Thursday, February 19, 2015

Glow: A Drug-Fueled Romp in South London

It's still early, but Ned Beauman's zany romp of a novel Glow is my favorite 2015 book so far. Beauman is one smart dude — and this novel reads a bit like what would happen if Tommy Pynchon (yeah, I call him Tommy. It's cool, we're boyz, remember?), Haruki Murakami, and Irvine Welsh all collaborated on a novel.

I loved Beauman's previous novel The Teleportation Accident, and while Glow might not be quite as good in total as that effort, it is definitely in the same vein — and you can almost see him giggling at his laptop as he writes. Believe me, it's just as much fun to read.

So the plot here is nuts: A guy named Raf, who lives in South London, is afflicted with something called "non-24-hour sleep/wake syndrome." It basically means he's on a 25-hour clock instead of our typical 24, and so he can't hold down a regular job or have normal relationships. He spends most of his time traversing the London drug and rave scene with his buddy Isaac, where, in the opening pages of the novel, he meets a beautiful, exotic woman named Cherish.

From there, boom goes the plot. Explosion outward, and to try to summarize it is a fool's errand. It includes a nefarious American mining company that has done untoward deeds in Burma, and is now trying to track down the producers of the new "it" party drug called Glow. There are mysterious foxes. There is a gay Serbian mobster, and a gay Burmese chemist. And there is a scruples-less public relations guy named Fourpetal who switches sides as frequently as an ecstasy-head tells you he loves you.

I will readily admit Ned Beauman isn't for everyone, and I'm not saying that to try to convince you I'm a smarter or more discerning reader than you. Quite the contrary — I enjoy Beauman's stuff because it appeals to my love of mixing high- and low-brow; insightful, profound writing and complicated plot mixed with blow job and fart jokes, e.g.

If you are a fan of more accessible, less zany Pynchon or Chuck Palahniuk or Irvine Welsh, I think you'll really dig this novel, too. It's quite the fun read.


  1. Great review. I can't wait to read this one as well. Beauman is a really unique writer.

    1. He sure is! Have you read Boxer, Beetle? I haven't, but definitely will soon. He's quickly become one of my favorite writers.