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Glister [Kindle Edition]

John Burnside
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description


"A novel that pierces the heart of evil... Consume it at night. Turn out the lights and watch the walls glow" (Scotsman)

"Baffling, haunting, terrifying, moving, and compulsively readable" (Daily Telegraph)

"In the end we are left with the resonance of a book whose centre is nowhere but whose circumference is extraordinarily large" (Financial Times)

"Nobody does eerie quite like John Burnside... exquisite and haunting..... the violence in Glister is shot through with an awful grace...As with all of Burnside's work - poetry, novels and memoir - there is a vision of something inexplicable at the heart of things. I doubt I will read a more unsettling and memorable book this year" (Scotland on Sunday)

"Darkly compelling murder mystery., the novel is also a densely layered engagement with questions of politics, spirituality, environmentalism and meta fiction. It is an incredible book; its echoes sound long after the end has been reached" (Big Issue)

"An intersection between horror story, morality tale, feigned memoir and ecological satire" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Tackles the question of what lies beyond with wit and subtlety" (Herald)

"The atmosphere of Glister is sustained by Burnside's distinctive and widely praised prose style, spare but ruminative, full of ideas and unusual formulations" (Irish Times)

"Burnside burns most brilliantly when he allows himself free rein to become a prophet of the natural sublime... The world of this chilling novel is steeped in a nature so finely drawn that it aches with its pulsing, crippled mortality" (Independent)

"Puts him in the class of Hardy and Lawrence" (The Times)

"The unrelenting evocation of toxicity is remarkable" (Guardian)

"a taut, mystical thriller and a thoughtful meditation on humanity" (Daily Telegraph)

"Burnside's story uses suggestion and ambiguity rather than explicit statement, but has the power that comes from leaving plenty of space in which the reader's imagination can go to work" (Sunday Times)

"remarkable, genre-defying...Glister is a remarkable book...a fusion of styles and genres, and it succeeds magnificently on those terms...powerfully imagines and beautifully written...A haunting tale, not as depressing as you might expect, and highly recommended" (

"Writing 'this dreamy melange of gritty urbanism with poetic crime puzzler, will appeal to the right reader very highly" (The Book Bag)

"A dark fable" (Sunday Herald)

"Burnside's writing conveys an almost palpable thrill of discovery, a delight in the play of his imagination over this bleak terrain, an irrepressible joy in cultivating metaphor after metaphor and seeing them all, improbably, bloom...The emotion this brilliant and disturbing novel leaves you with is like the spooked feeling Leonard experiences...It takes your breath away, but you don't know if that comes from awe or terror. The Glister" is that kind of story. It's terrifying, and it feels like a gift." (

"I'm a year late (quite punctual, for me) in recommending John Burnside's austerely poetic novel" (Guardian)


'The emotion this brilliant and disturbing novel leaves you with is like the spooked feeling Leonard experiences'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 351 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307455335
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (31 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00413PJ7Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,004 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

John Burnside has published seven works of fiction and eleven collections of poetry, including his Selected Poems, published by Cape in 2006. His memoir, A Lie About My Father, was published in the same year to enormous critical acclaim, and was chosen as the Scottish Arts Council Non-Fiction Book of the Year and the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post-Industrial Fantasy 29 Jun 2008
This is the first book I have read by John Burnside and was impressed.

The story is set in the bubble-like post-industrial 'Innertown' from which no one leaves and very few enter. Burnside writes beautifully and is a very good story teller. The descriptions of the disused chemical plant and the blackened country around it evoke a fantasy landscape of secret groves and mysterious (deformed) animals, with poison and darkness bubbling below the surface.

This poison below the surface is not only preavalent in the landscape, but is present within the characters and the story throughout. The violence and sex of a mostly apathetic youth are both casual and amoral, but nonetheless shocking in their effect.

Burnside seems to be writing to imply that we are all complicit in the casual human and environmental violence that we see around us, but do nothing about.

However, the final couple of chapters of the book don't sit too well with the rest of the story. Maybe I was missing something, but it appears that the message that Burnside was trying to get accross is lost in too much moral relativism and nihilism, with no real hope for change.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grim fairy tale 19 Jun 2008
In his novel Living Nowhere John Burnside managed to find great beauty in the new town of Corby (or perhaps more accurately he manage to write with great beauty). His ability to find wonder in the mundane made his tale of violence in an industrial town a fascinating read. His next setting was Coldhaven, a coastal landscape with history and legend, and with the same beautiful prose he created a modern folktale with violence again at its heart in The Devil's Footprints. With his latest novel Burnside has managed to combine the strongest elements from those two books and in doing so has created his most unsettling work since his debut The Dumb House.

We are in an industrial landscape once again and Innertown, ' nothing more than a ghetto for poisoned, cast-off workers', where an abandoned chemical plant is slowly decaying, is a landscape poisoned and dying . For its inhabitants 'the ghosts and ruffians of Innertown' it is a living hell; strange illnesses, aggressive cancers and rumours of mutant animals are just the beginning for those unfortunate enough to be close to the plant. Burnside creates an eerie atmosphere; this a place that nobody ever seems to leave, like a sinister version of The Truman Show. It has a fable like quality, the name Innertown (with the salubrious Outertown that surrounds it) the 'poisoned wood' where children dare not play and mysterious characters that hover around the edges. Layered on top of this is the terror that everyone is trying to ignore. For the last few years boys have been disappearing. The authorities claim that they have simply run away but no one knows for sure where they are or whether they are alive or not. Although that isn't strictly true.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hell. 10 July 2008
The main reason the novel succeeds is due to the setting. Burnside takes his time conveying the nightmarish angles of the chemical plant and the damned inhabitants of the nearby town. It casts such a huge shadow that it becomes more important than the narrative.

There is no clear ending to the story, it's whole world is probably a metaphor for something but I couldn't tell you what. In my eyes none of the characters are redeemed by the end of the story, so everyone stays in hell. But when hell is painted as vividly as this, I'm not about to complain.
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