Alex Austin is nearing thirty; a self-confessed fake, charlatan, degenerate and – worst of all – a failed poet, Alex’s life has become a meaningless sequence of bad habits and poor decisions. He ekes out a living doing a job that makes him feel dirty and ashamed. His only friend, JB – the developmentally arrested offspring of two famous psychologists – is just as broken as he is.
He’s emotionally uninvestable: incapable of experiencing pleasure or joy without resorting to unhealthy extremes, Alex’s days are divided between sofa-mining and grief-surfing; shiftily rummaging down the backs of display model couches for fallen coins and notes, and cynically manipulating strangers’ grief for his own depraved gratification.
As his self-destructive behaviour escalates and his self-loathing deepens, Alex is relentlessly, savagely cross-examined and berated by the voice of his own conscience, which speaks to him in the sneering, righteous tones of a retired TV news show host. When Edie – a former grief conquest, now wise to his scam – shows up out of his sordid past, he’s not sure if she’s here to save him or destroy him, and he can’t decide which is the more terrifying prospect.
Anhedonia is a darkly comic study of the way human beings fetishise death; a story about the struggle to find meaning in the disconnected jumble of reality TV, deodorant ads and celebrity murderers; a tribute to the best of our culture and an indictment of the worst.