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Red Shift Paperback – 23 Oct 2014

28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks; New Ed edition (23 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007127863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007127863
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Garner was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in 1934. His began writing his first novel at the age of 22 and is renowned as one of Britain's outstanding writers. He has won many prizes for his writing, and, in 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to literature. He holds two honorary doctorates and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. In 2004 he co-founded The Blackden Trust http://www.theblackdentrust.org.uk/

Product Description

Review

“A magnificently multilayered novel… and a superbly exciting piece of literature.”
The Times

“…A work of poetic imagination that will keep any adult mind at full stretch.”
Daily Mail

“A bitter, complex, brilliant book.”
Ursula Le Guin

From the Back Cover

Under Orion's stars, bluesilver visions torment Macey, Thomas and Tom as they struggle with age-old forces. Distanced from each other in time and isolated from those they live among, they are yet inextricably bound together by the sacred power of the moon's axe, each seeking his own refuge at Mow Cop.


Can those they love so intensely keep them clinging to reality? Or is the future eternally destined to reflect the past?

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Birch on 20 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book when I was 14 - it was one of several that my English teacher recommended, not as part of the school curriculum, but because he thought they were good books (these were halcyon pre-National Curriculum days where teachers could often follow their own enthusiams, and thus build the same in others).

I cannot recall what else he recommded now, but Red Shift simply blew me away then, and continues to have an effect today - 30 years later.

My friend and I read it at the same time and discussed it endlessly. We were gripped by everything - the style, the story, the lack of a traditional narrative thread, the switch between times - and viewpoints, the meaning (if there was one).

Its not a perfect book - the Roman episodes do not work entirely well at times, and returning to it now its a bit dated - but that does not matter when you can be so gripped by the pace and drive of the book (I will not say "story" because that would imply a structure that it does not have - and it is that too that fascinates).

It changed the way I looked on writing, and the way I wrote (indeed maybe still write sometimes). The power of the short sentance, and well chosen words. The way in which the reader fills in the gaps to the extent that every reader probably reads a "different" book.

Red Shift is at its heart a teenage novel (indeed it was probably one the first books aimed at the teenage market, an age group that - and it is hard to believe this now - was incredibly poorly provided for right up to the early 80s), and perhaps its only teenagers who appreciate the structural iconoclasm because many older readers hate it. I'd urge anyone to give it a go - relax and dive in. Let it flow over you. Emerge at the other end (its not a long book), think a bit, then dive in again... and find a whole different story each time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a complex, ambiguous and intense read that remains enigmatic right to the very end. While ostensibly written as a children's book it is very different from Garner's Elidor, for example, which is far simpler and easier to `get' (though it is still a great book which terrified me as a child).

Red Shift consists of three narratives: Jan and Tom, the teenage lovers who are misunderstood by his parents; Macey and his band of military brothers on the run amongst enemy factions; and Thomas and Marge, caught up in what seems to be the Reformation civil wars. All three are replete with literary and historical echoes - Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Roman invasions of Britain, Vietnam (this was published in 1967), Cromwell and the religious wars of the reformation - and yet the timeframes are never delineated and the stories float in a kind of timeless space. By the end the three coalesce and cannot be unwound from each other in the final pages.

At heart each story is about love, betrayal, violence and pain. I almost dreaded the end (especially of the Jan/Tom story) and yet it is all so right and fitting when it comes. Be warned, this is a book with very little exposition and practically no scene-setting: as readers we are thrust into the narrative and have to navigate our own way through the text. There are pages of no more than pure dialogue (no `he said' `she said' here) so if you dislike this style of writing this might be one to avoid. But it would be a shame since this really is a marvellous feat of imagination and pure writing, which also forces the reader to work imaginatively hard. A great book for a teenager and one which really opens up the delights of literature.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
I too read this story in school, many more years ago now than I want to remember. I was reading simple adventure stories and came across 'Red Shift' somehow and was completely captured by the pure imagination of it. Maybe the only novelist who comes close for me now to that sense of wonder and other worldliness is Robert Holdstock in his Mythago novels. But if you can put 'Red Shift' into the hands of a teenager at just the right time...... ....you will create a reader of books for a lifetime.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Red Shift would be the greatest children's book ever, if it wasn't really a dark and disturbing adult book subversively circulated to the young. Short of giving your kids "American Psycho" or "The 120 Days of Sodom", I can't think of a better way of messing with their heads. I read it (after the first 4 Garners) at 13, when I was smart enough to crack the code and too dumb to spot the sex, and it freaked me out, but not as much as when I re-read it five years later. There's three stories in one, plus bits of Vietnam, King Lear and the Ballad of Tamlyn, but its all really in Tom's over-intellectual, working-class, sexually-confused head as he tries to make sense of everything moving away from him. Along with "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer", this is Cheshire's greatest contribution to world culture. Tom's a cold
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JB TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Can we ever escape life's repeating patterns? The three sets of couples in Red Shift don't seem able to, as history repeats itself over a period of a thousand years at Mow Cop in Cheshire. Pulled by invisible forces, the men - Tom, Thomas and Macey - struggle but fail for some understanding and equilibrium.

Garner's approach here is to provide the minimum of descriptive content for the reader, but instead to immerse them in the dialogue, this sometimes resulting in a whole page or so of terse and clipped sentences. It can be disorientating to start with, but it can also bring an immediacy and involvement. As our three parallel stories develop, the intercutting between scenes becomes almost natural, until by the end the threads are woven together into one.

Written in 1973, the Vietnam War was very much in people's consciousness, and Garner draws allusions between the Romans-gone-feral and the GI's caught up in the insanity of of a viciously brutal war they couldn't win. Therefore, Logan, Face and Magoo use phraseology and terms which presumably were accurate to that time, the idea being that this would resonate with the reader and perhaps add a reality which would otherwise be difficult to capture.

In the Civil War storyline, the author centrepieces the story of the siege of Barthomley Church, a true but harrowing episode as barbarous as anything in the Vietnam War. The third strand is contemporary, but played out against the landscape of the preceding two stories and carries with it all the unresolved questions.

Essentially Red Shift is a love story, but one which Garner exploits to look in depth at some of the crucial issues at the time of writing (and of course in 1973 the anti-war movement and the rise of feminism were highly significant topics).
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