Hello Darkness tells the story of a journalist who hates journalism.
Hello Darkness tells the story of a journalist who hates journalism.

Book review: Hello Darkness


Author: Sam De Brito

Publisher: Picador (Pan Macmillan Aust)

RRP: $32.99


IN 2008, journalist and renowned blogger Sam de Brito released his debut novel, The Lost Boys, which followed the fortunes of Ned Jelli from his teenage years through to his early 30s.

In Hello Darkness de Brito reprises Jelli, who is now 39 and back working at the tabloid newspaper in Sydney where he started his career as a copy-boy 20 years ago.

There is one big problem with all of this - Jelli hates journalism.

In fact, Jelli struggles to find much he likes about his life.

While I did not read The Lost Boys, it is glaringly obvious that Jelli has hardly changed in the years that have lapsed between the two novels.

He is a narcissistic, alcoholic, misogynist who is totally obsessed with women and the total lack of direction in his life.

The novel follows Jelli in his pursuit of something better, a career, a job, a meaningful relationship. But whenever it looks like his life may be finally getting in track Jelli seems to self-implode.

Overall, Jelli is not a very likable person.

But he has a dry sense of humour and a quick-wit which often had me in tears of laughter.

While he is prone to rather outrageous comments, most of what he says is often on the mark.

For me, as a journalist, I found many aspects of the story fascinating.

De Brito obviously understands newsrooms in daily newspapers and I found many humorous parallels between the almost unbelievable world de Brito describes and real life.

Apart from his career as a journalist, de Brito is known for his extensive blogging and I'm not so sure his style suits the novel format.

I read this book waiting for a discernable plot to develop, but through 350 pages none emerged.

The story simply follows Jelli from one disaster to the next as he fails to improve his life.

Despite the lack of plot I still enjoyed the book and found myself liking Jelli, despite all of his obvious deficiencies.

This is not a book for someone who is looking for an easy read.

Hello Darkness is more for a person who wants a book which will make them reflect on where their life is at and whether they are happy in what they do.

In short, Hello Darkness explores the cost of being less than you had imagined and wishing for things that are well beyond your reach.

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