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Failure to launch?

To Daunt’s in Marylebone, last night, where former pretty-boy and nightclub bouncer (and Amorist ‘Fiascos’ columnist) Anthony McGowan launched his latest literary venture, The Art of Failing.

Subtitled Notes from the Underdog, the book chronicles a year in the life of West Hampstead’s shambolic would-be flâneur, by way of library mishaps, bad packed lunches, and hypochondria – taken from and/or inspired by McGowan’s social media output: a stream of semi-sane, self-lacerating anecdotes that over the past few years have established him as a sort of Stewart Lee of Facebook.

As befits a man no longer in the prime of life, there is a lot on matters sexual. His concern that his chlamydia levels might be low, his first kiss with a woman, or the vermin that may or may not swarm all over his soiled loins. Do animals get VD? His fear of women’s pubic hair. His desire to have used fifties shoved down his bra. And – quote – ‘the wrong transsexual’ at the paint shop.

Then there’s his preposterous claim that sometimes people find him quite attractive.

Like as the hart desireth the water-brook, so Our Tone is pretty much guaranteed to make a mess of things. So obviously those attending – bestsellers such as Sebastian Faulks and Tom Holland among them – hoped the gig would be a total train-wreck. But no: he couldn’t even get that right.

McGowan’s agent, Charlie Campbell, tried valiantly to steer proceedings in the right direction, calling The Art of Failing “the worst idea for a book I’ve ever heard” (McGowan’s previous agent having told him the book would ruin his career).

But our anti-hero rallied, and in a clattering, one-handed speech (a ‘cricket injury’…), he gave the people what they wanted: a brief, amusing reading, and a glass of free wine.

He threw in one Top Tip for amorists: “The key to writing about people that you know is just to say that they’re terrifically sexually attractive, and then get on with it.” And then he paused, astutely, to bestow a paean of uxoriousness upon his wife – who, he said, is “less of a monster” than he’s made her seem among these pages. “I’ve always written first of all to make her laugh.”

No doubt the book will be a huge success.

For The Amorist

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