Roland Denning’s short novel The Beach Beneath the Pavement is a satirical portrait of would-be rogue Bernard Hawks, a journalist whose career is on the skids, in a paranoid, scaredy-cat world (represented by present-day London and environs) in which the leading, and indeed only, ideology is a mind-numbing consumerism premised on the very shaky nihilist pilings of “post-credibility”– a jumbled self-contradictory anti-theory full of portentous nonsense that everybody (except our protagonist Bernard and his Sancho Panza Dilwyn) uses to justify all manner of cowardice, stupidity, double-think, cruelty, and frittering-away of life.
Although some of the tropes in this book are Pynchonian, the writer whose works kept coming to my mind as I read The Beach Beneath the Pavement was Carl Hiaasen, whose broad-brush satires of venal bastards destroying the natural and cultural beauty of Florida, although they read sometimes like Three-Stooges scripts, burn with a white-hot rage. Like Hiassen, Denning is angry about the mindless destruction of something beautiful. Like Hiaasen, Denning can be sentimental and lazy. But also like Hiaasen, when Denning is funny, he’s very, very funny. I laughed ’til I thought I was going to be sick, even as bombs were going off in Olde London Towne every other chapter.
I recommend this book enthusiastically.