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Cham [Paperback]

Jonathan Trigell
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 Oct 2007
Long-dead Lord Byron started it. The rock star of his age. But a poet with about as much relevance to the blood grudge struggle that marks modern life for most of humanity, as he has to the practice of sliding down snowy slopes on planks of wood. And yet, it was thanks to Byron that Itchy ended up living in Chamonix Mont Blanc, the death-sport capital of the world, among the high mountains and low morals. In the intervening years he has tried hard with alcohol and adrenaline to numb a past he can't atone for. Now a serial rapist is stalking Cham's tourist-thronged streets, haunting the same shadows as Itchy and triggering an obsession which will lead him far from Europe's zenith, to the depths of the valley and himself. The promise of Jonathan Trigell?s first novel, Boy A, is fully realised in this evocation of the world of extreme sports, where the reckless violence of a callow man?s life comes back to haunt him.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (11 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852429585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852429584
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 13.1 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,013,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Trigell was born in Hertfordshire in 1974. In 2002 he took an MA in creative writing at Manchester University; Boy A, his first novel, was his thesis for that course.

Boy A won the Waverton Award for best first novel of 2004; the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, for best book in the commonwealth by an author under 35; the Italian Edoardo Kihlgren Prize, for a translated novel; and the inaugural World Book Day Prize, for the most discussion worthy novel by a living writer.

Boy A was turned into a film by Cuba Pictures, The Weinstein Co. and Film 4; directed by John Crowley and starring Andrew Garfield and Peter Mullan. It won a total of four Bafta Awards in 2008; the Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival and the Jury and Public Prizes at the Dinard Film Festival.

Jonathan's second novel, Cham, was shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize and is set in the death sport capital of the world - Chamonix Mont Blanc in France - where the author himself now lives, pursuing his passion for the mountains.

Product Description


Jonathan Trigell's writing soars when describing the sublime mountain scenery and the rushing, redemptive exhilaration of skiing... But he's equally at ease conveying the murky moral ambiguity of Itchy's life... Exposing the darkness at the heart of a white world, Trigell's second novel is tense with foreboding: a clever, contemporary cliff hanger (Metro)

Does for extreme winter sports what Alex Garland's The Beach did for backpacking (Financial Times)

The walking, stalking spirit of Chamonix: forever chasing the beautiful adrenaline rush, but also driven by a dark force (Guardian)

Impressive tale of a wayward young man looking for redemption in the shadow of Mont Blanc (Daily Mirror)

There's a chilling edge to this tale of skiing, sex and partying (Independent)

At the other end of the spectrum are those writers who have literary ideals but - almost in an act of defiance against some of their peers - still manage to entertain their readers with a story. For some reason many of the best of these - Emily Bronte, Leo Tolstoy and so on - are long gone. There are contemporary writers, however, following in their footsteps... Jonathan Trigell is one of these writers. Cham, his second novel, is serious but never worthy (Sydney Morning Herald)

Cham is being likened to Alex Garland's The Beach. It explores another youth-oriented sub-culture - think skis and snowboards rather than backpacks - and the writing has a similar crafted intensity. Sharp metaphors are cut into its pages (Independent)

A murky, romantic look at the underbelly of season life (Daily Mail Ski & Snowboard Magazine)

About the Author

Jonathan Trigell was born in 1974 and has lived in Hertfordshire, Manchester, Derby and Stone. In 2002 he completed an MA in creative writing at Manchester University.

He has been a TV extra, an outdoor pursuits instructor and a door to door salesman; plus has worked right across the winter sports industry, from mopping floors and washing dishes to journalism and organising major events.

His first novel, Boy A, won the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best work by an author under 35, and also the Waverton Award, for best first novel of 2004.

Jonathan now lives in Chamonix, where he is writing his third novel, Genesis.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good thriller for skiers and non skiers alike 16 Nov 2007
If you have ever had the good fortune to holiday in Chamonix, this book is part thriller, part reminisce about the time you spent there. However read with no prior knowledge of the place, this book would still not disappoint. The landscape and environment are beautifully described, whilst at the same time revealing the dark underbelly of the seasonnaire's life. The main character Itchy isn't immediately likeable (if at all in the whole novel) but is compelling, forcing you to continue to the end to find out what happens. This novel also makes good use of romantic prose to show the similarities between the past and the present. An incredibly mature and exciting read - I finished it in one night. It does make you feel uncomfortable in places though as it reveals a variety of moral stances. Don't let this put you off.. Off to read his first novel, Boy A now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An onion of a book with a lot to say 19 Mar 2012
By R. A. Davison TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
After having read and LOVED both Genus and Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, I felt I needed to complete the trio by reading his second novel Cham. I was really nervous of reading Cham, because I had loved both the others and didn't want to feel disappointment, and also because it has had some very critical reviews on Amazon.

