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Otherwise Pandemonium (Pocket Penguins) [Paperback]

Nick Hornby
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 2005 Pocket Penguins
In May 2005 Penguin will publish 70 unique titles to celebrate the company's 70th birthday. The titles in the Pocket Penguins series are emblematic of the renowned breadth of quality of the Penguin list and will hark back to Penguin founder Allen Lane's vision of good books for all'. Otherwise Pandemonium features two Nick Hornby stories, both packed with the trademark wit and poignancy that have made him one of the UK's most popular writers and one written specially for this volume.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (6 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141022515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141022512
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 11.2 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 947,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Hornby was born in 1957, and is the author of six novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award)Slam and Juliet, Naked. He is also the author of Fever Pitch, a book on his life as a devoted supporter of Arsenal Football Club, and has edited the collection of short stories Speaking with the Angel. He has written a book about his favourite songs, 31 Songs, and his reading habits,The Complete Polysyllabic Spree. In 2009 he wrote the screenplay for the film An Education. Nick Hornby lives and works in Highbury, north London.

Product Description

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of four novels: A Long Way Down, High Fidelity, About a Boy and How to be Good, two works of non-fiction, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs, and the editor of two anthologies, My Favourite Year and Speaking with the Angel. He lives in Highbury, North London.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, the humanity! 4 July 2005
It's not that the plots aren't great, because they definitely are. In the first story, "Otherwise Pandemonium", the old rite-of-passage chestnut is given a good roasting, and in the second, "Not a Star", a mother discovers a big secret of her son's. They might not seem that special from my descriptions, but both yarns are fun and gripping. Right, the plots are great, you just have to trust me on that. But the real appeal of these two stories, both written in the first-person perspective, is the way in which they flawlessly convey the personality of the characters telling them. The fifteen-year old male protagonist of the first story is just as real and believable as the forty-something woman telling the latter one. There's something utterly delightful in the way their voices bounce off the page, giving me an instant sense of who these people are.
They're human. Obvious, yeah? Not really - as a reader, watcher, listener I've felt that too many storytellers fail to instil their tales with that quality of life simultaneously the most mundane and extraordinary: humanity. Hornby brings this quality in spades, as is his wont (see "31 Songs", his collection of writing on music). Authors like Nick Hornby are to be valued, because they make us remind us of ourselves. If that makes sense.
Though "Otherwise Pandemonium" is a reprint (from the McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales anthology, a stellar collection of weird tales), the all-new "Not a Star" is reason good enough to buy this volume. In fact, I recommend that you buy it, put it away, and save it for a day you're feeling really low. Reading "Not a Star" will make it all better.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun 8 Sep 2005
The first thing to note is that these Penguin 70th anniversary special editions are very nice little books. They are about the same size as a traditional Penguin but much thinner; they are much better than the previous anniversary editions that were so ridiculously small you lost them almost instantly.
This slim volume contains two short stories: Otherwise Pandemonium and the previously unpublished Not a Star.
As usual (for Hornby) both stories take the form of first-person narratives. However, the protagonists are not typical Hornby characters. In Otherwise Pandemonium the main character is a 15 year old American boy who buys a video recorder with some special features. In Not a Star the main character is a middle aged woman who discovers that her son has become a porn star because of a prodigious genetic endowment.
I'm not sure that either short story is wholly successful (for example in Otherwise Pandemonium US setting never fully convinces and the rather self-conscious Catcher in the Rye but not Catcher in the Rye style labours) but Hornby clearly had great fun writing them and this sense of fun is infectious. Both stories are quick, light, easy reads providing much enjoyment and entertainment for the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awight for a sunny afternoon 18 May 2010
A volume of a couple of Hornby's short stories, both told in the first person. The title story is of an American teenager who buys a video with some added features. The second, called "I'm not a star", is the story of a mother who discovers the use that her son has put his God given talent to. Despite the first story's rites of passage slant, both stories are fun and entertaining; a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two warm, witty and human short stories 7 Aug 2011
By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
OTHERWISE PANDEMONIUM is a `taster' book of two short stories by Nick Hornby - OTHERWISE PANDEMONIUM and NOT A STAR, which were put out by The Times, Penguin Books and Starbucks as part of a 2007 promotion.

OTHERWISE PANDEMONIUM is beautifully constructed story about a teenage boy who lives with his mother in Berkeley, California. He doesn't have many friends and plays trumpet in a local band, where he meets Martha who's "hot in a not slutty way". Because band rehearsals coincide with basketball games, he decides to buy a VCR to tape them. However the VCR he buys has an extraordinary ability to record not only programmes that have been on, but also programmes that will be on. As the narrator skips through future programming though, he discovers that something terrible is going on - something cataclysmic - and he has to decide what he wants to do about it.

It's a brilliant idea and it's told in a pitch-perfect first person voice that feels like a believable teenage American boy. I particularly like the snippets of information about his family background and his feelings about what he knows and what he's going to do about it. It's a great idea, brilliantly executed and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

NOT A STAR is a more light-hearted story, told by a woman who discovers that her son is working as an actor in the porn industry and he's been hiding a large [ahem] asset. Although it's a humorous story, it's also surprisingly tender - especially as the narrator struggles to come to terms with her son's choices, the impact of which brings to light certain things about her past and her relationship with her husband.
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