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London Triptych Paperback – 19 Aug 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: MYRIAD EDITIONS; Reprint edition (19 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956251536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956251534
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Kemp was born in Manchester in 1967, on the same day that the first Velvet Underground album was released. He has lived in London since 1989, and currently teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London.
His first novel, "London Triptych" won the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize.


His second book, "Twentysix" is a collection of short erotic prose poems, as well as a meditation on language, and how we put sex and pleasure into words.

A non-fiction book, "The Penetrated Male" was published in October 2013 (Punctum Books).

His next novel will be published in 2014 by Myriad Editions.

Product Description

Review

'Vivid and visceral, London Triptych cuts deep to reveal the hidden layers of a secret history.' --JAKE ARNOTT

'Charting three very different affairs taking place against the backdrop of three very different Londons, Jonathan Kemp's first novel is a thought-provoking enquiry into what changes in gay mens' lives as the decades pass - and what doesn't. As the connections and reflections across the years reveal themselves, this is a book that will make you think - and make you feel.' --NEIL BARTLETT

'Despite reaching across a century, Kemp's characters are believable and down to earth; the focus is not on period setting but on dialogue. A thoroughly absorbing and pacy read... a fresh angle on gay life and on the oldest profession.' --TIME OUT

'Kemp's language is beautiful; his characters are carefully drawn and the dialogue engaging. The narratives overlap and are all the more moving for their subtlety. Drawing inspiration from the life and work of Oscar Wilde, just as Michael Cunningham's The Hours drew from Virginia Woolf, London Triptych is a touching and engrossing read.' --ATTITUDE

'By turns explicit and energetic, Kemp's forceful prose uncompromisingly draws the reader in. A strange, squalid, rather interesting book.' --METRO

'Vivid and visceral, London Triptych cuts deep to reveal the hidden layers of a secret history.' --JAKE ARNOTT

'Charting three very different affairs taking place against the backdrop of three very different Londons, Jonathan Kemp's first novel is a thought-provoking enquiry into what changes in gay mens' lives as the decades pass - and what doesn't. As the connections and reflections across the years reveal themselves, this is a book that will make you think - and make you feel.' --NEIL BARTLETT

'Astonishingly textured prose and wonderfully defined narrative voices...I recognised the characters immediately and wanted to follow them.'
--JOANNE HARRIS

About the Author

Jonathan Kemp teaches creative writing, literature and queer theory. He also DJs. Originally from the North, he has lived in London for twenty years.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Ben Illis on 22 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
A pacy, vivid, eminently readable and extremely accomplished literary fiction debut. Three entwined narratives unfurl, revealing the lives of three gay Londoners, spanning a century of gay history. The narrative twists around the dark, seamy undercurrent of London's gay life that is a curious constant, even as society and its attitudes change, conjuring up a very different portrait of London and the twentieth century gay experience from anything else out there. London Triptych is highly charged with strong emotion and a powerful, raw sexuality.

