Book Review – LION ATTACK! by Oliver Mol
Lion Attack! Synopsis :
From an inaugural winner of the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers comes a funny, energetic coming-of-age story that isn’t quite like any other book you’ll read this year.
Oliver is a writer who’s just moved cities. He doesn’t have any friends yet; he can’t get his surly flatmate, Mark, to crack a smile; and the only people who talk to him are the odd assortment of characters at the KeepCup warehouse where he works, plugging lids into cups in an endless cycle.
His hours consist of daydreams: sweet, touching reveries of driving down the freeway with the girl of his dreams, and outlandish fantasies of bursting through the roof at bedroom store Snooze.
Oliver is lonely. For the most part, he is sleepwalking through life. At nights, he begins to write memories of growing up in pre-9/11 America, as he finds himself thinking of his childhood in Texas. But when he meets up with Lisa, the girl he’s been writing to on Facebook, things begin to change.
Lion Attack! is a startlingly original, ambitious work about a young man trying to navigate contemporary Australia and his own life. Part romance, part tragicomedy, and part social critique, it is hilarious, poignant, and ultimately deeply moving.
Oliver Mol’s Lion Attack! has to rank as one of the more unusual books I have read. It kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what next – from liberal use of the ‘F’ and ‘C’ words (adjective, verb and noun), raw emotion and life observations, through to valiant attempts to add laughter to people’s day.
Lion Attack! has been categorised as creative non-fiction. It is a narrative on the author’s life experiences during the time he’s attempting to writer a memoir, interspersed with reflective passages involving his childhood intended for that memoir. The form is an anti-structure of sorts, a validation seeking stream of consciousness symbolic of the way the narrator represents they have approached life thus far. I say ‘represents’ because there is a darker, somewhat satirical layer that rests atop the narrative.
Much focus is given to the ongoing internal conversation, highlighting what is thought versus what is verbalized, sometimes crass other times profound, observing the world with almost childlike honesty and on occasion clarity. Mol captures the mix of bravura and recklessness but also insecurities of young adulthood, and points to human aggression so often being a handy mask for feelings of inadequacy. But this is more a discussion ‘about coming-of-age’ and the feelings involved, rather than a tale of doing so.
I am a little older than the ‘new adult’ audience perhaps intended for this piece, and so while I did not always connect with the author’s humour or his love of short sentences (and something less than sentences, the equivalent of ‘thought bubbles’ – a product of the digital age I guess), I know others will. I did have a soft spot for Mol’s references to the songs of ‘Brissie born’ band Savage Garden though.
Lion Attack! is sub-titled ‘I’m trying to be honest and I want you to know that‘. That Oliver Mol has made a statement with Lion Attack! is in no doubt. I’ll leave you with a wholly original quote from Mol’s interesting interview with Booklover Book Reviews in May:
I want to give f#&ks to the things that matter.
If this is something you can hear yourself saying, then this may just be the ideal read for you.
BOOK RATING: The Story 3 / 5 ; The Writing 2.5 / 5 ; Overall 2.75
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Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Humour, Romance
This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2015 and 2015 Non-fiction Reading Challenge.
Oliver Mol is a Sydney-based writer. He is the editor of The Adventure Handbook. He is 26. He grew up between America and Australia. He has lived in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was the recipient of a 2014 ArtStart Grant, the co-winner of the 2013 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and the recipient of a 2012 Hot Desk Fellowship. He has appeared at Emerging Writers Festival and Melbourne Writers Festival. He has read creative nonfiction at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He has interned at The Lifted Brow, was a fiction editor at Voiceworks and is part of the Stilts Collective. He is excited about life.
Other reviews of Lion Attack! : Sydney Morning Herald ; The Saturday Paper
* My receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.