Sinker – Jason Johnson – Book Review by Dan O’Neill
Hook, Line and Sinker
Imagine a circuit that goes round Europe with glamorous women, sponsorship, television rights and where the stars are feted by their hard-core of fans. You might be thinking Poker; you’d be wrong. You might also be thinking Formula One; you’d also be wrong. How about Professional Drinking? No? Bet you didn’t think of that one. Although, as Barry Norman claims he never said, ‘and why not?’ You may never look at alcohol in the same light again. It is a gawdy tale that features, er, Gaudi.
Jason Johnson’s ‘Sinker’ creates a World where ‘athletes’ are professional drinkers, known as the eponymous ‘Sinkers’. The quantities of alcohol described in each round are enough to paralyse or kill most normal boozers i.e. Irish binge drinkers. But not for our hero Baker Forley, who competes with the best of them in the topsy turvy World of the Professional Drinking Association (PDA).
Essentially, Baker and his Trainer, Ratface, – yes, you’re reading that right, Trainer – travel out to Mallorca to compete in the latest round of PDA quaffing. While out there, Baker’s adventures start as he falls for the beautiful wife of a Sheik and finds himself landing in a whole heap of trouble. ‘Sinker’ is peppered with lots of drinking and
fighting but with wry observations about both and on the nature of masculinity. This is a novel in the tradition of what can best be described as Ulster Picaresque; there is plenty of ‘colour’ throughout. Jason Johnson shows himself to be a fine and accomplished wordsmith.
Johnson has written a hugely entertaining and enjoyable novel. Is his World credible? Strangely, yes. We can feel the sweat, and indeed the sweats, as our epic drinkers seek to be the last man standing in the scorching Spanish heat. The dialogue is razor sharp and frequently laugh out loud funny. There are numerous laughs and scrapes along the
way which make this a winning third novel from this talented and engaging writer. This reviewer would caution you to enjoy ‘Sinker’ sensibly.
‘Sinker’ – Jason Johnson – Liberties Press – €13.99 rrp