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Ingenious pain Unknown Binding – 1996

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: University of Lancaster (1996)
  • ASIN: B001ONBS9Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Andrew Miller was born in Bristol in 1960. He has lived in Spain, Japan, Ireland and France, and currently lives in Somerset. His first novel, INGENIOUS PAIN, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour prize in Italy. He has since written five novels: CASANOVA, OXYGEN, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Booker Prize in 2001, THE OPTIMISTS, ONE MORNING LIKE A BIRD, and PURE, which won the Costa Book of the Year award in 2011. His new novel, THE CROSSING, will be published in August 2015.

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On a hot, cloud-hemmed afternoon in August, three men cross a stable yard near the village of Cow in Devon. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Every detail was fresh with insight into the human condition. Suffering (both physical and mental), love, ambition, death - all were addressed with freshness, warmth and compassion. Even now, eight months after reading the book, I feel as if I have a film of the book's events running through my thoughts. Every detail had meaning. Every plot turn was the natural result of the character's personalities, flaws and desires. Nothing felt contrived. Amazing.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book was an absolute page turner for me. A friend reflects back over the strange life of a man from early age to adult surgeon. The man in question, after several adventures becomes one of the most sought after surgeons in the whole of europe, only one thing...he cannot feel any emotions or physical pain. And this of course creates problems. Towards the end of the book there is a great climax of events and then ends as it began. (Nice closure!) Set circa 17-18th century ? (sorry dates were never my forte) when a good bleeding was a cure for what ails you and much experimentation was going on . The scenes are graphic, incredibly beautiful, sometimes mystical.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Oct. 2003
Format: Hardcover
This first time author so skilled and so committed to his subject that he has been able to reject all the conventions of novel writing and still get his surprising book published--receiving rave reviews on two continents in the process!
Miller sets the book in the eighteenth century and begins with a graphic autopsy of the main character. Here he recreates the philosophical and scientific attitudes of the period, attitudes which are alien to our own, and which he will explore as a subtext throughout the book. He summarizes the life of the main character--which he spends the rest of the book recounting--in the first chapter, eliminating any climactic excitement he might have created. His main character is a man with the inability to feel pain, someone with whom the reader cannot possibly identify, and his adventures are weirdly melodramatic, so unusual the reader's interest lies primarily in their curiosity.
Yet the book "works," and very often thrills. Somehow he does manage to make the reader care about James Dyer and his fate, and he does create excitement in a plot which skips from small town England to the court of Russia. Miller's masterful and controlled use of description is a primary factor in his ability to further the action of this unusual story and bring the characters and the period alive. This reader was awestruck by Miller's creative daring--and by his success. Mary Whipple
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Many books are described as 'poetic' and 'lyrical', but few are as deserving of the adjectives as this. The relentless use of the first person carries the reader along as though on a wave, and few writers display such an understanding of the power of the English language. Quite simply one of the best books I've read in years, truly 'haunting' (another overused, but apt adjective) and genuinely moving with scenes you'll be thinking back on many months later. And it's Miller's first novel! A great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. R. Richardson on 17 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a book that I'm puzzled isn't more well-known. It seems to have garnered good reviews when it first came out in the late nineties, but I'd never heard of it before. The novel is about a man who cannot physically feel pain in the mid-seventeenth century. He goes through life not quite living because while he cannot feel pain, he cannot feel pleasure, either. James Dyer is therefore cold and calculating, and becomes a celebrity surgeon because he has no qualms about cutting human flesh. He does not forge friendships, and he's essentially a cold-hearted bastard.

It's excellently written, with good pacing and an intricate plot. Lots of little things about the time period I enjoy are in here--wandering about the countryside and scamming the public, scandal, a crazy wealthy man who insists on collecting oddities, both objects and people. It's one of the best books I've read this year. The quote on the cover by The Times hits it on the nose when it states, "Astoundingly good . . . it shines like a becon among the grey dross of much contemporary fiction."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Didier on 26 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
A doctor that is uncapable of feeling physical pain, now there's an original starting point for a novel! Set in the 18th century but timeless in its study of human behaviour, and written in a most beautiful style. Insightful, engrossing, captivating, ... you name it, this book has it all.
I've lost count of the number of people I've recommended this to, and most of them still thank me for it ;-) Allow yourselves a treat, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 April 1999
Format: Paperback
Andrew Miller's novel is comparable to Patrick Suskind's "Perfume" in that it narrates the fortunes of a character whose sensory peculiarities set him apart from the rest of humanity. It is the story of a man who cannot feel pain. The prose is simple but beautiful and very moving, and the 18th-century setting (a time when satisfactory methods of anaesthesia had yet to be developed) raises questions of how much faith should be put in the science of medicine and to what extent suffering is necessary in making us human. We have much sympathy with James Dyer as he grows up being treated as a freak, but while he grows to become a greater surgeon for his lack of squeamishness, does his absence of compassion also make him a lesser man?
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