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Pompey Paperback – 7 Nov 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Unbound (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783520205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783520206
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"He has done for Portsmouth (Portsmouth, for heaven's sake) what Baudelaire did for Paris, Joyce for Dublin and Paul Bowles for Tangier… One of the very best and most absurdly underrated novels of the nineties." (Stephen Fry)

"Disgusting and brilliant – should earn Meades justifiable comparison to Joyce, Celine, Pynchon." (Paul Spike Vogue)

"There is no doubt that Pompey is the product of a brilliant mind: one would not, however, wish to dine with its author." (Nick Hornby Times Literary Supplement)

"The English novel needs its senses to be violently deranged, and this piledriver of a book…might just provide a kick-start." (Elizabeth Young Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

A paperback reissue of one of the most viciously brilliant 20th century British novels…

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Adrian R. Fry on 10 Oct. 2000
Format: Unknown Binding
Best known for his idiosynchratic television series' and broadsheet restaurant criticism, Jonathan Meades here presents us with an extraordinarily dense, vile vision of the underbelly of provincial Engliand in the post war period. With his lurid tales of a Portsmouth firework maker and his dysfunctional family, Meades invites us to look beyond the 'Londoncentric' literature of the Amises and their ilk, instead inviting us to consider the dark truths behind English traditions as diverse and corrupt as backstreet abortion, music hall smut and cult religion. Meades is a writer of huge talent who deserves to be judged on a par with Celine, Burroughs and other bohemian chronaclers of the darker nights of the modern soul.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sera69 on 2 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
Meades sets about his kitchen sink story of a dysfunctional family with a verve and talent unsurpassed in anything else i've read. It is, to be blunt, an awe inspiring piece of prose.

Spanning some 40 years in the lives of it's protaganists, Meades travels from back street abortionists to glorious redemtion as he narrates the story of the 'Firework makers' children; The offspring of one Guy Vallender part owner with his brother in a fireworks business based in the eponymous city of the title.

However, do not be mislead into thinking that this is one for the beach or that it is some kind of weighty rags-to-riches tome. It is a book that demands to be read and re-read many times. It has more invention in language and style; more ideas, scenes and plot that can comfortably be discussed here. Every page and chapter is a literary joy.

But... It will leave you, as Meades himself points out, needing to wash your hands once you finish it. For a while it will sit on your bookshelf like a leper, untouchable until you can steal yourself for another dip into the murk. It is not a dirty novel and filth is undoubtedtly the wrong word, too. It simply reeks of the unspeakable, the unimaginable, the unsayable. The Vallender's family secrets are like those of every family, just more so and more indescribably so.

Comical, convoluted and breathtaking and not for the faint of heart... Adjectives have not yet been invented to do justice to this novel. Perhaps i might suggest Meadesian?

Wonderful.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Without question this man is a genius. His work is in the realm of self-parody at times, as those who have watched his wonderful series of architectural studies of England that were on the BBC some time ago will confirm. It's like a puzzle book for those sitting a life exam. It can make you forget your own name, figuratively speaking, so alliterative, so allusive, so damned clever is this writing. The thing is so mightily intelligent that it could take a Tripos tomorrow. What's it about? Well, it's about a quarter to three sometimes, or something like an inch and a quarter thick. It's about war and peace and dolphins and it's about Eddie and Douglas and Monica, Alban Meyer Decker and Guy Vallender. It's about Leopoldsville, gold mines, bridges, Jean Marie and Bruno Berg. There is incest. There's also a nasty bit about the Jesuits. There's a deal of wife and other woman beating, sometimes to death. There is a surprising attribution of the term Sweet Fanny Adams. There are STDs. It may induce nausea in the unwary.

There's a bit about Magritte (at least I think it was Magritte); here are two quotes: "It's a clever Belgian who knows his father"; "... the job of the stuff in bottles [perfume] is to socialise the elemental reek which frightens man with its evidence of the generic potency of women." All the other quotes I isolated for inclusion here proved to be too obscene. But funny. Oh yes, Meades does funny. He does it bleakly, rollickingly, obscenely, scurrilously, violently and with added jouissance. He does it, in fact, unforgettably well.

Well, I've read the thing and I'm still not sure what it's about what its about or why. I have some theories and maybe by the time I've read the book again I might be in a fit state to pontificate. At the moment I am exhausted. All I know is that it is very, very funny in a coolly clever and lucidly devastating way. Want to read it? You definitely should.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Harman on 5 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A really outstanding effort from Meades, and that's just his knowledge of whisky. At the end of the book there is an imagined account of one of the male characters dying from cancer. He uses whisky as a sedative and there is one particularly memorable account of a drunken romp on Hayling Island, during which Meades gives a list of famous single malt brands which would put most Englishmen to shame. Meades obviously enjoys a kind of innocent peurility - he leaps at the chance of donning the main character Eddie with a massive penis for example. Maybe by reading this trenchant, demanding book one is better able to understand the novel which came after, The Fowler Family Business. If that book is whisky, then this one is beer, yet to be distilled and honed. Sometimes one feels that he pushes imagination beyond its limits - witness the retired chef who spends his days deep-fat frying for fun, or the cult gang who push different kinds of animals off high buildings as a way to find out which one would most be suitable as a religious icon, based upon how they splatter then the hit the ground. But its all good fun.
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