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The Death of an Ordinary Man Paperback – 5 Jul 2004


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Paperback, 5 Jul 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (5 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743252276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743252270
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A virtuoso variation on a theme...a novel of force and eloquence' -- Sunday Telegraph

'An appallingly intelligent writer...a dense, subtle, sensitive, perfectly shaped fiction' -- Guardian

'Unsparing brilliance' -- Metro

'What he is doing is wonderful, extraordinarily dark, and yes, important. It is important because he is a major writer' -- Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Glen Duncan's previously acclaimed novels are I, LUCIFER; LOVE REMAINS; and HOPE. He lives in South London.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 May 2007
Format: Paperback
We hear about Nathan, who is dead but definitely not at peace. He needs to find out how and why he died and hovers over his own funeral listening in to everyone's conversations. At his wake there are two people he doesn't recognise - who are they and why are they in his house? Also, Nathan needs to find out why his youngest daughter is dead and it's a heartbreaking revelation when he remembers the circumstances that ended her young life. As he begins to get close to remembering his own death the tension is unbearable and absolutely heart wrenching.

Duncan has a great mastery of words and had me spellbound all the way through this book. He did an incredible job in showing the reader the complexities of our relationships and forces us into facing up to unthinkable scenarios and wondering how we would cope with them. The way that he gets under the skin of a bereaved family is astounding and painfully accurate. This book is shocking and at times harrowing, but exquisitely written and I was captivated by it. If you enjoyed Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones then this is one I would highly recommend to you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan on 15 Oct 2006
Format: Paperback
I had never read anything by this author before and I found this book absolutely fascinating. There are moments of stream-of-consciousness and disjointedness to contend with, but I did not have a problem with it because the overall narrative is the experience of a dead man, so I didn't expect it to follow a linear plot structure anyway. What we do have are dreams, memories, sensations and profound emotion all mixed up with some elements of real-time narrative. To say it is a roller-coaster ride would be to demean it with a cliche, but that is what it's like. I defy anyone, particularly if they are a parent, to come away from this book unmoved. Glen Duncan seems able to express the unexpressable in terms of grief, loss and love without becoming maudlin or sentimental. A fabulous book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Glen Duncan has a depth of insight that leaves one astonished and holding on to every word. This is a novel that I'm going to be recommending to everyone I know until I'm blue in the face - such audacity, so brilliantly used. It is true that this goes more than skin-deep and it uses a trope, that of the narrative being delivered by a dead man (and this is no plot spoiler because it's evident from the opening page) which is best left to the highly skilled. But that's all right because Duncan is more than equal to the narrator of The Lovely Bones, making that book seem amateur and unrealistic in contrast with this one.

It is amazing how completely Duncan pulls off the reader's suspension of disbelief. The trick is so simply and so elegantly performed that within a few pages you are hooked. Nathan is dead, he's not exactly sure how, but his question is only gradually answered, and by then it has mutated to why? There is something he is still finding hard to contemplate, something that happened in his past. For now he is the ghost at his own funeral. His wife Cheryl is there, as strong and beautiful as ever, though there was something wrong between them, and he is fumbling towards that answer too.

Curiosity is the key; courage and truth may help to provide the answers. This book has a moral certitude about it that is all-but miraculous. It doesn't preach, it doesn't prescribe but it does offer something more tangible than a salutary story might be expected to provide. It is both tender about death and life and free of any kind of junk philosophy. I'm stunned at the intelligence, sensuality and sheer writing talent on show in this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mathew P. Wright on 30 Aug 2004
Format: Paperback
Has anyone ever read a single scary horror book? I have, Glen Duncan wrote it, and you're reading my review of it right now.
How can I put this eloquently, yet convey my emotion for this book? I loathe and detest it. I hope never, ever to be forced to read a single page of it ever again.
So you may be asking, why did I give it such a high rating? The answer is simple, Duncan is a master wordsmith. The tempo of the sentences match the mood of the book, confused at the start, gradually becoming more understandable as Nathan begins to understand. This is also the reason why it did not get five stars, because it is incredibly hard to get into. Duncan's other books that I have read (I, lucifer and Weathercock) I could not put down for days at a time, but this book took me weeks to read through it. Nevertheless, the thoughts it inspired me with as I gradually got through it were well worth the effort, and I would recommend anyone to read it.
So in summary, this book is bleak, bleaker even than anything by Chuck Palahniuk, but it's a work of genious of words.
This is a book of two horrors (in Duncan's own words):
The first horror is that there is horror, and the second horror is that you can live through it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Nov 2014
Format: Paperback
Tough one to review this, a book that makes you think, does very much cover the human condition and one that you gradually peel apart to understand the circumstances behind the story.

Trying hard not to give anything away, we start with a man floating above his own funeral and trying to remember what happened, He follows through to the wake and we see (through his eyes) how his family are coping and he/we can also sense what they are thinking.

He is trying to remember and we as readers are trying to understand his circumstances. This was a tough book to read, but very good at capturing the thoughts and reality of ordinary people. Dropped this back to three stars as it took a while to get into and I was a little underwhelmed by the conclusion. Having said that this was an emotional book and well written, I can see why the author has the reputation that he does.
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