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Comedians rarely make great fiction writers, the temptation to throw in cheap one-liners distracting them from any substantial narrative--which is why Alexei Sayle's first attempt at proper literature is a nice surprise. Although riddled with dark humour, his short story collection Barcelona Plates is actually best when he's being serious. Sayle has a knack for story-telling and a twisted imagination which creates perverse characters. They're mostly melancholic beings whose lives are in a rut when the smallest twist of fate changes everything--from the call centre employee who spills cream on her suit to the business woman who loses her keys. Especially good is "The Minister For Death", in which a retired pipe fitter from Liverpool discovers, after an incident returning from the chip shop with a steak pie, that old people are invisible in modern society and gains retribution as the "stealth codger".
After 17 years in London, Sayle's representation of his adopted city is powerful--from a nature reserve in Kings Cross to likely lads down Bermondsey, from wealthy Islington squares to Clerkenwell on a Saturday night. He eruditely describes the early evening Soho populace as, "Clerks in raincoats clutching beer bottles by the neck, standing outside bars looking up and down the street as if good times were about to arrive in a taxi."
Barcelona Plates is side-tracked from time to time by rants, such as Disneyland's rancid evil or the "stupidity" of recent comedy, mirroring Sayle's sardonic demeanour and acerbic monologues on TV. However overall, it's an entertaining collection of absurd yarns. --Sarah Champion --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Brilliant tragedy and brilliant comedy in one stunning sentence...It reminded me most of nothing I'd ever read before.' (Douglas Adams)
'A cracking read...dense with smart ideas, sour observations and loony rants' ( Independent on Sunday )
'Arch, desiccated and menacing...brilliant' ( The Times )
'Barcelona Plates will put a smile on your face and a chill down your spine.' ( Time Out )
Despite a rousing endorsement from the legendary Douglas Adams on the back cover, Sayle's first collection of short fiction is something of a mixed bag in terms of quality. Read morePublished on 30 July 2013 by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
One I have recommended to friends on many occasions. Even to my book club although they have not seen fit to include it in their reading list yet. Read morePublished on 15 April 2013 by Henry Blythe
This is a collection of short stories, all of which have either a sinister or an amusing twist in the tail. For some, the twist is both sinister and amusing. Read morePublished on 19 Jun. 2010 by Lance Mitchell
This is a vivid and deeply funny collection of often nihilistic stories from a man with a razor-sharp wit and an intelligent mind. Read morePublished on 20 May 2007 by Elizabeth Gershwin
..apart from David Sedaris I s'pose. Alexie Sayle has been around for awhile & lets be honest here, his live & TV output has been rotten & bloated for a decade. Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2004
The good short story is the hardest form of writing to master. Sayle produces enjoyable reading throughout this collection. Read morePublished on 19 Jan. 2001
This is an excellent book that fills out truly original ideas into short stories so that you can fully enjoy the build up to the punchline/twist. Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2000