A Short Note on Adam Thirlwell

Thirlwell’s been in my head a bit this week, in the manner of a

planetary conjunction. I was looking at a book of his (Politics) in a shop (charitable) wondering whether to buy it. I decided not.


was thinking of buying it because I occasionally like to read things I’m pretty sure I’m going to dislike. I do this because it allows me to satisfy

myself that all contemporary novelists are poor. I decided not to buy it because of the third line. In the first two lines, he introduces the two main

characters. The third line was as follows (approximately):

I think you’re going to like Moshe. I think you’re going to like X


Then I closed the book and put it back on the shelf. Then I left the shop. Then I got something to eat and went back to the


I thought to myself later, Thirlwell should read (or re-read, since he is so well-read), Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground.

If he did, he might come across the idea that man doesn’t in general like to be told what he should do or think about something; in fact, he may well

act entirely against his conscience and interests just to prove to himself that he is sovereign over himself.

Perhaps this is why Adam Mars-

Jones says one of Thirlwell’s books is “monumentally annoying”.

If you think this post is well-written, you’d should reach some Thirlwell.

For he has a lot to say about literary style.


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