Joe Stretch - The Adult (4 stars)

Joe Stretch - The Adult

A sad, funny and true family saga from author, musician and academic Stretch

Author, musician and creative writing lecturer Joe Stretch’s third novel is a tragi-comic coming-of-age story/family saga narrated with a sardonic sense of humour by a lost lad named Jim Thorne. Growing up in the north of England in the 1990s, Jim is heir to the multi-talented Albrights, the four sisters on his mother’s side of the clan who secured fame and fortune through acting and music.

Jim, however, is also the product of an unhappy marriage and has failed to live up to his early potential as a ping pong champ and whose other pre-adolescent talent, as a trumpet player, produced only a brief spell of fame as a young adult.

Stretch eschews the current critical trend that blames the baby-boomers for everything that’s perceived to have gone wrong for their kids. Instead, he sees his generation X/Y protagonist (Jim was born on the cusp in 1982) as a product of their/his times, at once driven by youthful rebellion and paralysed by creeping disillusionment. It’s a sad book, but it’s also funny and true.

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