Read Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh Online


Meet Sonny Anderson as he tips headlong into adulthood. Sonny doesn’t remember his mother’s face; he was kidnapped at age five by his father, Guru Bim, and taken to live in a commune in Brazil. Since the age of ten, Sonny has lived in Redondo Beach, California, with his guardian Thomas Hardiker. Brits think he’s an American, Americans think he’s a Brit.When he turns 21, SoMeet Sonny Anderson as he tips headlong into adulthood. Sonny doesn’t remember his mother’s face; he was kidnapped at age five by his father, Guru Bim, and taken to live in a commune in Brazil. Since the age of ten, Sonny has lived in Redondo Beach, California, with his guardian Thomas Hardiker. Brits think he’s an American, Americans think he’s a Brit.When he turns 21, Sonny musters the courage to travel alone to the UK in an attempt to leave a troubled past behind, reunite with his mother and finally learn the truth about his childhood. With a list of people to visit, a whole lot of attitude and five mysterious letters from his guardian, Sonny sets out to learn the truth. But is it a truth he wants to hear?Narcissism for Beginners is a fresh, witty and humane take on the struggle to make sense of growing up....

Title : Narcissism for Beginners
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781783523443
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Narcissism for Beginners Reviews

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-03-30 01:26

    McDonagh’s terrific third novel is presented as Sonny Anderson’s extended letter to the mother he doesn’t remember. He’s lived with his guardian, a Brit named Thomas Hardiker, in Redondo Beach, California for 11 years; before that they were in Brazil with Sonny’s father. A month ago, on his twenty-first birthday, Sonny received the astounding news that he’s a millionaire thanks to a trust fund from his late father, Robin Agelaste-Bim, better known as Guru Bim. His mother is Sarah Anderson: once a Scottish housewife, now untraceable. Despite his youth, Sonny has been a meth addict and kicked the habit through NA. This kid’s done a lot of living already, but sets out on a new adventure to learn about his parents from those who knew them. And while he’s in Britain, he’ll squeeze in some tourism related to his favorite movie, Shaun of the Dead.Starting with Sonny’s plane ride to Heathrow, the book is in the present tense, which makes you feel you’re taking the journey right along with him. Although this isn’t necessarily being marketed as young adult fiction, it has the same vibe as some YA quest narratives I’ve read: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, both of David Arnold’s books, and Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star. Sonny is more bitter and world-weary than those teen protagonists, but you still get the slang and the pop culture references along with the heartfelt emotions.Sonny’s first visit is to Torquay octogenarian Doris Henry, who was the Agelaste-Bims’ servant and Robin’s wet nurse circa 1970. Next up: London and Ruth Williams, whom Sonny’s mother, then going by Suki, recruited into a LifeForce meditation group. Ruth remembers taking against Guru Bim immediately: “He was faking it to get in with Suki. I understood the attraction, though; those narcissistic types are always charming.” Bim and Suki formed a splinter group, Trembling Leaves and soon announced Suki’s pregnancy, but things went awry and Suki fled to Scotland with her ex-boyfriend, Andrew.This slightly madcap biographical trip around Britain also takes in Brighton, Scotland and Keswick in the Lake District. At each stop Sonny’s able to fill in more about his past, but it’s the letters Thomas sent along for him that contain the real shockers. It’s an epistolary within an epistolary, really, with Thomas’s series of long, explanatory letters daubing in the details and anchoring Sonny’s sometimes-earnest, sometimes-angry missive to his mother.I loved tagging along on this kooky hero’s quest. My one small criticism about an otherwise zippy novel is that there is a lot of backstory to absorb, from Sonny’s former drug use onwards. For an American expat, though, it was especially fun to watch Sonny trying to get used to some peculiarities of Britain: “apparently it’s compulsory to eat potato chips and on Brit trains” and “We argue about which floor she lives on. I say second and Ruth says first, until we realise we mean the same thing.”In a year that opened with a narcissist being installed in the White House and will soon see the publication of a new book about cult leader Jim Jones (The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn), McDonagh’s picture of Guru Bim is sure to strike a chord. As Ruth tells Sonny, in Ancient Greek an agelast was someone with no sense of humor; and she accused Bim of being “a manipulative charlatan.”For Sonny, whose very name places him in relationship to others, coming to grips with who he came from means deciding to live differently and be content with his own piecemeal family, including Thomas, the Great Dudini (their dog), and maybe even a cool old lady like Ruth. You’ll love spending time with them all, and I imagine you’ll get a particular kick out of this if you like Shaun of the Dead. (Whisper it: I’ve never seen it.)With thanks to Unbound for the review copy.Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  • Mairead Hearne (
    2019-04-07 02:26

