Finally! A book that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Martin Amis's the Rachel Papers (which, if you loved Submarine, you must also read). Joe Dunthorne, who is, I understand, also a well regarded poet, has created, in Oliver Tate, a compelling and loveable hero; if you have teenaged boys in your life you will wince, cry and applaud - often all at the same time - and if you've recently been one I suspect you might offer up thanks that you no longer are.
This is a book with a clear sense of purpose; to document - unflinchingly (again, Amis springs to mind here) every detail of the business of being a teenager; the emotional, the physical, the metaphysical, the sexual. All set against a backdrop of a lovingly described Gower, peopled with characters who also resonate with truth, and situations (first love, sexual exploration, the anxiety of seeing cracks form in the security of his parents' marriage) that have universal relevance. I can't believe Dunthorne's parents (who MUST have been partly distilled to form Oliver's - if he denys it, I won't believe him) aren't still cringing, rictus grins in place, at the acuity with which their middle-aged peccadillos have been observed.
Don't, however, just expect humour (though there is much). This is a book with a dark side, and plenty of poignant and upsetting moments; darker, definitely, than Adrian Mole. A different animal altogether, to my mind.
It's also written in prose that manages to be that rare thing; beuatifully poetic without ever feeling pompous or overworked.
I can't wait to see what Joe Dunthorne does next.