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What You Could Have Won

– tekijä: Rachel Genn

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näyttää 2/2
“I wrote this book because I didn’t want Amy Winehouse to be dead.”

Fame is the only thing worth having. Love is temporary brain damage. Or so thinks Henry Sinclair, a failing psychiatrist, whose career-breaking discovery has been pinched by a supervisor smelling of nipple grease and hot-dog brine.

Desperate for the recognition he’s certain his genius deserves.

Henry claws his way into the limelight by transforming his girlfriend—a singer-in-ascendance, beloved for her cathartically raw performances—into a drug experiment.

As he systematically works to reinforce feelings of worthlessness while at the same time feeding off Astrid’s fame, and as Astrid collapses deeper into dependence, what emerges is a two-sided toxic relationship.

Pinging between their apartment in New York (where they watch endless episodes of The Sopranos),

a nudist campsite in Greece (where the tantalizingly handsome Gigi thwacks octopi into the sand),

and a celebrity rehab facility in Paris (founded by the cassock-wearing and sex-scandal plagued ‘artist’ Hypno Ray),

Thank you, Goodreads and AndOtherStories for a chance to read What You Could Have Won!

I found that I had a hard time following this book. It jumps around with the point of view. There wasn’t much done with the development of the characters. So maybe that’s why it's hard to tell when the POV changes. Also, it jumps around in time. For example, {these aren’t exact pages where this happens it is just to give you an idea of what I mean} let's say the talk about something on page 43 then nothing about it then you get to page 97 it just pops back up. So, I don’t know. I was really unimpressed with the book. I think the author started with a good solid subject and then wrote stuff down as it came. But didn’t put the events in order of them happening. I don’t mean to be harsh but it just seems that after the scene were written they just stayed in that order. Happy reading everyone! ( )
  jacashjoh | Jun 8, 2021 |
What You Could Have Won tells the story of the twisted, unhealthy relationship between Henry, a British psychiatrist, and Astrid, a rising American pop star character inspired by Amy Winehouse. The novel largely alternates between the two characters' points of view, told in the first person for Henry, and in the second person for Astrid.

The novel opens with Henry and Astrid arriving at a Greek island after they've been together for a while, and jumps back in forth in time to paint a picture of how their relationship has become more toxic over time. We find out that Henry is feeding Astrid drugs so that he can write about their effects in his book, while Astrid becomes increasingly dependent on both him and a variety of substances, leading to several breakdowns.

I found the writing style and shifts in perspective and time rather disorientating at first, probably not helped by the fact that I was - rather appropriately - hopped up on painkillers when I started reading. The language used is very inventive and playful, and can be difficult to follow. However, it was enlightening to hear the author talk about this in a recent literary event, where she said that she didn't much like metaphors and tries to make her language as precise as possible.

Second person perspectives can be tricky to pull off, and Astrid's sections definitely required more mental effort for me to read than Henry's. However, Astrid is much more sympathetic as a character than Henry, so the need to find out what happens to her drove me through those passages.

There's no doubt that What You Could Have Won is a cleverly written novel, with some brilliant character portraits - particularly the various people that the couple come across on their Greek island jaunt. I think the tricksy writing style and changes in perspective and time will probably put off quite a lot of readers from finishing this, but on the whole, I was absorbed enough in the story to want to read on to the end. ( )
  mooingzelda | Nov 6, 2020 |
näyttää 2/2
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