REVIEW: The Future Won't Be Long, Jarett Kobek

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

It's the tail-end of 1986 and Baby is the freshest-faced, starriest-eyed young homo in all of New York City, straight off the bus from closeted backwoods Wisconsin. Adeline is his rich-art-school-kid saviour with a bizarre transatlantic drawl and a spare bed.
The Future Won't Be Long follows Baby and Adeline as they cling to each other for dear life through a decade of mad, bad New York life punctuated by the deaths of Warhol, Basquiat and Wojnarowicz and the forcible gentrification of the East Village. While Adeline develops into the artist she never really expected to become, Baby falls into a twilight zone of clubbing, ketamine and late-capitalistic sexual excess. As he struggles to find his way out again, Baby will test the strength of a friendship that had seemed unbreakable.

DNF @ 20%
The Future Won’t Be Long has to be one of the most of the annoying books I have read this year. I didn’t really know anything about the book going into it, aside from the fact that it was set in New York City in the 1980s, because this one was definitely a cover pick. I mean, look at it! It looks so cool. But I suppose that this was one where I shouldn’t have judged the book by the cover, because the inside did everything it could to drive Cass crazy.
All of the things that I am sure the author and many others found quirky or stylistic, honestly drove me up the wall - the way that Adeline spoke, the bizarre and cliché plot points, the book’s tendency to elongate worrrrrrrrrds and name-drop every even slightly famous person there at the time. Yes, I get it, you’re part of the scene - but do you really need to bump into everybody? God, it was like Jarett Kobek started the novel with a checklist of people who he had to find some way to fit in before the book ended. Honestly, it felt less like the lives of real people who could’ve been around at that time and more like fantasy-bred fanfiction.
There is a sort of Riverdale vibe connected to the whole thing and, though it took me a while after realising that to work out whether it was either a good or a bad thing, honestly, the things that liken it to the series are its iffy dialogue choices. Adeline, I’m looking at you. At one point, early on, Baby asks her why she speaks like that but then let’s it go - if I was in his shoes, I wouldn’t have stopped asking her and complaining about it until she gave the whole act up and reverted to speaking like an actual human being. I don't know what the character, or indeed the author, thinks to achieve by making her sound this way, but honestly, it is not endearing or sophisticated or funny, it was just annoying.
Frankly, the characters were stereotypes and their roles clichéd. And yes, maybe I am missing some big artistic statement that all of 5* reviews seem to find inside the pages of this book (maybe I am just not artistic or cultured enough) but for me, The Future Won’t Be Long is becoming so irritating that it is actually verging on painful to read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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