From Publishers Weekly
Finding himself more drawn to a drab stretch of London canal than to his boring job, the unnamed narrator of this ambitious debut quits and begins to spend his days cultivating a zen state immune to boredom's pernicious possibilities. He meets a woman who has succumbed to those possibilities, and over soon learns of the terrible effect that can come from submitting. Rourke skates over the potential pitfalls of a novel crafted around boredom: descriptions of hours spent staring at a building alternate effectively with emotionally charged, mysterious drama. From his disengaged protagonist to the heinous actions of the woman he becomes obsessed with, Rourke evokes a more systemic emptiness, of which boredom is but a symptom: a post 9-11 nihilistic alienation from meaning. The characters themselves are flatter for this, and seem mechanized by some philosophic endgame rather than genuine psychology. Accepted as such, though, and seen in the context of their realistically-detailed environment--aimlessly vicious teenaged gangs, marching gentrification, and omnipresent technology--they are telling emblems of a modern condition: adrift, bleak yet gentle, and terribly vulnerable to the amoral march of time. (June) (c)
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British writer (Everyday, 2007) Rourke's charming debut novel unflinchingly tackles a subject many more experienced writers might balk at: boredom. The unnamed narrator not only admits his life is a drag; he embraces banality. Finally disgusted by his inane office job, he quits and spends every morning on a bench along a London canal. There he watches waterfowl in the park and aircraft above, dredgers cleaning the water and commuters headed to and from their deathtrap jobs, and a man in an office in a building across the canal. When a mysterious young woman begins to join him on the bench, recounting strange stories and confessing lies, and a gang of thugs begins to pester him, the narrator questions the meaning of love, violence, and nature, especially after discovering that the woman has some connection with the worker across the way. A meditation on boredom's propensity to both inspire inner peace and instigate acts of terrorism, Rourke's surprisingly entertaining tale will keep readers glued to their seats. --Jonathan Fullmer