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Filthy English [Paperback]

Jonathan Meades
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
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Book Description

5 May 2003

These short stories mark the start of a brilliant and black literary career.

A dog who stars in bestial pornographic movies describes the slippery slope towards aniseed addiction in 'Fur and Skin'. 'The Sylvan Life' is a story of rustling, hallucinogenic mushrooms and incest as they proliferate in the New Forest. In 'Spring and Fall' a rich and childless woman offers a sybaritic young boy a clandestine family life which becomes his downfall. The most extraordinary circumstances combine to provide the perfect alibi for a homosexual 'crime passionnel' in 'Oh So Bent', 'The Brute's Price' demonstrates the inadvertent steps an innocent man may take in bringing himself under suspicion of heinous murders on Portland. An injection of the criminal element into the pretensions of suburban Surrey provides the squalid drama of 'Rhododendron Gulch'. In the title story a relentlessly pedantic urge of a lexicographer to discover why his surname is a slang word for 'foot' leads him to a nightmarish revelation.

Jonathan Meades has a black imagination. Not content with disarming his readers an outrageous premise, he continues to tease their curiosity from one end of each story to the other. His is the kind of originality that comes along rarely, his characters the sort who lurk and linger round the back alleys of the mind.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (5 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000715643X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007156436
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'One of the funniest and truest writers we have. No one understands England better than Meades.'
Stephen Fry

• Praise for The Fowler Family Business

'Jonathan Coe meets Edgar Allen Poe.'

'By the end I was appalled by the extent of my own admiration for this nastily comic tale. This comedy is not so much black as draped in sackcloth and ashes.'
Bel Mooney, The Times

'Indecently funny. Few novels are as lively as this.'
Christopher Bray, Mail on Sunday

From the Back Cover

Bestial pornographic movies and aniseed addiction; hallucinogenic mushrooms and incest; a homosexual crime passionel. As you would expect from Jonathan Meades, his disturbing collection of short stories introduces us to characters who lurk and linger around the back alleys of the mind.

'A marvellously potent vision.'
Nicholas Shakespeare, 'The Times'

'Luminously tasteless'
Roger Lewis, 'Punch'

'Jonathan Meades' enticingly repellent stories are posh bovver – they reach into parts of society more sensitive black comedians might well retch away from.'
Valentine Cunningham, 'Observer'

'A hugely original imagination – it's also undeniably horrible.'
Robert Nye, 'Guardian'

'Real flair and captivating eccentricity.'
John Melmouth, 'TLS'

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Meadian Rare 5 Nov 2013
Jonathan Meades' "Filthy English" is a skilfully written collection of dark short stories. The obscure style is rather grating and may well have brought more pleasure to the writer than it does to the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The authors style is as per his excellent TV programmes, with many of his favourite locations visited again. However the stories that unfold describe other interesting aspect of life that may or may not be typically English.....
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too clever to be too clever by half? 16 Sep 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I wanted to enjoy this book because I enjoyed the series Meades presented on TV a few years ago, where he bent his coruscating wit to the deflation and/or praise of modern art and architecture. The wit is very much in evidence and the coruscation proceeds apace in this collection of short stories. However, there is an air in some of the stories of a show-off high on his principles as the English language in particular takes a fair old snobbish bashing. In other stories he gets the tone much closer to right and displays a wonderful range of skills and craft in fictional perspicacity.

He is brilliant at atmosphere, particularly good at settings in recent history (wartime, the 1950s and 60s) and good at delineating characters in a few words. With a few delightful phrases he can create images that burn in the mind or make a phrase that is worthy of his undoubted wit (`...truncated trunks in trunks...' to describe a set of suitcase murders, for instance).

Is he "Too clever to be too clever by half" - as one of his characters says of another? Perhaps, but he is also savagely funny - the narrative of an Alsatian dog in the world of porno films springs to mind.

I would like to read a novel by him, where the format need not be so crowded, and the storytelling has room to breathe. He is undoubtedly a brilliant man, but is he a brilliant writer? Maybe not on this showing, but he could be.
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