    ‘Turning twenty-one, not much about me has changed, physically speaking. But nothing stayed the same either. My name grew longer and my bank balance got bigger -MUCH bigger. I have a bona fide Brit passport now and i’m not sure where home is anymore’May I first say that if you are looking for a novel that is slightly left of centre, Narcissism for Beginners is a book most definitely worth checking out.It’s a coming-of-age story with a difference. Sonny is just about to celebrate his twenty-first birthday but not quite in the way he expects.Having experienced an extremely dysfunctional upbringing, Sonny lives with his guardian Thomas. Sonny has always been aware of a certain things about his childhood. He knew he was born in the UK in rather unusual circumstances. He was aware of living in Brazil for awhile and he had some knowledge of his father’s lifestyle but of his mother he knew little.Sonny has always believed she was out there waiting for him. He has lived a life of drugs and drink with a tendency toward OCD type characteristics. He also as an unnatural obsession with the movie Shaun of The Dead. On the morning of his birthday, a tradition is always followed, that involves watching Sonny’s favourite movie but this time Sonny knows something is wrong‘The only clue pertaining to this being an irregular birthday was that Thomas’s battered old bright-yellow Amoeba Records shopper was able to stand unsupported on the kitchen table, instead of hanging semi-deflated from the chair’Thomas presents Shaun with information that will take him on a journey of discovery, one where he will search for answers about his past and hopefully give him an opportunity to move forward with his future.As a reader, you will be travel with Sonny to the UK and Scotland where his story begins. Sonny meets people from his father’s past and he is finally able to fill in the gaps of what really happened to his parents.Thomas has provided Sonny with five letters.Each of these contain many of the answers Sonny has looked for all his life. Abducted by his father, a self-made Guru with his own extremely messed-up story, Sonny has very few memories of his childhood. Living his teenage years through a haze of narcotics in California, Sonny’s trip to the UK is very much out of his comfort zone. The noises, the sights, the ‘Englishness’ of everything both amuse and distress him.Sonny gets to meet some wonderful characters along the way and Martine McDonagh has portrayed these people through Sonny’s eyes in such a descriptive fashion.‘Marsha Ray’s voice…Just the thought of the echo of it makes me want to punch the nearest seagull. I feel myself disappearing, being sucked along a desire line towards getting high, towards meth-land, tasting the bitter drip of it rolling from my nose to the back of my throat, reliving the burning rush of it, like my whole body is being fed through on of those high-speed hand dryers. And I miss that place so much I want to cry…Someone needs to remind me at this moment why drugs are a bad idea’Sonny will learn the truth to the many questions he has had his whole life as he continues his journey but only he can decide if it is a truth he wishes to hear. Will he finally achieve the peace that he has for so long hoped to attain?Martine McDonagh has written a highly original book with the discovery of the true meaning of ‘What Family Is?’ at it’s core.Told from the viewpoint of Sonny, we are exposed to his bouts of sarcastic humour and wit, alongside his depressed state of mind. He is a very likeable character and, as a reader, you find yourself rooting for him as you turn each page, in the hope that things will work out for him.You, of course, will have to pick up a copy yourself to find out what happens….

  • Nigeyb
    2019-04-17 08:44

    It was thanks to the wonderful Backlisted Podcast that I came to read 'Narcissism for Beginners'. Unbound sponsor Backlisted, and also published this book. The Podcast is wonderful. I would also urge you to investigate Unbound who are a crowdfunding publisher. 'Narcissism for Beginners' is presented as Sonny Anderson’s extended letter to his mother - who he doesn’t remember. When Sonny turns 21 he discovers he is now a millionaire, having inherited his late father’s family fortune. At the suggestion of his guardian, Thomas, he goes on a journey of discovery, from his home in Redondo Beach, California, to Britain, where his parents both came from from. To say anymore about the plot would be ruin a lot of the book's pleasure.Sonny’s story is revealed to the reader at the same time as Sonny makes his own discoveries, and during his visits to London, Brighton, Scotland and the Lake District. At each stop Sonny fills in more blanks about his past. The book's structure works brilliantly, and this clever, witty, original, engaging and poignant little novel delivers a powerful emotional punch. A really enjoyable, well written book.

  • Jennie
    2019-03-25 04:28

    A hugely enjoyable read. What grabbed me most about Narcissism for Beginners was the exuberantly expressive style of protagonist Sonny, the young man who narrates the novel (in a sort-of-letter to the at-first-undefined 'you'). We don't know much about him at the start - there's a compelling sense of mystery about his past maintained right up to the end. He's a troubled former drug addict whose parents are inexplicably absent, being looked after by his guardian in Redondo Beach, California - until the day he turns 21 and he learns he's inherited a fortune... We go with Sonny on his physical and emotional journey to discover the identity of his real family, and who he really is, and what really matters. He has an ironically detached veneer at times but with a likeable, vulnerable underneath. There is frequent humor - I just loved some of his overthetop metaphors and the way he looks at things - along with some rather disturbing aspects relating to dangerous narcissistic cult leaders and their followers, who are so desperate to believe in whatever stupidity it is that they are willing to sacrifice themselves. Talking of cults, all through his quest the novel references the cult zombie comedy film Shaun of The Dead, or SOTD as it's known to those in the know, which I now feel compelled to watch in order to get a full appreciation of everything in this delightful and refreshingly different novel. (especially the ice-cream cornet scene, which graces the cover)

