SHE’S the literary sensation of the century, but are her books understatedly fascinating or remorselessly banal? The latter. Here’s why:
Fuck all happens
Marianne and Connell fancy each other, shag, break up, go to university, shag other people, Connell goes to New York, the end. Sorry, spoiler warning. Frances and Bobbi meet Nick and Melissa, Frances and Nick have an affair, break up, Frances and Bobbi get back together or do they? Who the fuck cares? More happens in Aliens Love Underpants.
The characters are tedious bastards
If you give a shit about the inner thoughts of messed-up self-obsessed millennials, get on Twitter where they spew them live. Five minutes and there’s been more going on than in 12 f**king episodes of Conversations With Friends. Gerbils have more emotional depth and chemistry than these monotonous, personality-free middle-class pricks.
She writes the limpid prose of an instruction manual
Rooney’s spare, minimalist prose has seen the hyperbolic compare her to Ernest Hemingway, but his books at least had war and bulls in. Can you really justify wasting your life reading sentence like ‘Felix found a solution for the issue with the shower unit’? Your dishwasher manual is equally stultifying and comes in 12 languages.
Even the titles are colourless
Normal People. Conversations With Friends. It’s the crap you say when being overzealously interviewed by a boss asking what your friends are like and what you do to socialise, because you can’t say ‘Total Nutters’ and ‘Do Ketamine in a Quarry’.
We only went mental for Normal People because of lockdown
Normal People came on the BBC in April 2020 and people were obsessed. Other obsessions of the time: baking banana bread, washing the shopping, Zoom quizzes, hoping Boris Johnson would live. There was sod all to do. A blandly handsome man gave PE lessons and we lost our minds over it.
You aren’t allowed to not like them
What, you didn’t like the books where conceited twats meandered aimlessly around their unexpressed emotions while at dinner parties? What’s wrong with you? Didn’t you get it? Are you semi-literate? Do you hate Millennials? Would you prefer a Jilly Cooper novel with a higher shag-to-page ratio? Yeah, who wouldn’t?