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Little Green Man Paperback – 4 Jul 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140297774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140297775
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Little Green Man, Simon Armitage's first novel, draws on the author's gritty Yorkshire upbringing to produce a vivid story of childhood nostalgia and adult disillusionment. Armitage's protagonist is the feckless Barney, thirtysomething, divorced, and alienated from his autistic son. His only passion are his mates, "the old friends, the ones you were brought up with, who go further back than you remember, who've been there since the beginning. You didn't choose them--they're like family. Like blood." When Barney unearths what turns out to be a priceless relic from his childhood days--the "little green man" of the novel's title--he gets back in touch with his old gang: Winkie, Pompus, Stubbs and Tony Football. Desperate to "turn back the clock" and relive their childhood escapades, Barney proposes a game of truth or dare. Each member of the gang "dares" another. Failure to complete a dare leads to disqualification. The winner walks away with the priceless little green man. As the stakes get higher, friendships begin to dissolve as hairy women are seduced, sheep are slaughtered and excrement eaten. In the process the gang reveal some of their deepest secrets, from abuse to impotence, and as the game begins to get out of hand, Barney himself has to confront the responsibilities of adulthood. The problem is that the novel's brutally frank portrayal of both Barney and his gang is so convincing that it becomes difficult to feel any sympathy for anyone. Little Green Man is a tough, uncompromising debut novel, but many fans of Armitage may feel it lacks the originality of his highly acclaimed poetry. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Sensitive not sentimental... real humour, horror, tension and tenderness' Mirror --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hilary Jane on 5 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
It was bad news for admirers of Armitage's poetry when he broke the news that he wasn't going to be writing a poetic first novel. Even more distressing, for women at any rate, was when we discovered that we're not talking about just the one little green man here, but a full cast of immature, sour and downright decaying male characters. And the cover picture is a blatant hazard warning of embarrassing nineteen seventies childhood nostalgia ahead. How could that nice Simon Armitage do this to us?
I'd say give it a go. The novel opens with an exquisitely atmospheric prologue, worth the cover price alone for any poetry fan, before we come down from the attic straight into prosy blokeland. Armitage then quickly starts to draw his audience into a risky game of his own to parallel that in the plot.
The man telling the story, Barney, seems like a nice enough guy, thirty-odd, Northern, a bit like Armitage himself really. Ha. One by one, our assumptions about Barney are deftly slid from under our feet. Maybe he's not quite so nice after all, his laddishness more destructive than charming. Maybe his ex-wife can give us more insight in a casual remark than Barney can muster in a whole book. (And maybe we would be wise not to take Barney's word for it on her iciness . . .) But then, maybe he's had a harder time of it than we first realised. Maybe he's starting to learn from his mistakes and grow up at last. It's when we find out that the git hasn't only been lying to his mates, he's been lying to us too, and yet we're still hoping for his redemption, that we grasp the subtlety of Armitage's achievement.
I could still have done with a bit less of the spangles and curly wurlies though . . .
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gary VINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about childhood and memory -- about the loneliness and meaninglessness of life and the solace we seek in memory. The main character devises a way of reuniting his childhood friends and getting them to take part in a series of ever-scarier dares. The prize is a valuable jade model -- the little green man.
That's all there is to the plot really, and the dares aren't hugely interesting. The interest lies not in the plot but in the life, or rather non-life, of the empty and unendearing central character. It's made the more interesting, when one realises that he is not unusual: he is you and me.
It's about emptiness and anomie -- and one's search for meaning, as an adult, both in memory and in material things. It's about the fragility of relationships and feeling like an alien in one's own land. Behind the trinkets and bangles we console ourselves with -- a motorbike, drink, money, the sun -- underneath there's not much else: only disappointment. Every character's life is squalid and meaningless -- yet they are ordinary people. Neither can solace be gained from the ostensibly big things, like parenthood or friendship: in the end they are all empty. The central character's parenting of his autistic son is an extended metaphor for the routine, ritual futility of parenthood, and of life.
It's immaculately well written -- direct, uncliched and with a voice authentic to the central character. It's a touch derivative in concept and in style, though -- Dennis Potter in Blue Remembered Hills meets Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch. Having said that, it has neither the verve of Potter nor the belly laughs of Hornby (though there are some smiles). But In a market where rubbish is routinely hyped, this is an outstanding book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Aug. 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was expecting great things and was not disappointed for much of the book. In the Lord of the Flies arena I thought to begin with - how far will boys go..
There are some sublime moments - the football streak amused me. The writing is crafted and immensely readable but I felt that the author took on too much and therefore couldn't do justice to the autism and divorce storyline (in particular). I felt he could have drawn more parallels between the behaviour of Travis and the other boys in the narrative for example. I read this book voraciously but then got stuck at the end and it took me several attempts to actually finish it. Like many other reviewers I felt the ending was a big anti climax. All that pace just seemed to fizzle out. I'd love to hear what the author feels about this!I bet it gets made into a film though!
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By A Customer on 14 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can't help feeling that Mister Armitage got a v rough deal with regards to this book. The reviews were very harsh. My favourite magazine, Private Eye, gave a completely uncalled for slating of this novel.
I think the problem is that Mister Armitage's postry set a standard. Because when you write poetry as outstanding as that, anything less will simply not be good enough for people any more. Simon Armitage IS a poet. he says it in every interview, every article, i've been a few inches away from him when i've seen him say it in person. poetry is his craft. and i think it should be aplauded that he is "trying on hats", because all the time he does so, he reminds us again and again - he's not left poetry, he never wants to leave poetry, he will always be a poet.
the book was great. y'know some books you don't REALLY enjoy but you feel obliged to read anyway? this was NOT one of them. reading this was complete indulgence. gripping, in places humourous, sometimes touching, sometimes just SAD and aching, this was a great book. not a single sentence was clumsy, not a single sentence did you read and think "could have been done better...". he brought his craft of poetry into this novel, and you see his incredible manipulation of the english language crop up regularly in sentences, and they work wonderfully to slow the pace of the whole thing down.
This novel is better than anything most current or aspiring novelists could even dream of producing. but, unfortunately, it is just not as GLOWING as mister armitage's poetry, and i think he will never escape this comparison being drawn. as a fan of his, i would say this was not half as good as his poems. and yet it was stunning.
what does that tell you about his poetry?
i certainly recommend this book, though
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