Kemps draws very real characters with very real flaws and deep, visible wounds who are fully human in all their unreliability and weakness and very capable of acting in a frustratingly self-destructive way. Each character's story is ultimately a profound tragedy and yet these are not characters to be pitied, but who live their lives unabashedly and truthfully to themselves, for good or bad and with pride or shame. They react organically to the lives they live in, accepting the choices they have made, in some cases, and railing against them in others. Each trades to some extent in combinations of sex, money and power and each within the context of their place in the society of their time. Jack manages to cling to a sweet, blind and hopeless optimism in the face of obvious disaster; Colin is weighed down by a quietly terrified, claustrophobic inaction and meekly accepts a life unlived, while David's confrontational hedonism and decadence leads to a spiralling descent into an inevitable and terrible destruction born of the obsession, frustration, fear, anger, bitterness, love and regret that have shaped his existence.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. Anand on 7 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This book made me laugh, made me cry and kept me intrigued throughout.
Kemp weaves three stories together seamlessly, making you feel empathy, sympathy and pity for his (often brazen, but still endearing) characters.
Probably not suitable for the more prudish reader due to pages and pages of quite graphic sexual exploits but for everyone else, READ IT! Whether gay or not gay- this is a hilarious (and harrowing) narrative of human relationships, romance (only sometimes) and sex.
Bloody good.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By LoveReading on 26 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
The cover blurb was compelling: 'Rent boys, aristocrats, artists and criminals ...' And it is indeed a bold debut by Jonathan Kemp, both accomplished and unflinching in its portrayal of 'London's strangely constant gay underworld.' What I loved about this novel was the tension between overlapping worlds: on the one a hand darkly irreverent orgy of hedonistic abandon, and on the other, a painful existence of denial and lives half-lived. The introduction of the soon-to-be-famous Oscar Wilde was a stroke of genius - and Kemp's lyrical prose and seamless dialogue was a joy to read. I really am looking forward to reading more from this talented writer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Tilley on 27 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback
London Triptych, Jonathan Kemp's debut novel, is a must read for all genders, straight and gay alike. This book which is set in London and spans over a hundred years, links the lives of Jack 1895, Colin 1954, and David 1998. That all three men are gay should not put off the straight reader. Yes, the sex in the book is explicit, but that it does not overwhelm the stories is a tribute to Kemp's storytelling ability.

I found myself, as each individual story begins to unwind, becoming increasingly emotionally attached to each character. Jack's story, which by Kemp's admission, is the most fixed historically, explores what it is to be a male prostitute at the end of the nineteenth century. Although Jack himself is a fiction, this character's imagined interplay with the very real historical figure of Oscar Wilde, makes for fascinating reading. The character of Colin, a repressed would be artist from the nineteen fifties, counterpoints Jack's libidinal innocence, even as he plunges, eyes wide open, into the seamier side of London's hidden side. Colin fraught with doubt, disgust and shame of his own desires embarks upon a 'quest' of self discovery with Gore (Colin's model). Finally the third character, David, is set at the end of the twentieth century. David, whose story is similar to Jack's in that he also chooses a life as a rent boy, undergoes a very different journey suffering, eventually, a complete disillusionment and detachment. Until, that is, he, like Jack and Colin, discover love...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 20 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
A compelling, sensitive and sexy novel, which - rare for literary fiction - is also a page turner.

Like Alan Hollinghurst, Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson, this writer deserves recognition beyond the gay community, as he has so much to say about being human.

While I'm on the subject of recognition of gay authors, I'd like to give a plug for Samuel Lock - a terribly underrated author who writes with compassion, humour and sensitivity about the gay London of the 1950s in As Luck Would Have It, The Whites of Gold and Nothing But the Truth.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an amazing first novel by Jonathan Kemp. He tells the stories of three gay men spread over one hundred odd years in London. It starts with Jack Rose in the 1890's where he gets introduced to the world of male whores after first becoming a telegram boy. He meets a lot of very interesting characters including Oscar Wilde, who is written brilliantly by Kemp, and he admits in his `Afterword' that he pretty much made up all of the dialogue after extensive research.

Then it moves on to the 1950's where 54 year old repressed, gay, artist Colin Read leans towards his urges in drawing a male model, whore and part time anything that goes, Gregory or `Gore to his friends. Gore opens the door to sexual liberation just enough for Colin to fall through with beguiling yet tragic results.

Then we are brought up to date with David a hedonistic, male whore who embraces the drug fuelled excesses of the 1990's and all the ups and downs that it brings. We have sex, drugs and well art. It is all loosely tied together through two of the central characters and a web of connections through a shared need for gay sex and a moth to flame relationship with Londons more `theatrical' night spots.

It is told in episodic form that pulls the whole thing together and has a rhythm that carries you along to the ultimate end that face them all.

I ruddy loved this, and found it hard to put down, one of those where I was sad it was finished as I wanted more, and that is the best way to leave your audience. For gay fiction this is a must have and I can not recommend highly enough, lets hope Mr Kemp does a follow up soon.
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