Matthew Weiner – Heather, The Totality (2 stars)

Matthew Weiner – Heather, The Totality (Canongate)

Debut novella is at times difficult to digest, but leaves you itching for more

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner's debut novella moves at a pace that leaves you breathless, unnerved and itching for more. The story explores the dynamics of a privileged but unhappy family, whose false utopia is threatened by the actions of an unstable outsider.

Heather is the focal point, seen as the Breakstone's golden child and simultaneously as a tool for Bobby to visualise his violent fantasies. The lingering feeling of menace and dread is well executed but ultimately, Heather is a teenager and the over-sexualisation of her character is difficult to digest. There is also an underlying misogyny which runs throughout, with any profound insights reserved for the male voices. The female characters, in contrast, are viewed through a shallow lens, devoid of any real character development.

Weiner's style is short and sharp, with no laborious context or intricate detail in the two opposing narratives of the Breakstone family and Bobby. While the style helps to weave these two strands together in a way that is unexpected and disturbing, there is a sense that this brevity would be suited better to a medium like TV or film.

Out now.

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