A brilliantly funny novel about masculinity, identity, sockpuppets and steroids, for fans of The Talented Mr Ripley, David Szalay and Peep Show
'I loved Matthew Sperling's sly, subversive novel, a wickedly funny tale of how to come out on top in a fake news world.' Olivia Laing
At thirty, Ned is in a rut. His girlfriend has dumped him, his job is boring and he lives in a dismal bedsit. While others around him climb the property ladder and get ahead, he seems destined to remain one of life's plodders.
Encouraged by a friend to try using steriods to bulk up his frame, Ned is thrilled to discover a new vitality within himself. Physical changes are only the beginning: his mental state is clearer, he feels more confident and, most thrillingly of all, friends and lovers alike seem compelled by this new improved Ned.
Using his knowledge of the murky yet surprising online world of steroids, Ned begins to build a business and discovers that his talents can take him further than he ever thought possible. But when is new life is threatened, he finds himself doing things he never would have dared to do before.
And it all seems to be going fine . . .
ASTROTURF explores identity, class, belonging and masculinity both online and IRL, with a light touch and a keen sense of humour. Ripley-esque in its depiction of a morally dubious but compelling main character, it is likely to appeal to readers of David Szalay's All That Man Is and those who enjoy Jonathan Franzen's flawed but entertaining male protagonists. It also has a touch of the pathos and ironic British sensibility that made Peep Show such a brilliant and era-defining TV show.
'I loved Matthew Sperling's sly subversive novel, a wickedly funny tale of how to come out on top in a fake news world.'
Outrageous, sexy and funny. Sperling writes with the caustic economy of Waugh or Spark, but his characters have more heart, including the sock-puppets. The plot is so taut I'm still re-reading it trying to work out exactly how he brings the tension of a heist movie to 30-something bedsit London, all the while deliciously subverting our expectations. A joy to read - Luke Kennard, author of The Transition
I throughly enjoyed reading this witty 21st Century Faustus. It succeeded in doing what so many recent novels only aspire to: capturing the compulsive excitement of a life lived online, and the concomitant diminishment of IRL existence. A take about steroids which seemed to be on steroids itself: sleek, muscular and just slightly too real. - Kate Clanchy
I loved Matthew Sperling's sly, subversive novel, a wickedly funny tale of how to come out on top in a fake news world.