Inspired by Martin Amis and Zadie Smith, Ben Masters bursts on the literary scene with his lively and erudite debut novel about a college graduate on the cusp of adulthood.

Eliot Lamb has had countless nights like this before. He's out with his mates, pint in hand, shots at the ready.  They're at the King's Arms and will soon be making their familiar descent: pub, bar, club. But this time it's different.  When the night ends and ...
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Noughties: A Novel

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Inspired by Martin Amis and Zadie Smith, Ben Masters bursts on the literary scene with his lively and erudite debut novel about a college graduate on the cusp of adulthood.

Eliot Lamb has had countless nights like this before. He's out with his mates, pint in hand, shots at the ready.  They're at the King's Arms and will soon be making their familiar descent: pub, bar, club. But this time it's different.  When the night ends and tomorrow begins, he'll graduate from Oxford and head reluctantly into adulthood.  As he stares into the foam of his first beer, he knows it won’t be easy.  He’ll have to confront his feelings for Ella, an Oxford classmate whose passion for literature matches his own, as well as Lucy, his first love, whose ominous phone calls and text messages are threatening to unravel him. And then there’s the tragic secret he's been hiding all this time, which is about to find its way out and send his night into serious turmoil.
     Ben Masters has written a thoroughly modern coming of age story full of style, heart, and humor. Eliot Lamb—for all his mastery of literary theory, postmodern novels, and classic poetry—is going to be dragged into adult life, whether he likes it or not.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In British author Masters's precocious debut novel, English lit student Eliot Lamb is on the verge of graduating from Oxford. During a night of raucous drinking—a last hurrah for Eliot and his friends, "the Noughties"—our narrator is caught between his long-term girlfriend Lucy and his brilliant mate Ella. Nostalgic for his first love, Eliot stifles his attraction to Ella because of their own fraught history and the jealousy of his best friend Jack. As the group stumbles from pub to bar to club, and Eliot reflects on his three years of study, tension builds among the sex-obsessed friends as secrets from the near-past emerge. The melodramatic plot includes love triangles, abortion, attempted suicide, and seedy sex, with plenty of text-message jargon to convey the aimlessness of 21st-century youth. But anti-hero Eliot, whose literary background becomes an excuse for hyper-stylized linguistic hijinks and erudite allusions, is an unpleasant host to the party and lacks the energy of, say, The Rachel Papers' Charles Highway. One too many dream sequences and rather too much ponderous talk about the state of contemporary identity allow the novel to founder in its pretentions, despite moments of wit and genuine pathos about university days. Agent: Georgia Garrett, AP Watt. (Oct. 9)
From the Publisher
"[Masters] writes with astonishing awareness and clarity…It’s inevitable that we will flash back to our own raucous college years, but Masters has a freshness and bite that forces us to take a slight step back, even as we laugh…Masters perfectly voices the simultaneous feeling of youth and exhaustion that all twenty-somethings face.” 
New York Daily News 

[Masters] has captured the idiom and universe of his subjects perfectly.”
The Daily Beast

Praise from the UK for Noughties

“A lively, bittersweet hymn to student days. . . Funny and tender. . . . Noughties is a caustic, street-smart novel for our times.”
Financial Times

“[Noughties] is intelligent and entertaining and, like early Martin Amis, it is an attempt to say something honest and even modest under a superficially flashy stylistic surface.”
The Sunday Times

“This confident debut will infuriate you, make you laugh, trigger lots of nostalgia and leave you with a knowing smile”
Time Out London

“All-singing, all-dancing style, full of flourishes and wordplay.  A genuine comic talent.”
Daily Mail

“Masters is expert on the rhythms and textures of the student experience.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“A faultless prose style. . . . Moments of brilliance. . . . Noughties triumphs.”
Dazed and Confused

Kirkus Reviews
A young Oxford graduate spends his last night of university drinking and reflecting and drinking and drinking and drinking. Like a literary version of Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping," the hero of this debut novel by Oxford-grad Masters gets knocked down--a lot. Eliot Lamb is a 21-year-old English student who is about to get expelled from the idyllic coziness of university. Despite being a textbook example of the British university system, Eliot swears he and his mates are different. "We don't stand on these benches drunkenly railing the Latin creed at bloated dons and upper-class undergraduates. Nah. We are more likely to chant yob tunes and smack empty pint glasses upside down on our gelled heads," Masters writes. For this Last Night, Elliot has gathered his tribe in the King's Arms: There's Jack, the best mate; Scott, the sensitive rugby player; and the girls, Ella, Abi and Megan, with whom Eliot's crew shares lurid histories. Masters spikes the drunken ramble from pub to bar to club with flashbacks to Eliot's university history, not least his heartbroken obsession with former girlfriend Lucy, who receives many the maudlin text message during the narrative. The novel is well-written and propulsive, but there's a lack of experience that makes the book's drama seem painfully naïve. "After all that's happened, I can't tell if finishing uni is a relief or a tragedy...all the drama; all the heartbreak and confusion. I think we share too much history to lose one another though; we've held our thorny secret for so long. But trying to keep it buried has done us no good." Unfortunately, Elliot's big "secret" is a worn-out trope found in every freshman creative writing class. The rest of the story, while readable and entertaining, amounts to Elliot's regular punctuation of "Guzzle, guzzle, chug." A green debut that yearns for the caustic wistfulness of Bret Easton Ellis or Nick Hornby, but just misses.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307955678
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 10/9/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,176,392
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Ben Masters is twenty-five years old. He studied English at Oxford University and is currently working on a PhD at Cambridge University.  Noughties is his first novel.
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Table of Contents

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