Shitshow by Fernando Sdrigotti —Anonymous

Tibor Fischer once compared the experience of reading Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog to catching a favourite uncle masturbating in public. Reading Shitshow is worse. It’s like walking over and finishing him off, maintaining steely eye contact throughout. Shitshow’s main theme, social media outrage, is an obvious one for Sdrigotti, who spends far too much time broadcasting his bad opinions via Twitter. His tweets auto-delete after six months – if only his books did the same. His fiction is regularly rejected for publication by his own journal, the appropriately named Minor Literature[s], so what compelled struggling small press Open Pen to take it on is anyone’s guess.

Tibor Fischer once compared the experience of reading Martin Amis’s Yellow Dog to catching a favourite uncle masturbating in public. Reading Shitshow is worse. It’s like walking over and finishing him off, maintaining steely eye contact throughout.

Apparently, Shitshow was originally pitched to them at a Leyton Orient game. I have written to the FA demanding that the O’s be docked 10 points for their role in this sad affair. The cover of Sdrigotti’s previous book, Dysfunctional Males, was illustrated with an image of an overflowing urinal, which was at least fair warning to any prospective reader. Any attempt to visually prepare the reader for the horrors lurking within Shitshow would result in immediate prosecution. The author has since insisted that he is more than just a disgusting repository of piss, and this novel proves it – if by an author’s work shall ye know him, then Sdrigotti is a mouldy sack overflowing with faeces.

Despite the author’s embarrassing public fanboying after more talented writers, as
documented in his spurious ‘sauna series’ interviews, he clearly wasn’t able to find anyone desperate enough to give him a cover quote, which is just as well. This type of writing should come with a government health warning attached, not a blurb. In the interest of balance, I searched for someone who would say a positive word about Shitshow. Most enquiries were met with bewilderment: ‘Fernando who? That awful man who hangs around Stoke Newington Wetherspoons, trying to look edgy? Why the fuck would I read that?’ I did, however, find one fellow sufferer, a literary editor who in her lowest moment on the job had received a story in which someone’s mouth was compared to a gorilla’s anus. After reading a couple of pages of Shitshow, she said, ‘It makes me miss that gorilla’s anus story, honestly. I see that now – they were the golden days’.

In some ways, Shitshow is an impressive achievement. Most authors manage to gain a level of success before descending into self-parody, but Sdrigotti has skipped straight past this step in his race to the bottom. An author friend once remarked that ‘characters will always use subtext. Only the mad have an uncensored connection from mind to mouth’. Sdrigotti would certainly like to be thought of as a character, or as able to write characters, but the use of subtext is entirely beyond his abilities. The result is a whirling confusion, an uneasy glimpse into the Brexit of his mind. Maybe only prolonged exposure to the soothing balm of Matt Haig’s twitter feed can cure him.

The cover of Sdrigotti’s previous book, Dysfunctional Males, was illustrated with an image of an overflowing urinal, which was at least fair warning to any prospective reader. Any attempt to visually prepare the reader for the horrors lurking within Shitshow would result in immediate prosecution. 

It’s been reported that Sdrigotti had significant phrases from Dysfunctional Males tattooed onto his arms to celebrate its publication. In this case, I suggest that extracts from Shitshow ought to be etched permanently onto his forehead, as both a public shaming and a warning to others. They say everybody has a novel in them. Sometimes, they’re best kept in – and I personally will not rest until every copy of Shitshow has been wedged firmly back into Fernando Sdrigotti.


By anonymous.

Shitshow by Fernando Sdrigotti is available now from Open Pen.

A response to this review by the author discussed can be read here: https://goo.gl/vVH97j