Sounds Like Fun delivers exactly what the title proffers — quiet reluctance and an exploratory hunger. Having left Ireland behind to pursue Rich, an older Englishman, Eoin is left stunned by his partner’s desire to open up their relationship. Nevertheless, he complies, never expecting to be plunged into a world of newfound anxiety and attachment.
From the outset, there’s a certain distance between the eye and the page. Events seem to thrive in the realm of speech more often than that of deed, “They were telling a story in their usual style, Danni prompting and annotating Shanice’s narrative as she went.”
This exposes a gap between action and reflection, one that invites an element of exaltation to enter the folds of the narrative. What’s more, it doesn’t translate to true potency, creating a slightly hackneyed reality,
However, while a little jarring at first, this excitability quickly exposes the humor that informs it. As crucial as the trajectory of Eoin’s relationship feels for Sounds Like Fun on the whole, the unexpected wonders of the mundane prove just as fundamental.
Eoin’s interactions with his co-workers at the café are particularly delightful, from Hugo flinging a tea towel when asked to make two toasties simultaneously to Billy turning hysterical in the secluded basement toilet.
This workplace mayhem serves to invoke a giddy sense of schadenfreude, both in the reader and every other supporting character,
These antics also feel like a natural prelude to Eoin’s playful, if a little bleak, floundering in the world of casual hookups. And so, what at first appeared to be pure abandon soon bares great intricacy, guiding our focus to the “porous and shape-shifting entity” that is any relationship.
From here, Sounds Like Fun plunges into themes of loneliness, the difficulty of forming friendships as an adult, as well as our tendency to cling to someone — anyone, really — for fear of facing the chasm of life alone,
And so, misdirected by his boyfriend’s burning wish, Eoin ends up searching for a direction of his own. His devotion to a life of passion leaves him stranded and forsaken, not least by the man to whom he’d given himself so completely. But this is also where James, the earnest and teasing love interest, is allowed to make his resounding entrance.
And as Sounds Like Fun’s interrelational dynamics become more and more twisted, an unexpected mystery unfolds. Eoin’s missing boss, strange after-hours activities at the café, and dwindling finances on all fronts converge to rattle his life that much more.
Ultimately, in an effort to find the courage to reach out for the one that fits his current self best, Eoin must drill beneath the veneer of every aspect of modern selfhood: ambition, desire, and fulfillment. The journey is worth every second of anguish.
Publication date: March 30, 2023 (Hodder & Stoughton)