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Little Green Man [Paperback]

Simon Armitage
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 2002
A funny, touching, sometimes alarming account of male friendship and the rivalries that drive men apart. Separated from his wife, Barney reunites his childhood friends for a game of dare - at stake, a jade statuette worth [pound]750,000 according to Barney. As the game goes on, weaknesses are exposed and childhood traumas relived. Suspenseful, gripping and intelligently crafted, Little Green Man explores the darker side of men and their relationships. 'Sensitive not sentimental...real humour, horror, tension and tenderness' Mirror

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: 19 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 575,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Playful Poet and the Nonreliable Narrator 5 Feb 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 20 Sep 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly, lacking warmth 2 Oct 2002
The other reviews here are very fair. It is nicely plotted and full of sharp observation and delightful images, but ultimately the hollow at the heart of the main characters leaves you feeling pretty bleak. This isn't per se bad, but I guess "All Points North" had such warmth that I was hoping for more of the same. You won't find it here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars seventies memories 6 Aug 2002
By A Customer
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Idea, until the end 2 Nov 2001
I got really engrossed in this story. It had good characters and I enjoyed the clever way that the past was used as a lever to send a bunch of 30 somethings into an anarchic series of dares. I suspected where it was going but was bitterly dissapointed by the ending. it really feels as if he was given 2 hours to come up with and ending and did so, shame because it was building up to be one of the best reads of the year. Worth a read but it just fails to live up to it's promise, which could be levelled at a lot of similar books out this year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel by a poet
A novel by a poet - Simon Armitage is a great writer and this novel is full of humour and insight into the weirdness of human behaviour. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Webb
5.0 out of 5 stars Man-up
Increasingly widely known as one of England's finest poets, Simon Armitage has also had a selection of prose texts published, from the semi-autobiographical (Gig: The Life and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
5.0 out of 5 stars Marry me Simon!!!
This book was fantastic. The best book I've read this year. Armitage may have said his prose wouldn't be poetic. Read more
Published on 28 Dec 2007 by G. Saunders
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendships at a cost
An interesting book which I wasn't sure about from the start as I thought it may have been more of a 'boy's' book. However I quickly got into it. Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2007 by SJSmith
4.0 out of 5 stars Zoom, zoom
The prize-winning poet of the north, Simon Armitage has written a truly intelligent gem in 'Little Green Man'. Read more
Published on 20 July 2006 by MadamJMo
5.0 out of 5 stars Grim Oop North
Funny and caring at times, yet dark and gritty at the same time. Armitage proves to be just as talented with prose as he does with his poetry, as the first chapter in which Barney... Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2006 by Hunchback
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favourites..
I was a little disappointed the first time I read this with the ending. If I'm honest it left me feeling depressed. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2005 by Mark A. English
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing but worth the read!
I finished this book last night, and was a little disappointed with the end, however it is definatly worth the read. Read more
Published on 24 July 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars All Points Back
I read this book in quick succession with Nick Hornby's About a Boy - which surpassed my expectations - and this, it has to be said, is not as satisfying - but we're comparing... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2002 by John Self
4.0 out of 5 stars Another foray into the mysteries of the male psyche!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book---the style is brilliant, and the plot engrossing, with a conclusion of unexpected piognancy. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2002
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