Fashion victims

Christopher Hawtree savours the vulgar tale of a yuppie in peril; The Big Kiss by David Huggins Picador, pounds 12.99

Some readers of The Big Kiss might wonder why its author, the son of Jeremy Brett and Anna Massey, has the surname Huggins. Others could question his roping in the unholy crew of Will Self, Stephen Frears, Oscar Moore and Stephen Fry to provide - American-style - the back-cover puffs. Most, however, will not delay over such considerations but quickly get stuck into the "good jokes and good sex" touted by Frears.

Jokes fly from the beginning, but it is only in the middle, around page 100, that there is the sex, to whit: "Her wetness all over my face, she smelt faintly of cumin." This might have the more prurient among us speculating about Frears's tastes and also doubting that even such a culinary metaphor will deflect the gourmet Fry from his avowed celibacy. On the face of it, The Big Kiss offers another variant upon that familiar tale, the yuppie on the skids.

Steve Cork has long since graduated from a stall in Kensington Market to become a partner in a fashion enterprise. Its initial success led him to take out a mortgage on a large house by a golf-course in Roehampton only to find that sartorial whims are not paramount as recession continues. His wife is disgruntled.

It never takes much to awaken the animosity that seethes below the surface of commercial life. At the start, Steve finds himself able to set aside any concern about the strange, even murderous cries which come from his partner Alan's SW7 mews house. Such unconcern does not last long, for it turns out that it is Steve, rather than the alcoholic gay divorcee Tony, who is to get the chop in the restructuring process.

To give away much more of the plot would be unfair. One might safely reveal that, along the way, Steve is given to such hallucinations as the Capital Radio tower bulging before his eyes and a bargain-bin Habitat peppermill grinding perfectly. Not only are there such expected locations as wine bars (it is no advert for the Hilton) but also the psychiatric ward. This sounds grim, but The Big Kiss is far from solemn. One reads on avidly, reluctant to break off and find a pen to note down the jokes. No matter, for it is easy enough to flick back and find copious examples.

Chandler was more seamless and graceful, but Forties LA was not the rough- and-ready place that contemporary London is. Here, young women greet champagne with the words, "Wow! Rock-and-roll mouth-wash! Wicked!" And in Steve's marriage, "seven-year itch had developed into nine-year eczema".

New terror is brought to a screening of Jurassic Park. Not even this quite prepares one for a display of golfing prowess far removed from Updike or Wodehouse. It makes Dan Kavanagh's cheese-wire-round-the-groin scene in Duffy look the stuff of a Sunday tea-time serial. Or, as Oscar Moore puts it when describing the book, it's "a smacker on the gob that pushes its wagging tongue right inside your mouth and licks it dry". One appreciates the sentiment if not the expression. Let us simply say that The Big Kiss, vulgarity itself, offers choice sapidity.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

    £38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn