Lion Attack! by Oliver Mol

Oliver Mol deals in honesty and optimism. His memoir, Lion Attack!, the inaugural co-winner of the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers, carries the subtitle ‘I’m trying to be honest and I want you to know that’. While aspects of this memoir are fictionalised, Lion Attack! is a deeply personal work. Fragments of ‘sudden memoir’, predominately reflections on growing up in a pre-9/11 America, are interspersed within a longer narrative – Mol as a twenty-something writer, who’s just moved to Melbourne. He’s stumbling through life, plugging away in the Keep Cup warehouse to get by and pining for a girl he chats to online. He’s hopeful, he’s overthinking everything and he wears his rapidly-beating heart firmly on his sleeve.

Mol might be Australia’s answer to contemporary Alt Lit – he cites Steve Roggenbuck and Scott McClanahan as stylistic influences and the striking cover design for Lion Attack! strongly evokes Tao Lin’s most marketable work of fiction yet, Taipei. In Lion Attack! Mol utilises his distinctly naïve narrative voice to examine what coming-of-age in Australia means today. A lot of this memoir is focused internally – reading this book is like meeting Oliver Mol in person. He bares all (literally – Mol is naked in his author photo) and his voice is earnest, exuberant, and alive with a beat that will get stuck in your head. Like with any friend who has a habit of oversharing, Mol risks coming across as not just self-aware but self-absorbed. But when Mol applies this honesty to various relationships, particularly with his family members, it’s hard not to be genuinely moved, and impossible not to relate.

With Lion Attack! Mol offers a funny, affecting and accessible reflection on his youth and the nature of memory. This memoir is embellished, but Mol is interested in emotional truth, rather than the distinction between fiction and nonfiction. Lion Attack! is Mol speaking frankly about who he is – he’s kind, he tries hard and he’s written a book unlike anything you’ve ever read before.

Stella Charls is marketing and events coordinator for Readings.