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Seeds Of Greatness Hardcover – 6 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224077732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224077736
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,145,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Presented as a wise cracking monologue… laugh-a-line funny but in the tradition of jewish humour, touches a serious issue" -- Financial Times, John Sutherland

'Jon Canter is hilarious and self deprecating, a wonderful, wise and witty writer.' -- Helen Fielding

'well observed, warm humour… perfect parody' -- Andrew Collins, The Times

This is clever AND funny AND moving AND brilliant -- Boyd Hilton, BBC Radio 5 Simon Mayo Book Panel

well observed, warm humour… note-perfect parody -- The Times

Book Description

A legendary comedy scriptwriter writes his first novel; the result: a comic classic.

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Cromie on 20 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First let me give you my reasons for choosing this book. I heard it reviewed on the Simon Mayo Book Panel on Radio 5 Live. Boyd Hilton described it saying "This is clever AND funny AND moving AND brilliant." All the reviewers said something similar. One said that he would naturally shy away from any book that has "Hilarious" on the cover, (I always feel the same) but he had thoroughly enjoyed the book, describing it as "well observed, warm humour and thought provoking."

I found the book light and easy to read. I would not have described it as full of belly laughs, but I did laugh many times while reading it. Things I laughed at were different from the "jokes" the reviewers said they found funny, but I guess that is the essence of humour. There were lots of observations that made me grin - example I enjoyed his description of biographers, they think "they're human torches of truth when they're journalists with more space." I did wonder whether some of the things which amused me would only work for a male audience - he talked about sex with twins and observed that this was the sort of event that you were more likely to remember on your death bed than lots of good deeds and honourable actions. Most males would agree, even if not publicly.

I had thought that this would be critical of celebrities, how some achieve status while being of no real worth to the world. In the end it was the normal guy who I thought was the target, the one who had all the opportunities but did not take them, who blamed others for his lack of success. In fact I found it hard to like Dave because he was such a weak person. In many ways I related to Jack much more, maybe that was the message.

I was not sure about the ending.
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By WJR on 7 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jon Canter explores the relationship between two Jewish friends who grow up together in north London, yet whose lives diverge in adulthood. An academic high achiever who burns out young, David Lewin is commissioned to write a biography of his lifelong friend, TV personality Jack Harris, after the latter's untimely death. But Lewin finds himself unable to stick to the no-warts brief that the publisher and widow demand: his writing turns to drugs and infidelity as he exposes the grittier details of Harris's life.Canter explores with gentle acuity the oppositions in long-term friendship, and delves humorously into the relationship between a writer and his subject. The differences between the friends are retrospectively refined by Lewin: the rebellious Harris leading his friend and eventual biographer astray. Ultimately, the charming but hopeless narrator and his counterpart struggle to discover who they are. Canter argues that the more successful of them will be the one who fulfils his potential to be ordinary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
All the best comedy books have an underlying vein of genuine emotion, and that is what makes this novel so effective. It is consistently amusing and sometimes laugh out loud funny. Cantor gets the tone in this book perfectly right - dry and witty, but never silly. It's rare to find a story that makes you both laugh out loud and well up with tears.

It is narrated in the first person by David, a thoroughly nice and decent man who has failed to fulfil his potential in life. David has been asked to write the biography of his recently deceased best friend, a charismatic and wealthy celebrity. There is plenty of gentle mockery of celebrity lifestyles, but also of ordinary people, and humanity in general. But alongside that is a touching tale of an unlikely friendship, and of how it feels to be a supporting character in your own life.

David is a likeable and funny narrator, although you will have to resist the urge to shake him at times. He's easy to identify with, even if you wince sometimes at his faux pas. The character of Jack, his famous friend, is also well drawn. I imagine people who work in the world of television/media might particularly enjoy this book as they may recognise some of the 'types' and scenarios from their own experiences, but it's funny for a layperson too. I don't know how accurate it is, but it sounds like it could be.

I think this will be enjoyed by fans of the Sue Townsend books such as Adrian Mole (although it's not in a diary format) as the loveable loser theme is similar, as is the mix of humour and emotion. I found it well paced and well balanced, both an enjoyable read and serious enough to feel worthwhile having read it. Highly recommended.
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By Fiona on 21 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Superbly written, would recommend this book to anyone, Jewish or not Jewish. Very evocative and thought provoking too. Read it!
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By Paul Richards on 27 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is without doubt the best British novel I've read this millennium. I ADORED it and I urge you to buy it (and, no, I don't know the author)
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