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Wild Abandon


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About the Author

Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea. He is the author of Submarine, which has been translated into fifteen languages and made into an acclaimed film directed by Richard Ayoade, and Wild Abandon, which won the 2012 Encore Award. A collection of his poetry is published as Faber New Poets 5. Joe Dunthorne lives in London and The Adulterants is his third


In his semiamusing second novel, Dunthorne (Submarine) once again saddles children with problematic parents. Eleven-year-old Albert and 17-year-old Kate chafe under the attention of their father, Don, and mother, Freya, who have founded a self-sustaining commune called Blaen-y-Llyn in South Wales. Home-schooled Kate yearns to be normal and forces her parents to enroll her in the local school, while Albert, obsessed with end times, is actively planning for the apocalypse. Meanwhile, the shrinking community is falling apart; Freya is thinking about taking Albert and leaving Don; and Kate moves in with her boyfriend's middle-class family. As a last ditch attempt to hold everything together, Don throws a rave and invites the local townsfolk. Dunthorne proves himself an equal opportunity satirist of both neo-hippie and petit bourgeois pretensions: after suffering a nervous breakdown, commune cofounder Patrick has a difficult time readjusting to the outside world, and Kate's boyfriend's father seems to have an agenda for Kate. Dunthorne revels in all the indignities his back-to-the-land characters have to endure, even returning to the early '90s recession to dramatize the commune's founding. Yet the satire is disappointingly uneven, and the uniformly unpleasant characterizations leave a sour aftertaste. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Dunthorne's sophomore effort centers on a modern Welsh commune, now struggling for relevancy and membership. Eleven-year-old Albert Riley is an odd duck, highly verbal, lonely, and susceptible to theories about the end of the world. His 16-year-old sister, Kate, flees the dysfunction by running off with a local "meathead," while their mother, Freya, retreats to a mud-walled yurt. Only Don, the misguided, egotistical father of the family and the original visionary for "the community," feels compelled to give a last-ditch effort to save everything he believes in. This novel could be charming and silly, but Dunthorne infuses it with a wry, dark humor that builds to a nearly terrifying conclusion. Albert and Kate's relationship, in particular, is complicated, realistic, and unsettling. VERDICT Dunthorne's debut, Submarine, was released as a film produced by Ben Stiller and became a quirky crowd favorite at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival; this second novel is primed to do the same. Think Juno or Bottle Rocket, then read the book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/18/11.]-Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A brilliantly comic tale of commune life going wrong . . . hilarious . . . very funny * The Times *
Warm, insightful comic writing * Independent on Sunday *
Riotous, hilarious, beautifully judged * Psychologies *
Wild Abandon is an engaging and emotionally stimulating, chuckle-out-loud read * Time Out *
As sublimely enjoyable as Submarine * Metro *
British fiction's Bright Young Thing * GQ *

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