What You Want may be written in rhyming pentameters but it is seductably readable. Its meter and rhyme bounce you through the pages and soon become addictive. I could not put it down, and was as gripped by the rattling story as by the book’s sublime beauty. It is an astonishing achievement, combining glorious, irreverent, subversive characterisation and story-telling with soaring poetry. Its chief theme for me was the slow puncture affecting middle class urban life, with all its disappointments, anxieties and defeats:
'I sold the works of art which we had bought
And tried to live off that. I felt we ought
To move house, and began to look around
For somewhere cheap; but everything I found just seemed depressing.'
But there are a host of other ideas and themes packed into it. And don’t get the idea that What You Want is somber or depressing. The book teems with jokes, and trips along easily and lightly.
If there is any justice What You Want will be on the Booker Prize shortlist, and with a bit of luck, will win it.