Nicholas Royle - First Novel (3 stars)

Nicholas Royle - First Novel

A lithe, quirky and occasionally inspired story of academia, dogging and possible murder

‘What’s the difference between a publisher and a terrorist? You can negotiate with terrorists.’ So goes the mantra of many a long out-of-print novelist. Education has been the savour of one-time author Paul Kinder. His one forgotten book lies behind him and now he teaches creative writing at a university in Manchester. As he researches his second novel, Kinder’s obsession with other literary debuts is exacerbated by his interest in dogging and a possible murder.

Prolific writer and editor, and real-life writing lecturer, Nicholas Royle is certainly writing from a place of smart investment here. With First Novel he toys with the cliché of literary jealousy, delusion and the constant search for inspiration.

This lithe, quirky and occasionally inspired novel maintains itself against a background of privilege and perversion. Like Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man rewritten by Geoff Dyer and Howard Jacobson in an awkward collaboration, First Novel is strange, memorable and, arguably, way ahead of its time.

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