Wednesday 22 February 2023

Review by Lee Wright of "The Book of Niall" by Barry Jones

Niall Adams is a Hollywood actor who seemingly has it all. The career, the good looks, the gorgeous girl, the apartment in LA. 

In this sense, he isn’t too far removed from Bret Easton Ellis’ Patrick Bateman. And like the narrator of American Psycho (1991), Niall Adams is finding out that success, and indeed reality, isn’t all that it used to be, as his grip on the real world is beginning to slip in frequent and alarming ways. 

Niall often feels like he is watching a television, that those around him aren’t real people. Is his entire life nothing more than a pre-written script? Will the director call cut in time to save Niall from himself? 

With surrealist echoes of David Lynch’s Inland Empire (2006) and Spike Jones’ Being John Malkovich (1999), author Barry Jones addresses the difficult conversation of the three Ds, (depression, depersonalisation, and derealisation) in a richly narrated and multi-layered debut graphic novel that occasionally dares to break the fourth wall, and which Jones achieved by teaching himself to draw (a demonstration of extraordinary effort). 

The Book of Niall is a novel which requires some investment. It is at times seductive and deep, and at other times boarding on heady surrealism that some readers might find too impenetrable, though it pays to stay with it. There are many unexpected happenings; turns that takes the story slyly in the direction of horror, then backflips into comedy, leaving the reader upside-down, forcing them to reassess everything they thought and felt about mental health, as Niall teeters on the delicate edge of infinite regression, witnessing himself crumble and reform over the endless cycle of days.  

Reading The Book of Niall is an uncompromising experience, but it does have an important urgency that deserves further thought, and a bigger conversation. 

About the reviewer
Lee Wright has an MA in Creative Writing and is currently working towards a PhD which merges film summary with personal memoir. His short fiction has been published by Fairlight Books, and époque press. He is also writing a novel set in 1950s New Mexico. 

You can read more about The Book of Niall by Barry Jones on Creative Writing at Leicester here

No comments:

Post a Comment