music scene novel? People recoil and the shifting currents push everyone else closer together as she tracks blood through the first few rows. Es gab keinen richtigen Spannungsbogen- hat sich immer mal wieder gesteigert, mal ist die Blase geplazt.

His infatuation with Dylan is complicated by the fact that Dylan is ‘straight’ and by his living arrangements: Dylan lives with Fraser, an incredibly mercurial man who doesn’t take kindly to Noah ‘inserting’ himself into their lives. This is a natural response from someone with very low self esteem, but he also fails to engage in other people's lives in a way which might allow him to feel more connected and gain a sense of community. was not well developed enough for the conclusion to really affect me – it was all happening at a distance. Noah sometimes attends NHS therapy and struggles to navigate the system, particularly as a queer person. Eventually, his dishevelled appearance and tardiness get him in trouble at work, and Noah finds himself crashing at Dylan and Fraser’s place.

After a gig from his favourite band Smiling Politely turns sour, twenty-something Noah finds himself panicked on the streets of London. Crowds like this – the 10pm surprise set kind, the type who have been drinking all night before they get here – are easily unhinged, and Smiling Politely have been away too long. I also feel like for a character study, I don't feel like the characters developed much from page one to page 300.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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