Beatsploitation, by Kevin Curran
Reviewed by Stuart Cross
Beatsploitation is a Bildungsroman about Robert Lynch, musician, English teacher, Balbriggan native and sole narrator of the novel. Robert struggles for identity in the morass of a racist community, a crushing system and a band close to breaking up. He lives for music and fumbles for poignancy in cliche and nostalgia. His mind is littered with appropriated philosophy and cultural allusions. His student “John”, an Angolan immigrant, seems to provide his only means of escape. As the well-paced plot unfolds, and Robert himself loses the plot, the other characters become more stereotypical. Although Robert’s vision and voice are unnerving, he gradually becomes less convincing, and the novel’s insights into society have less of an impact. Still, this is a promising debut, an interesting take on A Clockwork Orange. It is rare to find an author ready to purloin Burgess’s intuition that music and the future of the novel are linked, much less the talent to envisage how that may be done.