Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Lazy Boys

The Lazy Boys, by Carl Shuker
$11.70 at ISBN: 1593761236
Every generation of young men produces a novel like this one: here's a Holden Caulfield for our times. Richard "Souse" Sauer is a bitter and disenfranchised young college student from New Zealand, and is the tragic anti-hero of our story. It's set in New Zealand, a fun and somewhat exotic country but close enough to the former British empire so that most westerners can relate to him. In fact, the opening scenes could represent a teenage boy in any country.
He's home from college on spring break, and his parents are worried about how poorly he's doing in school. He's made a lot of low-life friends, lives in a seedy apartment, and seems to be majoring in Bong Studies. They try to talk some sense into him: Souse spends most of his time avoiding them, playing video games, masturbating in his bedroom, and occasionally even acting out through cruel acts against his lovable family dog, Snoopy. The animal brutality, especially, gives us a peek at the guy's dark insides: he's a good kid on some levels, but beating Snoopy up for being too affectionate shows he's got some real serious problems to work out.
Off at school, he's been accused of date raping a young co-ed, and the disciplinary committee is threatening to kick him out of school. Souse drowns his problems in an ocean of alcohol and a heap of heroin.
The alienation of youth is the theme. Don't look for too much of a story here, it's purely character driven. Why is he so disrespectful to his parents, who only want good things for him? Why the rampage of self-destruction? Anyone who's ever been a sullen teenager will recognize the type: not a bad kid, just horribly mixed up. We all pull for him, even though we hate the things he does. I'd recommend it if you're looking for something angry and belligerent: fans of A Clockwork Orange or the work of William Burroughs will love it. Very masculine and violent, it reminded me of the angry and rebellious periods of my own youth. Being a teenager: thank god I'll never have to do that again. Shuker shows promise as the voice of the new generation. Hopefully he'll mellow out a bit with age.

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