Wake up, Sir!
Every artist’s greatest fear is to be a fluke—to be lucky, rather than talented. They even say success early in an artists life can ruin a career; the pressure to maintain the reputation too great to bear.
Alan Blair is one of those artists. The novel follows a week in the life of the Princeton graduate as he battles his anxieties and alcoholism to write his second book; all looked on by his trusty valet, Jeeves.
The narrative meanders through Blair’s life theories and self-diagnosis of various mental, physical and sexual problems: his Mind/Mind problem, much like the Mind/Body problem, but where his mind tortures his mind; his transferred nose fetish from reading the cases of a German physiatrist as a teenager; or even his fantasy to be part of a homosexual couple in prison, as a cry to be loved even at his lowest emotional state; and let’s never forget the eternal ‘Jewish question’ …*
The book is deemed a modern adaption and homage to the (much referenced in the novel) Jeeves stories of P. G. Wodehouse. At times, the novel reads as a confusing mess of strange synaptic connections, and word association games (‘spelling bee, why not a hot-dog-eating bee?’). However, it maintains a dark, irreverent humour, giving a glimpse inside the mind of the ‘tortured artist’ and emotional sacrifice, pain, and misery they put themselves through in search of the ultimate artistic creation.
*The wordiness of this sentence fairly accurately relates to the wordiness of the novel.