Book Review: Jason Johnson – Sinker

Posted July 8, 2014 in Print


Jason Johnson

[Liberties Press]

Jason Johnson’s third novel, Sinker, is an absurdist romp through the carnival world of professional drinking, with enigmatic law school dropout Baker Forley as its morally ambiguous protagonist. It’s a study of the grotesque, and a mirror held up to a compulsive drinking culture characterised by its complete disregard for the dictates of health and safety, common sense and sanity. The novel is packed to bursting with expletives, bodily fluids, and noir-esque, tough-guy one-liners.

Johnson has been dubbed the “Irish Irvine Welsh”, and echoes Trainspotting’s choose-life mantra in rendering the manic energy springing from the conflict and delirium of doing exactly what you know will destroy you; the filth and the joy involved in abandoning the sane world. With Forley, we’re given the sharp conflict of a thinking, drinking man: eager to set himself apart from the loutish sport, vacillating between euphoria and bitter self-loathing. It’s a surreal portrait of a highly coloured world, and at times very entertaining stuff. Which is why it’s such a pity when, halfway through, an improbable murder plot is revealed, and the book takes a sudden plunge into senselessness. It could be seen as fitting into a long tradition of Irish absurdism – but with this level of farce we need to feel we are in good hands. *Sinker* ultimately lacks the necessary control, and the plot twists and turns, thrashing helplessly – and eventually sinks.

Words: Liza Cox

For more literary kicks, check out this month’s other book reviews: 

Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird

Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism

Steve Rasnic Tem’s Here With the Shadows

Laurie Moore’s Bark

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown and Other Stories

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