Book review – Nonfiction: A Novel by Julie Myerson
This is Myerson’s ‘squarest attempt so far at autobiographical fiction’
Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images
In 2009, the novelist Julie Myerson found herself at the centre of a media storm after publishing a non-fiction account of her eldest son’s addiction to marijuana, said Hephzibah Anderson in The Observer. The episode, she has said, drove her to a “kind of breakdown”, and she has never directly addressed it in her writing. Except that now, in a way, she has. This, her 11th novel – entitled Nonfiction – is all about “teenage drug addiction”. The narrator is a once “happily married” writer, who is looking back on her attempts to save her heroin-addicted daughter “from self-destruction”. Given her own backstory, Myerson is risking a lot with such a novel – but “the results are nothing less than incandescent”.
The title is confusing, and deliberately so, said Alex Peake-Tomkinson in The Spectator. This is Myerson’s “squarest attempt so far at autobiographical fiction”. Yet in other ways, it seems a typical work: she has always explored “her worst fears in her novels”. Although I hope she will “look beyond her own life” in future, I found this a “satisfyingly propulsive” read.
Corsair 288pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99
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