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Laikonik Express [Paperback]

Nick Sweeney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 12.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2011
Nolan Kennedy is a young American teaching English in Istanbul and hanging out with his alcoholic friend Don Darius. Don might also be the greatest living American novelist judging by the script Kennedy finds in Don's trash. But Don has left town and Kennedy had better find him and persuade him to get serious about the book before Don decides to get serious about the vodka. The catalyst Don thinks will help is finding the woman he met on the LAIKONIK EXPRESS. Kennedy and Don embark on a journey to find her in back-of-beyond Central Europe but en route find much more than a mysterious woman.

Product details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Unthank (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956422322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956422323
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,480,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

LAIKONIK EXPRESS is about a trio of life's joys, namely: the road trip, (or more strictly train trip); the mystery of unlikely friendship; and the powerful experience of true connection with strangers from a strange culture. Wise and uplifting, LAIKONIK EXPRESS is a central European "Sideways" with vodka not wine.

From the Back Cover

`Nick Sweeney's LAIKONIK EXPRESS is one of those rare things: a debut novel that is both original and immediately recognisable as a work of true voice.'
Lee Rourke (author of THE CANAL)

'Nick Sweeney is a special writer; erudite and cosmopolitan, simultaneously clever yet warm, droll yet melancholy. Laikonik Express has a range of references and obsessions that are much broader and more intriguing than those found in most contemporary novels. It is a meditative comedy, and also a great read'
Geoff Nicholson

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: Nick Sweeney's Laikonik Express 18 May 2011
Nick Sweeney's novel is full of resonances and echoes: Sal Paradise buddy talk here, Joycean close consciousness and wordplay there. Read too fast and you'll miss them. Laikonik Express's settings, its cross-country train journeys and looping metropolitan walks, have the flavour of these influences. It's a novel of streets, bars, carriages, churches and encounters between strangers, in which the actions of the leading characters are frequently punctuated by the hospitality or indifference of local citizens and passers-by.

The voice is characterised by the persistence of wry humour and rubber-stamp one-liners, and after a while the reader learns to anticipate and relish these. For instance,

".....Don had dragged him all that way through the snow on the train to be right there and right then in that deep-frozen Ben-and-Jerry town..."
"But Don was out there already. He cut a momentary man-with plan shape in the swirl of the snow, and then it closed over..."

This tone, rueful and amused, hopeful yet a little careworn, manifests it's presence throughout. For the reader, a sense of being confided, of being poked in the ribs and wisecracked to, accumulates. It's a stylised, rock and roll diction, and when it works well it makes Laikonik Express a performance.

The story, of Don and Kennedy crossing Poland after a girl, whilst Kennedy tries to convince Don to take himself seriously as a writer, touches on different things: a mid thirties milieu of whittled down opportunities, the homesick restlessness of reluctant globetrotters, the wariness of the Polish towards Poland's place at the forefront of post USSR capitalism; Nick Sweeney touches on a smorgasbord of preoccupations.

Emotionally, it's a novel that's by turns sentimental, wistful, optimistic and humanistic. It celebrates friendship; its possibilities and its responsibilities, and in that sense Laikonik Express reminds me of Ghostbusters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Trans-European rail "On The Road". 1 Feb 2012
I loved this book; a novel of friendship, love and loss, history and loss, literature and loss...
An American, known throughout by his surname - Kennedy - living and teaching in Istanbul, takes the eponymous train across Europe to Poland, in search of fellow American, his buddy Don; in search too, of clarification as to the novel manuscript Don has abandoned in Istanbul. Can Kennedy persuade Don it's the masterpiece Kennedy believes it to be?
No sooner settling to sleep in Don's Warsaw apartment, Kennedy is dragged back onto the train to head across Poland in search of a girl Don had fallen for on an earlier train journey.
They find themselves in Abel, a small summer resort - in the middle of winter - where they eventually find the girl. They also find Jacek, a friendly English-teaching Pole, and, crucially, his mother, the beautiful, intriguing, and dying, Krystyna.
It becomes her book, in two ways: firstly, by her character, her experiences in pre-and post-War Poland (Don's family too had lived and suffered in war-torn Poland) and later work as a scientist in America, and her insouciant courage in facing her death; secondly because it is she who convinces Kennedy that only he, as an outsider, can write Don's latest story, of the forlorn trip to Abel.
It ends with heart-wrenching adjustments of perspective for both Don and Kennedy, perspectives on love, life, history and loss.
But it is wonderfully funny getting there. The jokes crackle through the prose, but are there for a purpose - to delineate the character of the relationship between the buddies, Kennedy and Don. But they still add immeasurably to the reader's pleasure in a sparkling and understatedly moving novel.
I'm so glad someone had the nous to publish this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kerouac rides the rails 15 May 2011
The road trip at the centre of 'Lakonik Express' is mostly by rail but don't let that little detail get in the way of your intense enjoyment of this gem of a novel. From the opening sequence to the final chapter the ghost of Kerouac at his best nudges your appreciation of the many vividly realised vignettes linked loosely by a slightly surreal chase narrative. The characters are marvellous (especially the strongly drawn women). The many profound observations are balanced by as many that are whimsical and there is an overarching wit that refuses to take the story too seriously. This is the sort of book that tends to acquire cult status but for the author's sake I hope it will achieve immediate recognition and encourage further publication of Sweeney's work.
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