Alex isn’t sure when his life juddered off track, but there’s no denying that something’s gone wrong somewhere along the line. Nearly thirty, and increasingly isolated from the world and insulated against his own emotions, Alex is incapable of feeling much of anything without resorting to unhealthy extremes. This is when Edie the Ninja shows up, a former conquest with every reason to want revenge. But it seems she’s here not to destroy him, but to save him. Alex isn’t sure which sounds worse.
Enter a world of sofa-mining and grief-surfing; a darkly comic world of scavenged wealth and hijacked tragedy.
by Nico Reznick
"A fantastic debut: I laughed, I grimaced, I bawled my eyes out. If you like Douglas Coupland's Microserfs, Iris Murdoch's Under the Net and Will Self, then this is right up your street."
"If you're looking for a book that may make you think about yourself and some of the choices you've made, or may make then this is for you. And awesome debut novel written with a real voice from start to finish. Highly recommended and I look forward to more from Nico Reznick."
"Alex is hard-broke. He doesn't care about anything, and he doesn't care that he doesn't care. His only enjoyment, if you can call it that, is most charitably described as "creepy".
Anhedonia is descriptive of a particular type of depression that our "hero" utterly fails to try to fight. He has one dysfunctional companion (hard to use the word friend and one basically feels nothing) and a very peculiar (but oddly compelling) method for funding his unusual and bizarre habit. Ultimately, it is a person Alex meets in this unorthodox pastime who gives him his best chance to diagnose and repair his own damaged psyche.
Nico Reznick paints a bleak picture of a bleak man in a bleak place in his bleak life, and yet makes that bleakness vibrant and real. Her foray into the depths of Alex's damaged life are vivid, exciting, and emotionally crafted. It is easy to lose track of time reading Anhedonia, and walk along with Alex as he discovers just how utterly incapable he is of feeling love while simultaneously falling in love without even being aware of it.
This is the first novel of Nico Reznick's I have read, but it certainly won't be the last! And for the record, she should charge more if she's going to go around writing this well! Nice work, Nico!"
I downloaded a copy of Anhedonia by Nico Reznick when I noticed it mentioned on Twitter in a #TuesdayBookBlog promotion. That was last year and I am kicking myself for not getting around to reading it sooner. I loved every minute of Anhedonia!
Reznick has created a wonderfully flawed and vulnerable lead character in Alex. Unable to experience any form of emotion, his only release is to tap into the intense grief of recently bereaved women, inventing temporary personas in order to trick them into sleeping with him. That sentence makes Alex sound like a hateful person, but don't let his actions put you off this novel because he is far more complex than a single compulsion. Instead add in a best friend that he doesn't really like, a family with whom he struggles to communicate, a job he despises, and an amazingly darkly portrayed Cotswolds setting that never once comes close to its famed chocolate box idyll.
Narrating his own story, Alex occasionally slips away from What Happened Back Then to give us a glimpse of himself as the author of his tale. I thought this an excellent device, especially for observations such as the potential heartbreak of apostrophe placement. Reznick has a poet's eye for both detail and language so her scenes are alive with unexpected observation. Even mundane settings become interesting and the bizarre dream sequences are great fun. I enjoyed the nods to influences such as Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and the narrative style sometimes led me to wonder if Alex was named for A Clockwork Orange.
A fascinating storyline peopled with thoroughly believable characters, set on the darker side of life and with plenty of just my kind of black humour made this a perfect book for me. I have already downloaded Reznick's first volume of poetry and fervently hope that she will write another novel too.
"A beautifully written book, immensely compelling, witty, amusing and poignant. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with characters the reader couldn't fail to take to the heart."
"I loved this book. To enjoy it, you need to like your humour dark and deadpan, and not mind its morbid and outrageously offensive themes and plot twists. The quality of the writing shines through the bleak humour, and while it's not exactly a feel-good story, ultimately it was one of the most life-affirming and positive novels I've read in quite a while. An easy 5 stars from me."
"Fantastic novel, following Alex Austin as he goes on an inward journey to uncover what is behind his malaise. A novel which says as much about what's wrong with society as what is wrong with us as individuals. Amazing debut from a young, female author, one to watch with interest."
"Nico Reznick's first novel, Anhedonia, is a startling piece of work. The most arresting quality of the work is its relentlessly consistent voice. She writes from a male point of view and does not miss a beat. This powerful voice, combined with her mastery of plot and character development allows her the freedom to fold powerful social commentary and mordant humor into the novel seamlessly, without being preachy or glib. Her eye for detail is vivid; a poet's eye. Her initial plot devices - anhedonia and second hand necrophilia - would seem immediately off-putting, but are not. She is skillful enough to make what ought to be unlikeable characters both human and attractive, instead of just 30-something losers. This empathy allows her to grow her characters, especially the narrator, in a believable, hopeful way that justifies the ending. Her incisive, understated black wit is at times laugh out loud funny, especially in view of the subject matter. That she succeeds in making these characters and this subject an enjoyable, engrossing read, says a great deal about her ability as a story teller. In sum, Anhedonia is not just an excellent first novel, it is an excellent novel. If Ms Reznick continues to produce work of this caliber or better, she will certainly become a major talent of her generation. Get in on the ground floor of an important career. Buy this book, read this book, share this book with others. Both you and they will be satisfied and left wanting more."