Ronan Hession’s debut novel is a delight.
A tale of two seemingly unremarkable people, the novel’s introverted protagonists spin entirely on their own axis to the rest of society.
And yet, despite this, both Leonard and Hungry Paul – the latter’s hungriness remains to be established – are really quite relatable.
Life’s Simple Pleasures
Leonard and Hungry Paul are 30(ish) year-olds living at home with their parents.
A bit unconventional, right?
Grace, Hungry Paul’s seemingly successful sister, thinks so.
This is the prism through which society views introverts like Leonard and Hungry Paul. Weird… unusual… a departure from the norm.
Why aren’t they doing something with their lives? Why aren’t they moving forward?
This obsession with always moving forward characterises the time in which we live. Lack of a goal, or a life plan, implies a lack of inherent meaning in the unwritten 21st Century social contract.
Leonard and Hungry Paul instead places the focus on just… being.
Its non-conformist heroes are outsiders, and yet completely at peace with this.
A Leisurely Stroll through the 21st Century
There’s no antagonist in Hession’s novel. Nor is there really any tension.
But that’s okay – Leonard & Hungry Paul is not that type of novel. Instead it chronicles the goings-on of two ordinary but nonetheless charming people, living out their ordinary lives.
That doesn’t mean it’s uneventful, however.
Hession’s a witty writer, with a sharp talent for observing social behaviours. This translates into some genuinely amusing (and even touching) moments.
Whether it’s Leonard’s dinner date with Shelley or Hungry Paul’s rather embarrassing trip to the supermarket, each chapter reads like an anecdote. They’re brief snapshots of our unconventional protagonists’ lived experiences.
Other novels attempting a this might fall into the trap of being mawkish, and lacking in significant depth.
But thanks to Hession’s charming style of writing, the meanderings of Leonard and Hungry Paul makes for a very pleasant and memorable reading experience.
Leonard and Hungry Paul is an excellent debut novel. It’s well-written and strikes a strong balance between humour and poignancy. The novel also contains some brilliant observations on social mannerisms.
In what has been an incredibly difficult year, many will find Hession’s novel to be a potent cure for a frantic and often paranoid world.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Hession’s future works, including the upcoming novel Panenka.