The Fuck Up, by Arthur Nersesian
A little while ago, when I was browsing through my favourite book shop, I noticed the title of this book in amongst the ‘cult’ section and I had to smile to myself. Picking it up to read the blurb, I instantly found myself attached to this story – “an aspiring writer searching for himself in spite of himself” – sounded a little bit like me, somebody just trying to find their place in this world and make something of themselves. I knew I had to buy this book there and then.
And now I have read the book from cover to cover, I still feel an affinity with it. Ok, so some of the things that happen to our unnamed protagonist will most likely never happen to me but I really connected with this fictitious character as someone just trying their best, getting glimmers of hope but ultimately being unlucky. I think the fact that he remains unnamed in this first person narrative makes him more relatable; it could be you! And the way that Nersesian has him describing his physical surroundings and his emotional state of mind, you can really feel for the character. In one particular scene, the protagonist is badly beat up and as I read, I found myself wincing at his pain.
The ending was a little unexpected and seemingly rushed, but overall the writing style of this coming-of-age story was very engaging and darkly humorous in places. I would definitely recommend it.
Inside the back cover there is a very brief bio about the author stating that he used to be an editor at a literary magazine and has worked at a community college in the Bronx. On reading this I couldn’t help but wonder if this book was semi-autobiographical; inspired by Nersesian’s own life before he started work at the magazine maybe??