Now is the Hour (3 stars)

TOM SPANBAUER

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Now is the Hour (Jonathan Cape)

SOCIAL DRAMA

With a flower in his hair, 17-year-old Rigby John Klusener is hitching his way to San Francisco, reciting an abbreviated litany of the chain of events that forced him to come out: ‘Flacho, Acho, Billie Cody pregnant, Georgy Girl, my broken fucking heart.’ Spiralling like a smoke ring from the endless cigarettes consumed throughout, Rigby’s story starts and ends in the same place, the second and penultimate scenes identical.

Spending 500 pages inside an introspective teenager’s head can be difficult, and the supporting characters, including Rigby’s lover George Serano and best friend Billie Cody, are somewhat marginalised. It’s the small town itself, evoked through repetitive, claustrophobic accumulation of period detail, that exists most convincingly. There’s some strikingly beautiful writing here - even the one climactic moment of violence is tender and dreamlike - but the story of a good, bookish Catholic farming boy coming out to himself is not an especially new one.

(Kirstin Innes)

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