Debut Comic Novel Likened to Waugh

The American Conservative magazine carries a review by Chris R. Morgan in its digital edition of a first novel that he compares favorably with Evelyn Waugh’s own debut:

In the annals of comic writing, fewer debuts are seemingly as auspicious as that of Eve Tushnet’s novel Amends. One might have to even go back into ancient history, to Evelyn Waugh’s Welsh-bashing days of Decline and Fall to find something roughly comparable. A typical Eve Tushnet sentence sparkles like gem cut to break the skin when held, while her dialogue washes down like a dry martini laced with ipecac. Tushnet also has a talent for making one feel inadequate about one’s own ability to craft decent similes. So let’s just say that Eve Tushnet is funny, and bitterly so.

After a fairly detailed description of the story, which involves an MTV reality program that follows its substance-abusing participants through rehab, the review again alludes to Waugh in its conclusion:

Our addictions, maladies, and transgressions cannot be undone, we can accept that they have happened and change by them. In this sense, Amends is Catholic literature that harks back less toward Evelyn Waugh’s social irreverence and more toward Flannery O’Connor’s grace-through-suffering, with added emphasis on reconciliation. Therapy and recovery are mere balms without the work of receiving mercy and being merciful.

To make any sense of that, perhaps you have to have read the book. The novelist is also the author of a 2014 memoir entitled Gay and Catholic.

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