ever since adam told cain to stand up straight and get a haircut, conflict between fathers and sons has been a common theme in literature. Two British authors, Tony Parsons and Paul Morley, have recently published books that deal with this age-old clash. Both are mainstream media pundits over 'ome today but started out as hip young gun slingers at rock bible New Musical Express in the late-70s punk wars.
Parsons' first novel, Man And Boy, was recently named British Book of the Year and has sold over 800,000 copies. It's easy to see why. Its hero is a 30-year-old TV executive who seems to have it all: flash car, successful career, loving wife and son, doting parents.
Going through an unusually early mid-life crisis, he has a one-off meaningless fling that causes his wife to dump him and leave the kid behind. Now Dad has to learn to be a parent. At the same time, his father is slowly dying of cancer. Crying yet?
Call me a cold-hearted, cynical bastard, but my eyes didn't moisten once. OK, maybe the line about Mummy not loving Daddy any more got to me, but that's it. And I didn't laugh once either.
Man And Boy is a thinly veiled attack on Parsons' ex-wife, Julie Burchill, another former NME journo and a current Guardian columnist. She walked out on him and their young son in the mid-80s.
Now the author of sub-Jackie Collins potboilers, she recently described Parsons as "a short-arsed middle-class crybaby." Even without knowing this, the plot's predictable and reads like a Hollywood film script. You just know the rights have already been sold and Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts have signed on.
MAN AND BOY by Tony Parsons (Sourcebooks Landmark), 353 pages, $32.50 cloth. Rating: NN