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Robinson Paperback – 22 Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (22 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862074631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862074637
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Chris Petit's novel Robinson triumphs as a portrayal of a life spiralling out of control and of the bleak anonymity of the city of London. His narrator, bored and indifferent to domesticity and the dead rituals of office life, meets the enigmatic Robinson and falls under his curious charm.

It is interesting, though not essential to the enjoyment of the novel, to know a little of the history of Robinson the literary character. He seems to first turn up in 1932 in Louis-Ferdinand Céline's masterpiece, Journey to the End of the Night. He then goes underground for a while before emerging over a decade later in the strange and electrifying poems of Weldon Kees. Another disappearance, along with Kees's own, a gap of a further 30 years or so, and Robinson emerges in the poetry of Simon Armitage.

Petit has used the slowly emerging Robinson mythos to good advantage, adding and building on it, creating a novel that h as much in common with the tone of Céline and the Kees poems; here also is a novel that journeys through the night. Robinson is beguiling, mysterious, strangely familiar, charming, deceitful, dangerous, tragic and wilful. Petit's narrator slowly allows himself to be sucked into Robinson's seedy world, permitting Robinson's will to manipulate his own. He becomes a willing sidekick to Robinson's increasingly dangerous and depraved enterprises.

Petit intended the novel to be set in the near future and certain parts of the later stages of the novel read like Briti sh news summaries from the autumn of 2000. It is a credit to Petit's keen eye for all that is monstrous and messy in British society that this is so. It is also slightly worrying, for one is left with the nasty feeling that some of the other dark events he has imagined might also lurk up and intrude on our daily lives. --Iain Robinson

About the Author

Chris Petit is a novelist and film-maker. His work in film includes 'Radio On', 'Chinese Boxes' and (with lain Sinclair) 'The Cardinal and the Corpse', 'The Falconer and Asylum' and a forthcoming film on the M25. He has also written The Psalm Killer (1997) and Back From the Dead (1999). He lives in London.

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THERE WAS SOMETHING vaguely familiar about Robinson. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By TheJerseyPocket on 17 Feb 2003
Format: Paperback
I first found my "Robinson" in the 'For Sale' shelves of a Euston library. Not quite the seedy Soho side streets which form much of the backdrop to Chris Petit's marvellous noiresque novel but fitting none-the-less. Mysteriously withdrawn from the shelves and offered, "As Seen" for 25p, the book had me under its considerable spell from the very first moment I laid eyes on it. Robinson, the manipulating anti-hero of the title, would have approved.
It was my habit then, and still is on certain days, to judge unknown titles on the strength of their first lines. Petit's tale of the underbelly worlds of second-hand books and porno films seemed, like Robinson himself, to be one step ahead of the game and hooked me in from the start. Christo too - the veiled autobiographical narrator - senses something both familiar and inevitable in the enigmatic Robinson even before they first meet. Destiny, it seems, is taking a hand. We - the readers- feel it too and are half-willingly dragged along for the ride; similarly thrilled and disgusted by where we find ourselves descending. Told with an air of distracted remembrance, the book charts the all too easy shift from drunken roistering, through petty crime, into serious sexualised depravity. Christo's progressive withdrawal from his job, home and wife into a twilight world of late night drinking dens, shady deals and criminal behaviour is worryingly easy despite his apparent lack of moral censure. Unsure of whether he is an observer or an accomplice he treads an uneasy path through the games Robinson plays with him and the other members of his menagerie of 'friends'.
Petit writes with a film lover's (and maker's) hand.
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By Noir Reader. on 29 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't muck about, go out and buy this book as soon as you can and be a richer, more satisfied version of yourself for having done so.
Petit scours the bowels and enlivens the brain. All in one book.
Buy it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 7 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very dark, not overly violent but not for those who dislike sexual frankness, the seedy blowsiness and down-at-heel atmosphere of back-street London pervades this book. I'm surprised that the other reviewer here feels it fits in well with the slightly `end-of-time' feeling of late 2000 - to me it felt like the 1950s and Robinson like some timeless Harry Lime, fading in and out, even apparently drowning at one point, only later to be 'resurrected'. The art is all pornographic in the films being produced in the `Factory' where people sleep on the floor and the late night editing sessions can go on until dawn.

There was not one sympathetic character, other than the narrator Christo and his wife, secretly rediscovering their relationship outside of Robinson's aegis. The other characters were a telling mixture of the harmless (Mr Sparkle) and the predatory (Cookie), effortlessly established and sustained. I thought the level of violence towards Lotte was unnecessary and shuddered at one character's susceptibility to paedophilia, but apart from that it felt so authentic and so grittily challenging that I could only read on with a sense of something mythic (the mystery of Robinson, what he was really after?) being maintained. The murder when it came was almost gratifying.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Ballardian novel 20 Feb 2002
By Carper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure I'd put this book in the top 10 of the last 20 years. But it is definitely a quick taut intriguing read in a style similar to, but more accessible than, J.G. Ballard. It's not as absolutely raw and shocking as Ballard either but there's still plenty of dark raw degradation to enjoy.
I may not share the other reviewer's absolute rapture with this book, but there's no doubt that it is a serious and well-written novel in the Ballardian vein.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Petit's "Robinson" is one of the finest and most neglected novels of the last twenty years. "Robinson" is heavily influenced by the notoriously brilliant and controversial, J.G. Ballard (Crash, Atrocity Exhibition). Petit's training in film is an asset to this narrative driven text, unlikely some highly-regarded authors who get bogged down in the quagmire of a complex narrative world of their own creation (with no idea how to keep it moving without clunking like a Humvee with a flat tire -- e.g. David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, etc...) Events unfold at a hare's pace and the character development is utterly lacking in sentimentality and cutesy irony (thank god!) There is humor and subversive irony to be sure, but not the kind of irony employed by some (Dave Eggers) which is so masturbatory, his self-copulation smacks me in the face when I turn the page. However, I would be doing a great disservice to Petit, if it was not pointed out -- that "Robinson" -- does not read on any level as the work of a film director picking up a quick check. This is a lush, erotic, blisteringly violent, taut, firecracker of a first novel that threatens to set the very pages ablaze as you turn to the shocking climax. This is one hell of a read! It puts most supposedly "daring and dark" literature to shame. If you like Ballard, do yourself a favor and find a kindred Ballardian in Petit. However, if you've never experienced Ballard, do yourself a favor and experience this achingly good trip to the end of the night or the end of the world as projected through a Soho warehouse. Not for the faint or prudish; however, if one is a kindred Ballardian and hopefully after "Robinson", a kindred Petitian, faint or prudish are adjectives not in your immediate vocabulary. There is no reason for this treasure trove of a novel, this walking nightmare of equal parts Max Ernst and Graham Greene, to go unread and unappreciated from this long. Thankfully, it seems brimming over at the Zshops with availibility -- take the chance!
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