At first hand Cham is a novel about Itchy, who works seasonally at French ski resort Chamonix, the location where Jonathan Trigell himself happens to live. In the holiday town, which has a certain cache of cool, tourists come and go, whilst those who work the season stay.

But in this town, a place of thrills and enjoyment, a rapist stalks the international revellers, who is he, and who should be scared?

It would be a mistake to think that this novel is either about Chamonix, or skiing, though both appear in part as background, so if you go to Chamonix and love it or if you're going to Chamonix and are looking for a touristy book, this is not that book. With that, I'm not saying that you shouldn't read Cham, you should, you should just adjust your expectations of it.

This novel is about Itchy and the psychology of Itchy, who himself is running scared from his past. A fan of Byron and Shelley who popularised Chamonix in their era, Itchy is an interesting study. He comes across as a disgusting person, an advantage taking egotist and this opinion of him increases in the reader the more you learn. The lifestyle he lives at Chamonix is very much like that of 'a lad in university', all drunkenness, and pleasure and shagging about.

If this was the sum of the novels parts it might be a fair assessment to call it shallow, but it's not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Recently moved to Cham and was recommended the book shortly after. I have to say it truly captures Chamonix's feel and presence with a startling accuracy. Whether you have visited Cham or not, if you play in powder you know these people, from the outset you are in the front room with powder junkies and your about to take a snort of the bad stuff. A graphic thriller on a mountain top, It's a must for a snow hound in need of a read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beach but with snow sports. 29 Jan 2008
I really loved this book. I first bought it because I read a review somewhere that said it was like the novel The Beach, only set in a ski resort. Actually if anything it is much better than The Beach, but it has a similar sort of darkness at it's heart. People thinking they are leaving normal life and it's problems behind, only to find they can't. I've never been to Chamonix, or skiing or snowboarding, but I feel like I know that world after reading Cham. Its a good gripping read, but there's a lot of hidden depths as well, like the crevices in the glaciers...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Read 12 Jan 2011
By Bert
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Do not be misled - this book is not about Chamonix, those who read it to hear more about their much loved Chamonix will be disappointed!
It is about the life of the seasonnaire, and those who have 'done a season' will love it! If you have never doe a season, then I'm not sure you would really understand the book at all.
The book is a little padded, and I totally skipped some chapters, but the story itself was a thrill to read. Thanks Mr Trigell. It was nice to be understood as a seasonnaire!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cham 1 May 2012
By Tiens
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jonathan Trigell certainly knows how to combine aspects of everyday life in the French Alps for the '25 year old ski-bum' and then he puts it into his outstanding writing style, alongside the absorbing and realistic plot line. His understanding of the lifestyle of the characters is clearly demonstrated and culminates in the realities of life that they face as the ski season progresses.

Absolutely riveting reading.. more please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read eh? 19 Feb 2012
By Kevan S
Format:Kindle Edition
I enjoyed getting into this book very much.
Descriptions of the mountain and powder very descriptive and make you want to be there.
Can't wait to read more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars River deep, mountain high 6 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The main character (who goes by the fabulous name of Itchy!) guides us through some turbulent snow-covered mountain terrain, crevasses and smooth stretches, as in life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book if you get past the detritus
An enjoyable read which has clearly come from someone who has been touched by the mountains. Good story line with some interesting plots twist and an unexpected ending. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Josephine Barrett
3.0 out of 5 stars Tried to read this and didn't succeed
I will come back to this, it didn't float my boat or skis. I found it hard to concentrate on the book and this may be the one time I wish I was reading a paper back version.
Published 17 months ago by FortyNine and Seven Eighths
1.0 out of 5 stars Cham
Personally I thought this was rubbish and I gave up less than half way through it, turgid I think describes it
Published on 21 April 2012 by N. Crane
1.0 out of 5 stars long winded
Well this was not my kind of thing at all. I found it extremely long winded. And the added classical passages..... what was all that about. I found it very slow going. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by dale marshall
1.0 out of 5 stars Verbiage..
Complete and utter drivel. Appears to have been written in the knowledge that the title alone would sell the book. Read more
Published on 27 Feb 2012 by NM
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much padding and not a lot of story
Chamonix is a wonderful place and it's clearly left an impression on the author. I commend his efforts at writing a novel which is based in what is a mecca for extreme alpinism and... Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2010 by G. R. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars A UNIQUE CLASSIC
How often do you find two incompatible worlds collide in one? Psychopathy and mountains - that's what you'll find in CHAM. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2010 by Citi
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