Trivial Pursuits: Prolix work of underwhelming musings

Raven Smith’s flashy literary style glitters with dense detail but little of substance

Raven Smith’s book is structured as a series of discrete chapters, but the subject matter is largely overlapping and the language exhaustingly descriptive. Photograph: Darren Gerrish/WireImage

Raven Smith’s book is structured as a series of discrete chapters, but the subject matter is largely overlapping and the language exhaustingly descriptive. Photograph: Darren Gerrish/WireImage

“Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” This is the wisdom of one Forrest Gump, a fictional film hero famed for his kindness, and it sums up quite neatly Raven Smith’s Trivial Pursuits, a book as wide-ranging in subject matter as it is in cultural reference.

From the qualities of narrative non-fiction itself (“vomiting after you’ve eaten candyfloss and ridden the Wurlitzer”) to the etiquette of holiday packing (“a linen suit is dashing but will never see the light of day”) to his personal quest to define his sexual identity (like a “Penis Poirot”), in this collection of confessional cultural explorations Smith reveals himself to be part-philosopher, part-prurient provocateur.

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