The reader is also given a small glimpse of the high life in Nick Earls’ latest novel, The Fix. Set, as usual, up in sunny Brisbane, The Fix is a story of a story, and how things are never quite what they seem. Josh has just come back to Australia after a few years working as a spin doctor in London, and while he is waiting to get back into his first love of journalism (and writing a newspaper blog to earn a few bucks in the meantime!), he is approached to carry out a PR campaign for a lawyer receiving a medal for bravery.
For someone used to saving the backsides of big, nasty corporations, it sounds like an easy gig. One problem though is that the lawyer is Josh’s old friend Ben, who we suspect may have hurt Josh in the past. As the novel progresses, it’s also clear that Ben’s reluctance to talk about what happened in the ‘siege’ has less to do with his feelings towards Josh, and more to do with the truth of the whole affair…
I was a little hesitant on starting this book because Earls is a writer who started off writing lad-lit in the vein of Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle, and I wasn’t sure if an older, more literary me would still enjoy his work (Gayle is one whose books I now avoid…). An hour later, and a hundred pages down, I was safely able to take those fears and dump them in the Brisbane river; The Fix is a riveting read.
There were a few uncomfortable moments (I’m not sure a scene with a Korean businessman was strictly necessary, or appropriate), but what I like about Earls is that he has kept his earlier eye for the humorous side of life and combined it with a more developed sense of the darkness that lies beneath it. The longer the book goes on, the more uneasy Ben becomes – and the more obsessed the reader becomes with uncovering the truth. But what is ‘truth’, and is it ever possible to get to the bottom of anything, particularly someone’s character?
On starting this post, I was thinking of writing something about how Earls has moved on from lad-lit and is working towards writing more complex and literary novels, thinking that this one would be another step in the same direction. After finishing the book, I would have to say that I’ve changed my mind – this is the book that marks him as more than a humorous chronicler of the lives of thirty-something Brisbanites. The descriptive writing may not be as elegant as I might want it to be, but The Fix is a fabulous, multi-layered work which will, I’m sure, stand up to rereading.
And that makes me very happy 🙂