Failure to launch?


Photo of Anthony McGowan by Habie Schwarz

The Amorist and most of the staff of Amorous Towers took themselves to Daunt's in Marylebone on Wednesday night where former nightclub bouncer and Amorist 'Romantic 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: a stream of semi-sane, self-lacerating anecdotes that seem expressly designed to induce sympathy (and maybe a little pity) in the female breast.

Amorist readers will be glad to hear there are plenty of passages on matters sexual. McGowan’s concern that his chlamydia levels might be low, his first kiss with a woman, his insatiable curiosity: do animals get VD? His panic at women's pubic hair (the Amorist does not believe it for a second). His desire to have used fifties shoved down his bra. And – quote – 'the wrong transsexual' at the paint shop.


Photo of Rowan Pelling and Sebastian Faulks by Habie Schwarz 

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. Admirers of the boyish McGowan (those who have read the latest copy of the Amorist, with its translation of dating lingo should know ‘boyish’ is code for ‘has just passed 50, but still has a thatch of glossy dark hair') flocked to carouse, flirt and applaud the book. 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' (the author’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 a 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.'


Photo of Anthony McGowan by ASH Smyth 

No doubt the book will be a huge success.

He denied it with his head held high, as any self-respecting adulterer would
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (on Bill Clinton)