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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Book Review: Ben Brooks' "Lolito"

Ben Brooks’ latest novel is a dysfunctional, seedy, strangely touching, teen love story. Fifteen year old Etgar is an anxious, sexually frustrated teenager, devastated at discovering his girlfriend has been unfaithful to him. While his parents are away on holiday he lives out his days in a drunken haze, ignoring his friends and turning to adult chat rooms for entertainment.

This is where he meets Macey, a thirty-something mother of two, single, lonely and desperately seeking comfort and fulfilment. But is she what she seems? Here, Brooks triumphs; what could easily become simply grubby erotic scenes, are in fact scenes written with pathos. His ability to switch between ludicrous faux sex acts, written with great humour, and moments of painful reality, demonstrates a skill which belies his youth.

Laugh out loud funny, odd, and strangely sincere, Brooks challenges our perception of age-gap relationships via Etgar’s often bizarre narrative. While Etgar’s choices appear to be his own, this is subtly undermined by the childish language the boy uses to describe sex and intimacy. Yet the relationship between Etgar and Macey is one from which they both gain comfort and some measure of understanding. In this way, the story remains nuanced, and the author refrains from drawing any definitive conclusions on this controversial subject.

Lolito is a novel unlike anything I’ve read before: compelling, funny, and a true tale for our time. Ben Brooks is a writer to watch out for.

This review was first published at Literature Works.

Buy the book: Lolito
Buy for kindle: Lolito

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