Insecurity by James Nowlan follows a security guard, Tom, who has gone through multiple traumatising events that changed his life’s course mostly for the worst. He grew up part of a snake handling cult in the Midwest and eventually ended up homeless in New York City, from where, after horrific encounters with a very specific group of people – but not only – he decides to flee to Europe. Already vulnerable and mentally fragile, Tom ends up in Paris working as a security guard and, eventually, becomes governed by hallucinations that determine him to mix reality with false images.
Nowlan’s book was a rather peculiar novel that I unfortunately didn’t resonate with, and that for a multitude of reasons. One of them is the portrayal of women – sex workers mostly – who are perceived by the protagonist as always hungry for sex and are gravely objectified. There’s also an incident implying an overweight woman who is perceived as loathsome for being overweight and I didn’t like the approach. However; there’s no denying that such situations are very common in reality and my view is profoundly influenced by previous experiences. If the author’s purpose was to provoke a certain feeling of disgusts to the reader, he certainly succeeds at doings so through various scenes. The hallucinations the protagonists is forced to deal with are mostly very odd and often times even creepy, which is quite thought provoking.
Although I certainly don’t agree with numerous points of view presented in the book (I am aware its fiction), there are quite a few sections that resemble what for many represents reality. There are some qualitative descriptions of poverty and how the system fails at offering support and shelter for those facing the difficulties of life. Also, the approach to cults is quite indicative of how destructive they can be for one’s mental and, implicitly, physical health. Regardless, there were quite a few aspects I couldn’t overlook – including some grammar mistakes – and I feel rating it two stars is fair (although it is one of those books that I found difficult to rate because I can’t put a finger on the author’s purpose, and if Nowlan’s was to write a novel that felt like a punch in the stomach, then it’s a four star read). Thank you to the author for sending me his novel in exchange for an honest review. You can find Insecurity here.
Author: James Nowlan
Publication Date: 2023
Publisher: Independently published
Format: Paperback|202 pages
4 thoughts on “Insecurity by James Nowlan | Book Review”
Seems interesting but I think I would find it a bit hard going. The star rating is often not a perfect system is it?
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I believe it’s quite alright, the rating system focus on stars. Do you have another experience with it?
Maybe I don’t know the system well enough. I just think some readers might give a lower rating simply because the book was not to their taste. You very carefully explained your rating which is as should be. I am not sure everyone is as fair or dedicated.
Aren’t you supposed to rate a book based on how you found it? If it’s not to my taste, I certainly will rate it accordingly. But yes, there are tendencies to rate a book higher or lower, based on certain influences (popularity, author’s biases, etc.).