- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Jonathan Cape; First Edition edition (1 Mar. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0224074881
- ISBN-13: 978-0224074889
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.9 x 22.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 924,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Devil's Footprints Hardcover – 1 Mar 2007
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More About the Author
'a classic tale with an old-fashioned, gripping plot'
-- Anne Enright, Guardian
"Burnside's dark lyricism gives the ordinary surfaces of life a sinister geometry and his startling images cling to the imagination" -- Sunday Times, April 15, 2007
'Both this novel and Gift Songs are superb achievements' -- The Financial Times
'Burnside whose output is nothing less than phenomenal.'
-- The Herald
'Spare, bewitching, beautifully written book' -- The Times
'The Devil's Footsteps is convincing, occasionally disturbing and
-- The Herald
'Thrilling, haunting and provocative' -- Scotland on Sunday
'Undeniably entertaining throughout' -- The Sunday Telegraph
`No novel since this author's last one has made you this chill in
the bone...snowlit and morally courageous book' -- Scottish Review of Books - Rev'd Candia McWillian
`this engaging and well-written novel, which reads almost as a
piece of folklore' -- Big Issue Big Issue
A breathtaking novel by the author of A Lie About My Father.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Michael tells his story very precisely. There is self-depracating humour; wisdom; and absolutely no feeling for other people. He interacts with others, often quite normally, but seems to have avoided close friendships with his peers, assisted in no small measure by his parents' failure to be accepted into the small Scottish fishing community into which they had moved. There are tales of bullying, alienation, loneliness.
John Burnside plays loose and fast with timelines, carefully withholding information until it can be dropped into the story just late enough for the reader to have to reappraise the previous sections. It's not a particularly unreliable narrator - if anything, Michael is abnormally reliable - it's just the sequencing is done with particularly devastating effect. The story itself is of a very ordinary, normal person who has occasionally done things that are not normal. But always, the explanations are clear and the rational is logical. There's a heavy dose of self pity, but the feeling is that Michael is basically a pretty decent guy. This is impressive, since Michael does one or two things that are pretty far from decent. Hence there is a delightful conflict of emotions as the story unfolds.
The language is very plain and very clear, but at the same time exquisitely beautiful. John Burnside evokes the landscape, the town and the people so very clearly. It's so understated, but quite perfect. Poetic without being flowery.
It would be difficult to say more without giving away the book's secrets. That would be a shame; it's not a long read and it deserves to be uncovered layer by layer.
Lately I've been reading quite a few books, fiction and non-fiction, about father-son relationships, and John Burnside's novel is one of the most fascinating. No doubt a good deal of the book is autobiographical, for the dust jacket tells us that the same author's memoir A Lie About My Father `appeared in 2006 to enormous critical acclaim.'
Be that as it may, the father in The Devil's Footprints is not at the centre of the story, which is a first person narrative of a recluse whose family attempt to settle in Coldhaven, where an atmosphere of hostility threatens their family life. `I don't want to say there was some kind of concerted action, some plot,' says Michael Gardiner, the narrator, `because they hated one another just as much as they hated people like my parents.' The malice that seems to dog Michael's life is all the more mysterious because it is non-specific, felt rather than explained by any act, though there are plenty of violent acts, including at least two murders.
But this is no detective thriller with the reader being asked to identify motive or track down cause and effect. Much of the hostility is gratuitous and quite possibly mainly in Michael's own psyche. While the father accepts that the locals are `all right ...they're different from us, I'll give you that. They have different - ideas,' John, a friend with an interest in the local landscape, wants to know more. `My father took a moment to think about it, then launched into one of his wordy, mock-serious analyses.Read more ›
It also woke up a feeling in me that inspired me to write. A good book to read if you've forgotten who you are, and are lost in a life you're not sure why you're living.
It is well-written and has some interesting insights into the modern day psyche. The only fault I found was that I was looking for more action - this is a very internal book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had been meaning to read this book for a long time, ever since I saw a review in The Times. It is not what the title supposed it to be, and rather a strange story.Published on 1 Jan. 2011 by d hunt
I thought this short Burnside novel was really wonderful. Intriguing, haunting, nail-biting, entertaining and written in the most wonderful pared back poetic prose. Read morePublished on 5 April 2008 by Giles B