Good Clean Fun: Reviews

‘Michael Arditti’s Good Clean Fun will not disappoint admirers of his novels.  The diverse, urbane stories here are good, some of them are fun, and others are far from clean, depicting frightening excursions into dangerous territory.  Whether delivering a witty one-liner, exposing the loneliness in a relationship, writing tenderly or with bleak honesty, or, terrifyingly, conjuring up secret desire manifest in brutal human form, Arditti brings to the smaller canvas all the insights, layers of meaning and breadth of vision which distinguish his longer prose.’
Shena Mackay

‘This is what it’s like.  Arditti lets you know it.  What else are writers for?  You close the book moved, persuaded, impressed, wanting more.’
Fay Weldon

‘What is striking about Good Clean Fun is not just its well-crafted stylishness and wit – qualities one takes for granted with this author – but its heart-rending compassion.  These witheringly funny, painfully acute stories about gay life… simply and elegantly break your heart.  They deserve a wide audience and will create a wiser one.’
Amanda Craig, Literary Review   

‘The Marriage of Convenience features Justin and Louise, a gay man and lesbian, who marry in St James’s, Piccadilly, then throw a reception for 200 people and honeymoon in Ibiza.  After the party, they will return to London and continue their separate lives.  However, in their honeymoon suite, Justin and Louise feel curiously attracted to one another and are surprised to find themselves making love.  This heart-warming story of a young couple returning to the straight and narrow is told without irony and would make a crowd pleasing movie.

The title story is similarly cute.  A stand-up comic opens his routine with a series of cheap jokes, then gradually reveals the cracks in his own persona.  Although the depressed comedian is a familiar figure, Arditti crafts his character neatly and skilfully, compressing an exhausting number of gags into very few pages.  In Uncle Brian, a boy describes how he was sexually abused by his stepfather.  The child is nine years old, and does not really know what is happening.  His naïve tone encourages the reader to suspend moral judgement and adopt the child’s view of events, then reveals that the boy has fallen in love with his abuser, and longs for him.

Arditti is at his best when he avoids neat narrative tricks, and simply allows his characters to seduce us with nothing more than the ordinariness of their lives.  Contentment follows a lonely man who picks up a rent boy in a Soho pub and, next morning, to his amazement, finds himself served tea in bed by the boy’s mother.  A situation that might sound gimmicky and ludicrous is in fact deeply moving  The sadness of a solitary man, adrift in the city, is unexpectedly redeemed by a touch, a kiss, a cup of tea.’
Josh Lacey, Times Literary Supplement 

‘Arditti imbues his stories of loneliness, confusion and the uncertainties of sexual neophytes with genuine pathos and an appealing line in dry humour.’
Chris Power, The Times

‘The title story… is marvellous.  Its narrator is a drag artist, but one caught between two worlds.  His campness owes as much to the music hall as to modern tranny acts, which are predicated upon the audience actually fancying the performer.  So he must be heartily asexual and also sexual, and he’s finding it difficult;  especially given that his lover has died, his career is plainly on the rocks, and no one seems to be laughing.  It’s funny, beautiful and chilling. 

Bedtime Story, the tale of an ageing tutor who falls in love with a blond maverick is wonderful.  There’s no particular denouement, just the frustration and pain of someone who thought he could take someone else into his private world and finds that the other has his own agenda.’
Murrough O’Brien, Independent on Sunday

‘Good Clean Fun is a simply outstanding collection of stories that should adorn the bookshelves of any discerning reader.  Elegant, tender, shocking, full of wit and insight – these stories are never less than beautifully executed.’
Wayne Clews, City Life

‘By turns humorous, moving and profound, Arditti has the ability to paint vivid and engaging pictures, drawing the reader into worlds where absurdity and wit have as an important part to play as insight, whether dealing with such disturbing events as child abuse, date rape, marriage of convenience, loneliness, Internet dating or the internecine complexes of the politics of class.’
Emmanuel Cooper, Tribune

‘A diverting selection of tales.’
Peter Burton, Daily Express

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