The Male Gaze received rave reviews on Simon Mayo’s Book Club, where it was selected as Book of the Month. The panel (Alex Heminsley, Boyd Hilton and Joel Morris) were unanimous in their praise, describing it as ‘an incredibly confident novel’, ‘powerful’, ‘beautifully done’, ‘assured’, ‘confident’ and ‘extremely clever’.
Singled out for particular praise were the book’s evocation of LA and its sharp and sensitive observation of a marriage.
Listeners agreed. ‘Like all satisfying reads, there is resolution in its final pages. I needed no coaxing to get there.’
Its strength lies in the acutely realised and believable relationship between David and Rebecca…Catherine Taylor in The Guardian
This debut novel by Joe Treasure is an astonishingly accomplished and assured effort. With the verve of a seasoned author he sweeps into the story of David and Rebecca, transplanted from England to the surreal parallel universe that is Los Angeles. While Rebecca pursues her academic career under the auspices of the irritatingly sophisticated Frankie and Max, David tries in vain to write a text book explaining Islam for students. At a stylish and vacuous cocktail party in the Hollywood hills a child almost drowns and David meets Astrid whose coterie of wacky and damaged friends lead him to challenge everything he believed to be true. When Astrid’s doe-eyed young friend commits suicide, a trail of video evidence leads him through a bizarre series of events culminating in a shocking act of police brutality. This is an intelligent and stylistically polished novel. A dazzling debut.
Mairead Byrne in The Irish Independent
Treasure’s narrator is an academic Englishman recently arrived in LA, and this is a book sharply enlivened by a comic sense of the cultural gulf he has spanned by crossing the Atlantic. For here is American excess writ large: from would-be actresses waiting at every table upon aspiring screenwriters to all the cheap New Age mental tat of a city actually grid-locked by gas-guzzling traffic. And yet the book rapidly morphs into something altogether darker and more compelling. After getting singled out by an alluring redhead at a party and witnessing a suicide in her company, David Parker is set on a trail which takes him to sinister places. Enabled by intelligently witty dialogue and memorably observed detail, the narrative reflects resonantly upon the uses and abuses of post-modern media and the difficulty of remaining emotionally centred amidst its chaos.
Publishing News, in a feature on eight notable debuts of 2007
Joe Treasure is clearly a great believer in the power of the opening sentence: “What wakes me is the scream”… it would be a hard-hearted reader who’d put the book down again at this point. Actually, by page two, we’ve discovered that it’s merely some lotion being spilt down a nice skirt, but you still won’t be putting the book down. By then, you’ll have discovered that David, a blocked writer, has followed his wife Rebecca, an academic, to LA. The opening chapters bounce with great Englishman-abroad stuff, astute one-liners (a newsreader’s announcement of a “heightened terror alert” is “the psychic equivalent of a pollen count”) and kooky characters. There’s the near-drowning of a minor at a poolside party, the domestic fallout from which is more important than the outcome for the small boy in question. In chapter three, there’s an actual drowning… But the fallout from this one, though it begins at home, escalates into a dénouement that takes in the war on terror, Islamophobia, pornography, infidelity – you name it, it’s in there. There’s even a cameo appearance by a character bearing a remarkable similarity to Christopher Hitchens…
Nicola Smyth in the The Independent on Sunday
Funny in a wry, grim way redolent of Graham Greene, Treasure is a clever manipulator of his reader, allowing our expectations to lead us down one road, before he grabs our hands and plunges down another. At the same time I found his limpid, understated prose absorbing to the point that I could easily forget I was reading a novel. Treasure indeed.
Simon Heafield in The Book Magazine
The novel’s greatest success is its portrait of [this] relationship… Although the two spend little time alone together, the strain on their marriage is palpable, and their love – hers solid but exasperated, his adoring and unconditional – is moving. Group dynamics are also well done, in cocktail banter and the inane jargon of the New Agers… Joe Treasure takes an intelligent, nuanced and sympathetic look at the complex and rewarding process of crossing the boundary between looking on and taking part in a new life.
Nora Mahony in the Times Literary Supplement
I loved [The Male Gaze]… It takes a lot of nerve to write a novel about suicide bombers, police brutality, clashes of civilisations… and even more nerve to nest all of those interests within the domestic context of a marriage… It’s a sad, funny, wistful, angry book.
The Male Gaze is Joe Treasure’s scorching debut. A Londoner arriving in LA finds himself embroiled with a girl’s suicide on a beach in Malibu. It’s dark and sad, but equally smart and funny.
Treasure writes with a relaxed yet firm grip on the wheel of narrative…his dialogue is smart and funny, and he has a unique, persuasive voice. His is a name to watch.
Who are you looking at? Ambitious, zeitgeisty, fast-paced story of Brits adrift in LaLa land is a confident debut.
The Independent on Sunday, 29 April 07, in the week’s hot tickets