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Deadkidsongs Paperback – 4 Oct 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New edition edition (4 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140285784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140285789
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 632,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Toby Litt was born in Bedford and grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He has worked as a teacher, bookseller and subtitler.

A graduate of Malcolm Bradbury's Creative Writing M.A. at the University of East Anglia, Toby is best-known for writing his books - from Adventures in Capitalism to (so far) King Death - in alphabetical order; he is currently working on L.

Toby edited Henry James's last novel The Outcry for Penguin Modern Classics. He was also the co-editor, with Ali Smith, of the British Council/Picador New Writing 13 anthology.

He is a Granta Best of Young British Novelist and a regular on Radio 3's The Verb. His story 'John and John' won the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize.


Product Description

Amazon Review

With his novels Corpsing and Beatniks, young Brit Lit gunslinger Toby Litt showed he had mastered the essentials of the trendy bestseller. With this poignant, odd, confusing, moving, heartfelt, troubling book he's tried to do an even trickier thing: extend his range and readership upmarket.

The tenor of deadkidsongs is Just William meets Lord of the Flies with a nod to the latter-day works of Nick Hornby, which gives you some idea of what a different-but interesting-book it is. The story concerns four pre-pubescent boys, all members of a gang called Gang, growing up in darkest Devon in the 70s. Against a background of Cold War rumours and Last War memories they play their conkers and cowboys an' injuns, their war and show-us-yer-willy games. Then their clumsy and wistfully innocent Arcadia is overturned when one of them dies; from there the narrative unravels until the reader is not sure who is telling what to whom, nor quite how reliable the teller might be.

To recapture a lost childhood is ambitious enough; Litt's aim is to do that and then some: he wants to say profound things about masculinity, nostalgia, violence and nationhood. Whether he succeeds or not is moot; anyone sincerely interested in the modern British novel will want to read this to decide for themselves. --Sean Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Toby Litt has taken us back into the secret and brutal lair of childhood... wickedly, wittily scary' Observer

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When we looked upwards we saw beneath us a sky of rosebushes, gravel paths, equipment and thick, healthy, but slightly too-dry grass. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Martin Whitehead on 30 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Boys games of soldiers turn nasty, very nasty, after the death of one of Gang. Told in the voices of the 4 members, the narrative of Deadkidsongs rushes you through the retaliation taken out on the adults who Gang blame for the death. I had to read parts of the meningitis chapter twice just to take in the shock of what was happening to one of the story's 4 characters. Reading this on the train quite literally left me short of breath and palpatating! Toby Litt posesses an imagination that most of us can only race to keep us with. Absolutely brilliant stuff and the best, and most disturbing, read I've had in years. The end does make sense if you take time to figure it out...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
...But it does contain discrepancies.
That, I believe, is the point.
This is a very clever book indeed. I'm sure you know that it is about young boys and the violence that these "monsters" (it's OK, I can say that, I used to be one) get up to, either for real or in their minds.
Litt's character development is so convincing, that by about half way through, you are terrified what one particular boy may do every time he appears on the page.
But where this book is particularly clever is the way the writer confuses you with the narration. Who is narrating this bit? Isn't that slightly different from the way that was described over there? Who was narrating that bit anyway?
You'll keep thinking about the end and what really happened for months after finishing it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mrsbabushka on 12 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was completely gripping when I read it just after it came out. However looking over my bookcase recently I remembered that at the time I had found it deeply confusing towards the end and endeavoured to read it again assuming that may be the fact I was 17 first time round had been the source of my confusion! However, though like the first time I thought the main body of the text beautifully captured the violence and cruelty inherent in friendships at that age, I still think that Litt lets himself down by the somewhat bizarre conclusion, which I think will more annoy me for months than fascinate, all in all though a good book, for those who aren't easily annoyed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cartimand TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
The reader is warned in the preamble that two of the chief protagonists will be dead by the conclusion, but this in no way spoils the tension in Litt's minor masterpiece. Litt cleverly taps into the egotistical psyche of the bully as well as the subservient and machiavellian interests that comprise the timebomb that is "Gang". The draconian rules invented by the members of Gang reflect a strict hierachy and exaggerated sense of honour and discipline, influenced by the military. In a fantasy world, where each Gang member yearns to die a hero in defence of mother England, grown-ups are perceived as the enemy. The one exception being Andrew's dad - the "best father", whose appalling abusive behaviour is glorified by the boys. Ringing faint echoes of "Lord of the Flies", the unsettling sense of impending doom in Deadkidsongs builds in a most compelling manner until the bloody conclusion. Whilst more than half expected, the pay-off is in no way diminished and is suitably satisfying and shocking. A few moments of gawky adolescent humour thankfully intersperse the mostly grim and cruel prose. The frequent switching of narrator generally worked well although, on occasion, produced a slightly frustrating lack of momentum.
A very powerful and memorable book, which I recommend to everyone, except those easily upset.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Having recently read Corpsing, I was eager to read this book. You are never sure what to expect, whilst I found this book a little slow compared to Corpsing, you are compelled to read that little further before putting the book down. Interesting chapter on the death of a memember of Gang (not The Gang, you understand). Whilst towards the end, you were constantly referring to previous chapters. The scary thing, is that this could have been almost any of us, it is just that this Gang, went beyond the realms of the real world. Well written, Litt gets beneath the motives behind young people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 April 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one hell of a book, filled with nostalgia and unnerving metaphoric content. As a male born and bred in the countryside this novel held particular poigniance, as it described personal past experiences almost to the letter, and then twisted them to dark and brutally funny occurances. It has schizophrenic qualities that can only improve the overall effect of the novel to the extent of proving that Litt is perhaps one of the freshest authors to hit the black comedy genre. It should be made clear, however, that this book is not for the weak-stomached readers because, as the Bullet chapters in Corpsing (another extremely cynical book by Litt), it is graphic, but if, like me, you enjoy reflecting on the bizaare actions of others you will love this. He is at least inventive with it (ten fingers: ten orifaces) unlike many who just wish to shock. All in all, an imense book that is a must for all fans of sardonism, and for those who can remember playing in the nearby forests.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrsbabushka on 12 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was completely gripping when I read it just after it came out. However looking over my bookcase recently I remembered that at the time I had found it deeply confusing towards the end and endeavoured to read it again assuming that may be the fact I was 17 first time round had been the source of my confusion! However, though like the first time I thought the main body of the text beautifully captured the violence and cruelty inherent in friendships at that age, I still think that Litt lets himself down by the somewhat bizarre conclusion, which I think will more annoy me for months than fascinate, all in all though a good book, for those you aren't easily annoyed!
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