What You Could Have Won by Rachel Genn
"How can I write something that does justice to the unexpected turns, the dazzling intricacies, the humour and the heartbreak and the poetic description of this novel? I can’t – I’d better ask Rachel Genn to do it for me." Andrew McMillan
Fame is the only thing worth having. Love is temporary brain damage. Or so thinks Henry Sinclair, a failing psychiatrist, whose career-breaking discovery has been pinched by a supervisor smelling of nipple grease and hot-dog brine.
An emotional miser and manipulator par excellence, desperate for the recognition he's certain his genius deserves, Henry claws his way into the limelight by transforming his girlfriend--a singer-in-ascendance, beloved for her cathartically raw performances--into a drug experiment. As he systematically works to reinforce feelings of worthlessness while at the same time feeding off Astrid's fame, and as Astrid collapses deeper into dependence, what emerges is a two-sided toxic relationship: the bullying instincts of a man shrunk by an industry where bullying is currency, and the peculiar strength of a star more comfortable offloading her talent than owning her brilliance. Pinging between their apartment in New York (where they watch endless episodes of The Sopranos), a nudist campsite in Greece (where the tantalizingly handsome Gigi thwacks octopi into the sand), and a celebrity rehab facility in Paris (founded by the cassock-wearing and sex-scandal plagued 'artist' Hypno Ray), What You Could Have Won is a relationship born of regrettable events, and a novel about female resilience in the face of social control.