© The Financial Times Ltd 2016
FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
The Financial Times and its journalism are subject to a self-regulation regime under the FT Editorial Code of Practice.
Last updated: April 14, 2012 12:18 am
Bed by David Whitehouse, Canongate, RRP£7.99, 297 pages
In childhood Mal would compulsively disrobe in public. After one particularly trying family holiday he remained defiantly naked for a fortnight. Later, his girlfriend, Lou, introduces a degree of stability but, in his 20s, Mal takes to his bed for two decades.
David Whitehouse’s bizarre tale holds a grotesque fascination. As Mal – fussed and fed by his cloyingly ineffectual mother – balloons into an obese media-celebrated freak raddled with maladies, his family warp their lives around him, even moving the interior walls of their suburban home to accommodate his gargantuan body.
Mal’s dysfunctional behaviour eclipses the life of his younger brother, whose lonely narration becomes the quiet domestic tragedy of this engrossing but unsettling novel. The sadness of lives unfulfilled, buffeted by other, larger events, lends gravity to a compelling debut, which handles unusual material with confidence and flashes of dry, satirical humour.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.