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Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel [Kindle Edition]

Gordon Burn
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Book Description

One of Britain's most fearless writers takes on real news stories in the most ambitious and innovative novel of the year.

Product Description

Summer 2007 was an extraordinarily rich time for news. Floods. Foot and mouth. The disappearances of Tony Blair and Madeleine McCann. The arrival of Gordon Brown. Terror attacks in Glasgow. And Gordon Burn, artist, journalist and true-crime author, has taken the events from this bleak summer and turned them into an utterly unique novel about the way news is made, and how the media creates and manipulates the stories we see before us. A daring and thrilling novel from one of the most astute observers of celebrity and tragedy, that is sure to make the headlines itself.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 395 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571240267
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction (16 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005CG8HVG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #305,027 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2007 Through A Lens Darkly 11 Jan 2009
Completed in February 2008, the book is a collage of events and coincidences culled from the UK news pages of summer 2007, in particular the abduction of Madeleine McCann and the transfer of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown. Gordon Burn's previous novels spun a web of detail about the British landscape and its fallen celebrities (from showbiz and crime) that weaved a rich portrait of Britain in the present and recent past. He takes this approach a stage further here, looking at the near present tense of the writing. He crams in detail from media reported news from 2007; there is a richness of detail but the casualty is the crafted complex prose that painted tangible characters and was so central to his previous fictional works. The writing here has none of the depth of his earlier novels (probably due to the speed with which he completed the book). There is really no character painting here (no fictional characters as such) and this is the book's loss. To compensate Burn brings together some powerful ideas around celebrity, glamour, death, and life as a media icon, harking back to 'Alma Cogan'. 'Born Yesterday' is more a cultural critique than a novel, but an engaging read anyway. I personally hope to see Gordon Burn return to his more fictionalised take on the shifting social landscape of Britain that serves as such good starting point for his observational writing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE 27 April 2008
In 'Born Yesterday: The News As A Novel' Gordon Burn guides us through the big British news events of 2007, focusing particularly on the handover of power from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown and on the dissapearance of Madeleine McCann - as seen through the prism of the modern, 24/7 mass media - with literary skill and journalistic exactitude.

Burn clearly has some important things to say about the way the modern mass media effects our lives. The use of Marketing techniques to try to 'sell' an image to the public of Gordon Brown in order to win public approval and the attempt to 'sell' Madeleine McCann's image as a means of keeping her memory alive are both particularly salient in the book. The gap/discrepancy between media image and everyday reality, or in the words of Burn, between 'What is organic and what is artificially simulated' forms the heart the book.

'A narrative. A story. It is this...more than anything, a government must have if it is going to succeed. A story. A narrative to inspire supporters and enthuse the electorate.'

'Madeleine's eyes that had been styilised into media emblems...It had been a controversial decision to go big on the defect in Madeleine's eye and make this her distinguishing mark, the one certain way of identifying her. Because what follows from that, if the kidnapper wants to disguise the fact that the girl with him is the girl in question? Answer: damage the eye in some way...'Certainly we thought it was possible...But in terms of marketing it was a good ploy.''

Burn is a very good writer and one that makes you think about the society in which you live. The themes explored in the book are themes Burn has explored before but here they are brought to their obvious conclusion.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answering the age-old question, What is truth? 28 July 2009
Gordon Burn's final book Born Yesterday (he died in July 2009), is about as good a tribute to its author as you could get. It is a strange book, for at first glance it does not appear to be fiction at all, more like a rolling news review of 2007. Burn covers many of the major news events of the year, including the abduction of Madeleine McCann, terror attacks at Glasgow airport, Gordon Brown's succession from Tony Blair, the catastrophic flooding that affected great areas of the country. All these stories are interleaved throughout the book, but as you read them you realise that this is not journalism at all.

After the first couple of chapters, you realise that Burn is creating something new by looking at the connections between all the stories and the way they all interact with each other. Before long, the reader gets drawn into the conflation of real-life news events and sees that there really is a bigger picture, that in fact much of this so called "news" only really exists because of and through the media. Age-old stories are being told and re-created, and new myths are called into being but how much to they rely on "facts" and how much does the story exist because of itself.

Burn discovers linking themes in the news (the way the media created a picture of Kate McCann as a cold, unfeeling woman, somehow devoid of normal emotions, almost an "android". The focus on eyes in a sort of mythical way (Gordon Brown's loss of an eye, Madeleine McCann unusual "flaw" in her iris), the homo-erotic side of Blair's government.

By the end of the book, I was reminded (as I need to be reminded again and again) that the media creates the news. Or rather it takes a news item and turns it into a story, just as much a work of fiction as any novel.
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