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Seven Lies [Paperback]

James Lasdun
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

1 Feb 2007

Stefan Vogel, a young man growing up in the former East Germany, longs for love, glory and freedom - yearnings that express themselves in a lifelong fantasy of going to America. The hopeless son of an ambitious mother and a kind but unlucky diplomat, Stefan lurches between his budding, covert interests - girls and Romantic poetry - to find himself embroiled in dissident politics, which oddly seems to offer both.

In time, by a series of blackly comic and increasingly dangerous manoeuvres, he contrives to make his fantasy come true, finding himself not only in the country of his dreams, but also married to the woman he idolises. America seems everything he expected and meanwhile his secrets are safely locked away behind the Berlin Wall.

A new life of unbounded bliss seems to have been granted to him. And then that life begins to fall apart...


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Seven Lies + The Horned Man
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099483688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099483687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 686,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A riveting, thrillerish plot. Here is a stylist who's also a fabulous storyteller... A treat" (Daily Telegraph)

"An elegant, moving and intelligent book" (Irish Times)

"Gripping and beautifully written" (Scotsman)

"Grips the reader from the start... Lean, artful, assured" (Spectator)

"James Lasdun is a tremendous writer and Seven Lies is that rare thing, a novel that delivers on every level. It is so gripping that you want to gobble it down at a single sitting, and yet the prose is so exacting that you want to linger over every sentence" (Geoff Dyer)

Book Description

A superb second novel looking at the nature of deceit and desire.

'A master at ensnaring the reader... Intense, powerful and superbly crafted' - The Times


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scorned Man 15 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James Lasdun's new novel is less eccentric than his first, The Horned Man, but all the more seductive for it. Stefan Vogel, immigrant from the former East Germany to the USA, begins his diary with an account of how a woman threw a glass of wine over him at a party. (Yes, that's not blood on the front cover...) The event is recounted, or recalled, several times by him over the following pages, sometimes briefly

"Are you Stefan Vogel? Yes. Splash!"

and sometimes with all his poet's tools to the fore

"And out of the points of light gleaming about her, the goblet of red wine, which I have not previously noticed, detaches itself, coming perplexingly towards me, in a perplexingly violent manner, its ruby hemisphere exploding from the glass into elongated fingers like those of some ghastly accusatory hand hurtling through the air at my body until with a great crimson splatter I am suddenly standing there soaking and reeking, blazoned in the livery of shame."

Eventually the book settles down to recount the seemingly unrelated tale of how Stefan came to go West. This makes up most of the book, and it turns out that this is inextricably linked to why he had his clothes ruined with wine, though it's not until near the end that we find out the connection. In the meantime the book has some of the very finest writing I have read in ages, which made me mentally note the book down early on as a possible Best New Book of the Year.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the DDR With Love 6 July 2006
Format:Hardcover
I can't believe I am the first reader to review Seven Lies. I began reading the novel out of curiosity: I have been to Berlin several times and I have read many studies of the DDR (The East German Republic). Lasdun's East Germany is absolutely convincing: he seems to know its society as well as he knows New York, where he has lived for several years. Seven Lies is more than a story about East Germany seen from America after the fall of the Wall. The novel isn't just a portrait of a citizen corrupted by the duplicitous country in which he lives, or a man disappointed that his new nation can not save him from his own distortions and the deceptions to himself and those who he loves. The narration takes audacious leaps which draw in the reader: after I read the ending I turned back to earlier chapters to discover further Stefan's lies and his decline into treachery. Ultimately, the novel questions the existence of innocence itself. Readers who are interested in philosophy will find much to ponder here (the protagonist Stefan Vogel becomes a student of philosophy after failing his exams, and his department of Philosophy is, as he notes, the most smirched department in his University). Lasdun is an accomplished poet as well as a novelist: his prose shines with acute moments of description, such Stefan's parents huddled around their radio, listening to the serialization of a Russian novel, and his mother nodding, pretending to her family, and herself, that she recognizes allusions to fiction she supposedly has read in her youth. Seven Lies is a memorable novel, as rich and compelling as the poetry Stefan cribs and passes off as his own, yet original and highly innovative. I can't praise it enough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripley Goes East 8 May 2007
By Huck Flynn VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There is something compelling and yet repulsive about hero Stefan Vogel in Lasdun's latest novel. Unlike the self deluding Miller in the previous (and wonderful) Horned Man, Vogel is calculating, sly and manipulative but retains the sympathy of the reader nonetheless through his honesty, vulnerability and sheer audacity. Vogel builds a false edifice around himself built on lies (more than seven i think), compounding layer upon layer of untruth, bluff and misunderstanding. We squirm with shared embarrassment, watch his delicate web wobble as Stefan is almost exposed as a fraud in a claustrophobic East Germany itself struggling to maintain its communist principles and ideals when the foundations of society are crumbling in the face of western capitalist democracy. The psychological power struggle is as absorbing as a spy story although it isn't state secrets but Stefan's secret life that is at stake and he'll do anything, betray anyone, family, girlfriends, friends to protect it. Lasdun's poetic prose is excellent as usual and the story is leavened by his sharp wit but the ending is extremely tense and subtly resolved leaving you shocked by, and yet resigned to, the final twist. An impressive literary display, a character study to compare with Highsmith's Ripley and a thoroughly entertaining read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scorned Man 16 May 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
James Lasdun's new novel is less eccentric than his first, The Horned Man, but all the more seductive for it. Stefan Vogel, immigrant from the former East Germany to the USA, begins his diary with an account of how a woman threw a glass of wine over him at a party. The event is recounted, or recalled, several times by him over the following pages, sometimes briefly

"Are you Stefan Vogel? Yes. Splash!"

and sometimes with all his poet's tools to the fore

"And out of the points of light gleaming about her, the goblet of red wine, which I have not previously noticed, detaches itself, coming perplexingly towards me, in a perplexingly violent manner, its ruby hemisphere exploding from the glass into elongated fingers like those of some ghastly accusatory hand hurtling through the air at my body until with a great crimson splatter I am suddenly standing there soaking and reeking, blazoned in the livery of shame."

Eventually the book settles down to recount the seemingly unrelated tale of how Stefan came to go West. This makes up most of the book, and it turns out that this is inextricably linked to why he had his clothes ruined with wine, though it's not until near the end that we find out the connection. In the meantime the book has some of the very finest writing I have read in ages, which made me mentally note the book down early on as a possible Best New Book of the Year.
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