  • KP Parker
    2019-03-27 04:18

    Narcissism for Beginners is in the form of a letter from Sonny to his long lost mother. Sonny has just turned 21 and inherited a fortune from his father, Guru Bim, one of the narcissists of the title. Along with the money, his guardian also gives him the names and details of people who knew both his father and mother, and Sonny leaves California for England in search of his mother. The structure of the novel is interesting as we gradually begin to piece together Sonny's past, and that of his parents, from the people he meets. We feel for Sonny, whose world is already precarious ( a recovering drug addict, a fear of envelopes, a phobia of eating noises), as even what he thought he knew about himself comes crashing down. But his voice is so engaging, dry, self deprecating, and with a constant thread of 'Shaun of the Dead' references running through. (Sonny's favourite film - as a sideline to his journey he visits locations, and it provides a metaphor for the other zombies in the story - the Guru's followers). The only flaw for me was that Guru Bim was such an unlikeable character, it was hard to understand how anyone would follow him at all!A coming of age story, but with added murder, kidnapping, cults and drugs, Narcissism for Beginners questions who we are, what makes us, what is family. It is funny; there are heart-wrenchingly sad moments - like when Sonny watches a video of his 5 year old self; but is is all told with an unsentimental lightness of touch.I received a special first edition via Unbound publishers, but the book is available to preorder on Amazon.

  • Ana
    2019-04-09 00:43 for Beginners is the story of a breezy young man who's been through a lot and is about to go through a lot more emotional turmoil. It addresses difficult subjects such as different kinds of dependency - emotional and substance, to name the most frequent, and Sonny's sarcastic tone helps cope with that. I enjoyed this book. The writing is at times too rambling for my taste but at the same time it's part of its charm. The breaks of pace when Sonny would abruptly change what he was narrated kept me interested.The book is written in second person singular, as a letter addressed to Sonny's mother, and despite the somber tone the ending was redeeming enough.I recommend it, but you probably need to have a stomach to deal with heavy stuff.Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • Sjp McGowan
    2019-04-01 01:19

    Narcissism for Beginners is a beautiful novel detailing the unorthodox upbringing of Sonny Anderson, and his 'journey of return' to find out what happened to him, and those around him, when he was younger. The story unfolds carefully, and extraordinary experiences and memories are revealed in an off-beat quirky tone. Some of the events documented could seem fantastical but this never interferes with the truthfulness of the underlying narrative. Ultimately the book appears as a universal path or quest... about those who are brave enough to go back' to find out what lies beneath the myth of family and childhood... and to see what remains. Brilliant. Read it now.

  • Patrick Kincaid
    2019-04-14 07:15

    The note perfect voice McDonagh gives her narrator is the key to this short novel's lingering power. Here's someone whose life has been so strange, so off the normal key, that terrible revelations come as mild surprises, and the day-to-day is to be treasured. And unshowy, deeply resonant performance.

  • Pupak
    2019-04-05 03:14

    I received this book as a lucky winner of Goodreads Giveaway and it came with Martine McDonagh's autograph. I really enjoyed reading the book. It is one of those books that you can't put it down. In my opinion, the overall message of Narcissism for Beginners is that no matter who we are, what is our status, or where we are going, there is one thing that counts and that is LOVE. Love for ourselves and others. It is about how we treat other people and how we care about them and who we cherish having in our lives. Sometimes, we meet people that are not related to us by blood, but they become an important part of our lives and bless us with their being. I enjoyed every second of the book, I traveled with Sonny wherever he was going and I felt everything he was feeling. I would love to read Martine McDonagh's other books as well.

  • Madeleine Robinson
    2019-04-21 08:29

    Thank you Martine McDonagh and Goodreads for the copy of "Narcissism for Beginner" Enjoyably different getting into the head of a just turned 21 year old boy who has just been left a fortune,he is addicted to the film "Shaun of the Dead " he is a brilliant character I got to really like him. I enjoyed his journey to find out about himself and his mother,meeting the people who in the past had known his mother and father and him as a child.Great characters and a most enjoyable read.Hope to meet him again.

  • Sue Campayne
    2019-03-23 06:31

    I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a young man searching for his roots and discovering that people are not always what they seem. Full of surprises and intrigue I was hooked all the way to the end. I highly recommend!

  • Mandy
    2019-03-29 05:15

    Absorbing, refreshingly original and funny with its dark humour and entertaining storyline. This is one of my best reads for the year.

  • Tessa
    2019-04-07 01:14

    This is such a great book for so many reasons. I still have 30 pages to go but will not possibly be able to make it to the end of tomorrow without finishing. In fact I will be late for work if needs be. Refreshing, thoughtful, original, funny, current, well researched... just everything you're looking for.

  • Lynn
    2019-03-31 02:26

    Received as part of a Goodreads Giveaway and came with a lovely note from the author and I really wanted to like this book. However, I got bored with it half way through.