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A White Merc With Fins Paperback – 2 Jan 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099591510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099591511
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 826,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Confident and sassy, brilliant" (Time Out)

"A very comic and brilliant book... James Hawes has adapted an enjoyable narrative poise of cynical idealism, both a loving and a loathing of modern Britain... A new novelist of prodigious talent" (Tobias Jones Spectator)

"A White Merc With Fins is determined and surprisingly successful at transporting the aesthetic of Pulp Fiction and the caper plot of Reservoir Dogs to Shepherd's Bush... Fast, sexy, bristling with more neologisms than a Douglas Coupland novel" (GQ)

"Fantastically well done... revitalizes his genre" (Independent on Sunday)

"Brilliant fun" (Q)

Book Description

'Very funny, very caustic... an antic satire of greed, class warfare and sexual high jinx' - New York Times

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Greshon on 28 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm getting rid of this book so I thought I'd write it a farewell review before it leaves. It's James Hawes' 1996 debut novel, a story about a heist, set in London. I read it 8 years ago and it provided very little amusement and not many enduring memories. I can't believe it seems to have received so much positive praise. I thought it was highly derivative (it published 2 years after Pulp Fiction and 5 years after Reservoir Dogs and it tries to bring their action and mood to a grittier, grimmer London) and full of cliched, two-dimensional characters. I'd say there's also something of Hornby in there as well but, again, this is of a lower order.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rhys M Watkins on 9 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
A fast paced romp through the wasteland of postgraduate disenchantment in modern Britain. This is an addictive read which never fails to entertain. A thriller and love story with plenty of hardnosed attitude and the seedy realism of the big city.It's stuffed full of delightfully bizarre characters all hustling the narrative towards the finale, the heist. Ironically an attempt to violently remove money from Michael Winner's bank. We should be so lucky.Those of us slowly metamorphosing into the bald man in the bedsit had better watch out. There are plenty of seditious thoughts seeping out here to unsettle us all.
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Format: Paperback
I read this after I had read "Rancid Aluminium" which I believe to be the second novel from James Hawes. A lot of the things I really enjoyed about Rancid Aluminium were not so well developed in White Merc With Fins. For a start I have to say what he means are spoilers not fins. Fins are what you have on 1950s cars! The characters are more shallow, and they are shallow because they depict shallow people. I think if I had read this book when it first was published I would have empathised a lot more with the characters in it, especially the "hero" in that I was about his age at the time the book was written and probably shared a lot more of his attitudes then than I do now.

The book almost had a nostalgic feel to it. Perhaps the pop culture references which resonate with the 1990s and the whole feel seems to take me back to those times... I've moved on and so has the world. I think maybe if you weren't a groovy young thing in the 90s (maybe you are a groovy young thing now) then a lot of the charm of the book will be lost on you.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as Rancid Aluminium. I will be reading more of James Hawes work, but I will be hoping to find this the starting point of his writing career rather than the standard of it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By lckeating@yahoo.com on 28 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic read. Hawes writes very poignantly about what it's like to feel lost in your late twenties. If you're one of those people who, like me, still have no clue what you want to do with your life (even though everyone thinks you should), then many passages of the book will resonate deeply. I honestly don't see how anyone could find the book boring...the only explanation I have is that the plot may seem a bit familiar to those now aquainted with the Lock Stock genre of movies, but Hawes wrote the book before all of that. I think it's definitely a worthwhile read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Curnow on 1 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
Absolutely first rate book. Really exciting and thought provoking. The characters are excellent and the reviewer who was ranting about Martin Amis and Douglas coupland it talking rubbish and clearly MAF(read the book if you are confused!). The book is easily on a par with Money or Generation X and far better than most of stuff by both of these authors. I wish James Hawes would write something else, its been 6 years!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. Reynolds on 27 July 2004
Format: Paperback
It beats me why they made Hawes's subsequent novel, the appalling 'Rancid Aluminium', into a movie when 'A White Merc With Fins' could have been made in to a new Italian Job for Generation X - instead of letting Mark Wahlberg get cheesy with it.

But I digress...this story is a wonderful fin-de-siecle roman-a-clef for all Gen-Xers stuck in the temp land of their twilight twenties.

Even without my BS, I strongly recommend you buy and read this book. Hawes has created wonderful characters that are entirely believable to anyone who has descended from a proto-middle-class university life and into the twilit world of semi-legality, where 'Black Widow' Suzie, Mr Superservice and Dai Substantial are archetypes amongst one's aquaintances.

I had my doubts that Hawes would be able to maintain this high standard and although I am not holding my breath (for this is as good as it gets) I still give 'White Merc' 5 stars for its cheek, its cheer and the fact that I saw myself in it many times over.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up 'A White Merc...' with real expectation. Two or three friends had recommended it to me and given the novel glowing references. What a let down! The novel is self-consciously trendy. I am sure that bored A-Level students will consume it with glee but if you are a discerning reader then there are plenty of reasons to avoid this hotch-potch of styles and inspirations. This is a poor man's 'London Fields': both are London based crime novels but at least in Amis you are presented with a number of complex and autonomous characters. Hawes challenges his readers with one. The rest of the gang are caricatures with little depth. Hawes even names one of his players 'Dai Substantial' which is a suitable characternym but to anyone familiar with characters like Guy Clinch, Keith Talent and Nicola Six then Hawes' lack of imagination will be painful. One of the reviews on the back cover draws a parallel between Hawes and Douglas Coupland. Good grief! Hawes isn't half the writer Coupland is. Do yourself a favour. Buy this for a teenager and get them interested in reading pulp fiction and treat yourself to something 'substantial' like 'Money', 'London Fields' or 'Generation X'.
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