Few things in life are more daunting than attempting to write a novel. Leaving aside the amount of words you have to write (novels are usually around 80,000 - 100,000 words), there's the enormity of having to create an entire world, peopled by characters that have come straight out of your imagination.
It took me years to get an agent. Hours queuing in post offices, uploading over-sized email attachments, thumbing through the Artists and Writers Yearbook. I filled up folders with rejection letters, had meetings with agents that came to nothing, and put my novel away in a drawer more times than I care to remember.
If the name David Frum is at all familiar to British ears, it is generally closely accompanied by "the man who coined the phrase 'Axis of Evil'". This may be enough for some readers to dismiss anything he has to say as the work of a crypto-fascist, imperialist running dog, but they do so at their peril.
In his first novel, Socrates Adams doesn't seem that bothered about giving you an easy ride. Yes, there's the humour, a requirement for the 'alt lit' canon, and the thread with which he pulls you into his yarn, to have you wince for his characters and cringe through the situations they create for themselves. But it's not the laughs that make this debut an impressive one.
You might remember those books - they probably still make them (I just checked, they do) - called Choose Your Own Adventure where you read a bit, then there's a little action, then you make the hero's choice at some bifurcation of the story.
The Next Thing: McClanahan's first novel will be put out next year by Tyrant Books. He is also writing The Sarah Book in 2012, a chapter of which is included here. Which is all looking pretty good for McClanahan disciples, particularly as he's planning some readings in Europe for next year. Look out for him.