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The Death of an Ordinary Man [Paperback]

Glen Duncan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 July 2004
Nathan's gravestone offers a short and hopeful summary: At rest. But Nathan is not at rest, and knows he won't be until he can find out how and why he died. A spectral spectator throughout the day of the wake, he listens to his wife, son, daughter, father and best friend, getting to know them like he has never known them before. But there are two things he can't understand: a strange young couple on the fringes of the wake, whose presence fills him with dread; and a room in his house he never knew existed, with a door he feels compelled to open. A door that he knows will lead to a terrifying secret. Part detective story, part family portrait, part tale of the unexpected, THE DEATH OF AN ORDINARY MAN is an unflinching look at the margins of human experience, where the boundaries of fundamental feelings - love, grief, desire, shame and hope - meet and mingle, and no motivation is as simple as it seems.


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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,118,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying horror 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding tale 1 May 2007
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, poignant, unsentimental & brilliant. 15 Oct 2006
By Susan
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Glen Duncan's least sinister novel... 18 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Glen Duncan is the master of writing the nitty gritty of those thoughts which most of us are embarrassed to think, or even verbalise. This book puts us directly into the heads of every one of its characters (bar one, whom we never actually meet, but who casts a shadow into the story). It tells the story of Nathan, who is a ghost at his own funeral, dipping into and out of the minds of the attendees, his family, and into and out of their memories. There is a door with a scary attraction, and two mysterious strangers.

Duncan is at his best when writing the secret thoughts and memories of people. If the human mind really thinks of sex once every 7 minutes, then his is probably slightly ahead of the curve - and yet it feels entirely authentic, the way thoughts meander casually into and out of little flashes of sexuality. He is a magnificent writer, and this book is entirely convincing, compelling and captivating throughout.

The reason it only gets 4 stars, rather than 5, is that for me, the mystery of the death was overplayed at the start, and resolved without the climactic sense of catastrophe I'd been expecting. A lot of anticipation, then never quite paid off. Perhaps that was the point, in some ways, but I could not help feeling slightly disappointed.

Still, I'd highly recommend this as perhaps Duncan's least sinister novel I've read so far...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I think I enjoyed it! 3 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
I think that any book that provokes a reaction is a worthy read. The stronger the reaction, the better the writing. What Glen Duncan has done is to produce an amazing piece of literature. It captivated, appalled, shocked and effected me. The author shows directness with uneasy subjects in equal measure with compassion for his characters. There are some genuinely amazing moments where I was physically cringeing and some truly electrifying moments which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (just wait for the moment when Nathan and Claire are alone). The pace is good and the mysteries unravel at a satisfying pace.
Did I enjoy it? I think so but more from an appreciation of the art of the literature rather than the story itself.
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