Book review: Man Vs Child

Friday, August 9, 2013 Permalink

Three years ago Dominic Knight asked the world at large, “Is it okay for a single man to admit he’s broody?”

Of course,” would be my response but others were not as evolved as yours truly apparently surprised.

It all started in July 2010 when Dom Knight (known for his writing work on The Chaser and – more recently – The Hamster Wheel) confessed in a SMH newspaper column that he kinda wanted kids.

Although not inciting public protests or a Royal Commission the topic generated quite a bit of interest, resulting in a few follow-up posts and Knight’s newly-released novel, Man Vs Child.

I’m assuming much of the novel was drawn from his real life although interestingly Knight’s alter-ego, Dan McIntyre, (for most of the novel) doesn’t really want kids. In fact he publicly eschews the concept of Bridget Jones’s smug marrieds. Mirroring Knight’s own life (mentioned in his columns), Dan – wannabe comedian and breakfast radio show producer – has lost most of his posse to partners, kids and family-friendly events.

In some ways Man Vs Child is a coming-of-age novel for grown-ups. Dan is feeling thwarted professionally as he struggles to maintain relationships with old friends who’ve essentially moved on (and up). Although he doesn’t want their lives, he’s not terribly contented with his own.

It’s never really occurred to me that men would / could be less-broody than women, but it was interesting that – although Dan wasn’t ready to move to the burbs or change dirty nappies – he certainly wanted someone to come home to at night and someone with which to share the mundane. I mean, he’d take casual sex when he could get it, but what he really wanted was a partner and relationship.

Dan’s encounter with childhood love and prom date Penny, now a recently-separated single mother, takes his life in another direction. Coinciding with some major career changes and professional opportunities dishevelled Dan morphs before our very eyes.

The insight into the media industry (morning radio and its ratings’ battles) through Dan’s professional life adds a dimension that is as interesting to me as the personal stuff. Dan’s dealings with radio announcers; the fading Bry Dynamite and not-so Silly Sally is a high point.

As a singleton whose friends became increasingly (though understandably) unavailable and entrenched in coupledom and family life; I could seriously relate to Dan’s frustrations and I found myself nodding and eye-rolling along with him.

Although a bit slow to start I was soon drawn into Dan’s first-person world; giving us a no-holds-barred insight into his life. As a wannabe writer (of some sort) I hope my prose is as accessible to readers!

My only disappointment was that Knight kinda skipped over some chunks of Dan’s life and his burgeoning relationship with Penny and her baby; with several weeks passing in the turn of a page.

I really enjoyed Man Vs Child and am now going to investigate Knight’s two previous novels. I was surprised at how quickly I raced through the book and the fact I read the second half in one sitting (something I usually only do with crime fiction).

I came to care A LOT about Dan and his world, and I guess that’s the point.

Have I tempted you to pick up a copy? 
Have you read any of Dom Knight’s novels?
Do YOU think it’s okay for a man to be broody?

 I was provided with a copy of this book for review purposes, however all opinions expressed in this space are mine, written with the objective of giving readers my personal opinion.

Man Vs Child is available now from all of the usual places.

  • Jo Tracey
    August 9, 2013

    Yes to all of your questions. Check out Richard Fidler’s interview with him on podcast (iTunes free)…yes, I’m a nerd!

    • Debbish
      August 9, 2013

      Will check out the interview. Thanks for that!

  • rah
    August 10, 2013

    I remember the tweets about that article! Might have to get this :))

  • @Kanga_Rue
    August 10, 2013

    Definitely keen to read!

I'd love to hear your thoughts