Let’s start off with a simple score, because those people who want to read this whole thing will, but some people want to see the opinion and leave. Quick and easy.
8.5/10. Or 4.25/5, because those smaller numbers look better.
I’ve put off reviewing my first book for a long while, not entirely sure why, but after reading sooky cunts by Jake Connor Moss I had to write it. Truth be told, until around a month ago I hadn’t the foggiest idea of who JCM even was. My partner and our best mate were talking about some book launch at Rocking Horse Records, and the term sooky cunts came up. I was completely lost. A couple of weeks passed, and Fawn ended up buying sooky cunts and one of his previous books trinder park, thus introducing me to this Brisbane independent artist.
I didn’t know what to expect, the name didn’t give an awful lot away, and the only thing I had to go by was the monochromatic cover art and a brief (however perfectly descript) blurb. What I finished reading in a matter of hours was perhaps the most uniquely and powerfully crafted novels I’ve read in years. The use of poems telling a fragmented story akin to a Tarentino film (both plot wise and language wise) is a masterclass in structure. It never takes you anywhere you don’t need to go, even the most seemingly inane poems end up providing an insight into the slowly decaying mind of one of the most purely realised human characters of any novel I’ve read. The coupling of abstract scribblings, sometimes poignantly eerie and other times exquisitely comical (everyone needs comic relief) is yet another tick in the creative genius box. There’s no romantic prose, there’s no overblown Tolkein imagery, and there’s no punches that aren’t thrown.
That’s the selling point of this work, the extreme realism. Connor Moss has no qualms with boldly and brashly tackling the most taboo subjects, and it’s refreshing. All too often do artists shy away from sex, drugs, rape, mental health, domestic abuse or violence, but in the world we live in these things do actually happen. Shock horror, I know. Look up from your tumblr once in awhile and realise the world actually does exist, and you’re ignoring the bad things. Life is full of ups and downs, and sooky cunts puts in in a relatable pair of shoes. The narrator is the furthest thing from perfect, and that’s why I trust him so much. No one wants to heed words from Mr Darcy, because there is no real life Darcy (sorry Hugh).
However the novel isn’t perfect. For some readers it could provide triggers, or come across as grossly insensitive, but that is life sometimes. There’s also very little traditional structure, and as clever as it is, some of the characters get unneededly lost where some of them could have provided some more needed companionship to our antihero. It gets a bit muddled, and at times it’s even hard to know who the other names are, they seem like hastily added monikers given to avoid any more character description. This does work with the lonely, drugged themes of the poetic work, however it left me having to think more about who these names were rather than the profound themes of the poems.
Even so, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this novel to anyone who has an artistic bone in their body. And a strong stomach. It’s not light, but it’s sure as hell a fantastic piece of expression.
Oh, and watch out for the final couple of pages. It’s remarkable.