How to Be Bad by David Bowker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“How To Be Bad” by David Bowker is an extremely funny book. The writing is so wonderfully hilarious that I was laughing out loud (LOL’ing) every other page. Some samples: “I slammed my fist into his midriff. It was like hitting a Henry Moore sculpture, but not as enjoyable”, “The gun was sexy. My God, I thought fine first editions were attractive enough, but knowing I was holding something that the L.A. cops used to shoot holes in innocent bystanders thrilled me beyond reason.” I will refrain from quoting various funny sexual references. I hope Mr. Bowker had as much fun writing this book as I had reading it. Tremendously entertaining!
My problem with the book is that entertainment is all I get from it. Either I am obtuse or there is nothing else in the novel. It is just extreme writing/reading fun. I cannot find much depth. Caro is deeply amoral, a sociopath. Mark is deeply moral, in search of sense of life. They love each other. They brutally kill many, many people. And the only two words I can say after having finished reading the book are: “So what?” There is a tiny bit of depth in the denouement, but spelling it out would entail spoiling it.
Now about what is good about the book. First and foremost: it is short, just 241 pages. Thank you, Mr. Bowker! Next, the novel is sort of recursive or, in other words, self-referential in many ways. For example, it begins with a guy coming into a bookstore and asking for the “most horrible” book. Further chapters of the novel provide the most horrible depictions of injury and death. The protagonist, Mark the bookseller, comments on a book by Mr. Bowker, the author of the novel. The last chapter is called "Thirty-one sentences"; guess how many sentences it contains. Etc.
Great fun and nothing else.
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