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The Picture of Contented New Wealth: a Metaphysical Horror (Zero Books) [Paperback]

Tariq Goddard
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Sep 2009 Zero Books
Joint Winner of 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award Horror category. In the brilliant red doom of a Hampshire Sunset Brigit Conti can hear a voice behind her ears that is not her own. Bed-bound, and complaining of a rare bone disease that no Doctor can diagnose, her husband fears that the house they have purchased is a portal through which an older, more malign energy has passed, possessing his wife and son. Through their successive deterioration his secular and agnostic world-view undergoes a metamorphosis, drawing him to a strange man from the hills: the Rector, their unlikely saviour. Or are he and his family merely victims of their own self-serving yuppie way of life? "You Were The Picture of Contented New Wealth" is a gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties, bringing proper characterisation and a literary sensibility to the traditional horror story. It's mix of generic elements and mystical realism deal with the irreducibility of evil and its successful normalisation in to our daily and dominant reality.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: O Books (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846942705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846942709
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 890,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A pacy, poised and undeniably exciting debut...a teat bleakly humorous, well written adventure --Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Goddard's eye is for irony and disaster, a potent thriller, driven by unravelling the neuroses of his characters as much as by uncovering the politics behind their predicament. --Observer

Goddard's highly impressive debut mixes a black comic tone reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino and Graham Greene, a cracking good read. --Mail on Sunday

Goddard's eye is for irony and disaster, a potent thriller, driven by unravelling the neuroses of his characters as much as by uncovering the politics behind their predicament. --Observer

Goddard's highly impressive debut mixes a black comic tone reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino and Graham Greene, a cracking good read. --Mail on Sunday

About the Author

Tariq Goddard was born in London in 1975. He read Philosophy at King's College London, and Continental Philosophy at The University of Warwick and the University of Surrey. In 2002 his first novel, 'Homage to Firing Squad' was nominated for the Whitbread (Costa) Prize and the Wodehouse-Bollinger Comic Writing Award. He was included as one of Waterstones "Faces of the Future", and the novel, whose film rights were sold, was listed as one of the Observer's Four debuts of the year. In 2003 his second novel, 'Dynamo', was cited as one of the ten best sports novels of all time by Observer Sport's Magazine. 'The Morning Rides Behind Us', his third novel was released in 2005 and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Fiction. He lives with his partner on a farm in Wiltshire where he is writing his new novel, 'The Message'.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contented with it, though not possessed 22 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Picture Of Contented New Wealth" is essentially a metaphysical philosophical discourse using the allegory of demonic spirit possession of the wife and child of the wealthy and materialistic Conti and the Tyger Tyger house where they live.

It's told in an allegorical folk-tale style, populated by characters with names such as Conti (the Yuppie) Bliss (the Shrink), Stack (who does the filing), the eccentric Hatters, Mr Squeers (likes young boys), Mr Crook (Vicar) Raffle (smokes Silk Cut), and so on - a Colonel Mustard wouldn't have gone amiss in this line-up. All of the characters with the exception of the possessed woman and son, the mysterious exorcist (The Rector) and perhaps the housekeeper, are portrayed pretty much as the empty vessels they are.

The author creates a highly enjoyable portrayal of the behaviour of the possessed mother and child both during their possession and the subsequent exorcism, while the other characters react to the bizarre goings on by reflecting back on their own lives, loves, desires and wealth.

The message of the mind as something free from the body and the material cosmos of which it is a part, and the fact that Conti realises that it's the non-corporeal mind of his wife he's trying to rescue and can't just buy everything better, and of course the subtler references and further discussion that could be had, is for me personally almost incidental to a witty and reference-loaded story of a possession and exorcism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I read this swiftly, in two sittings. Highly enjoyable stuff, tongue slipping into cheek somewhat in certain parts. The lyrics of Mark E. Smith (The Fall), notably from 'Spectre Vs. Rector', intrude occasionally. Indeed, the novel takes its point of departure from this song. Yuppies, migrating from the city into the isolated Tyger Tyger House - one of the great haunted houses of supernatural fiction, surely - encounter a fascinating and seductive demonic power. The spectre takes possession of the woman of the house, Brigit, apparently having opened her up to its influence years prior through the medium of Deleuzian theory (brilliant!!!) and the only hope lies with The Rector ('came from the hills-ah!'). Highly recommended. Sludge Hai Choi!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this but could be better edited 26 Feb 2010
By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Got this book after I heard the author on the Radio 4 Saturday morning magazine programme, it sounded intriguing and on the whole was a very good read. I did find it difficult to get into - I think the author has been let by down the editing and proof reading of his material. There are a fair number of glitches, for example repeated or wrong words and sloppy comma use, especially in speech, which rather spoiled the effect at first, distracting me from the story. At one stage I was near giving up, which would have been a shame - 50 or so pages in, it began to grip me - the twist for me is that none of the characters are sympathetic at all! They really are a bunch of selfish, unpleasant types yet it's compelling to see them struggle to cope with the presence of evil - the evil that possesses Brigit - and try to come to terms with and understand something that is simply outside their frame of reference.

There are some jarring notes. We are told, rather than being shown, a great deal about the characters, so sections of the book read rather like short lectures. However, the atmosphere of horror is well done, and the ending satisfying without being too neat (a few puzzles are left). Overall, a quirky horror story, with many of the traditional spooky props but with a modern tone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zero tolerance. And about time. 1 April 2010
Format:Paperback
The first thing to salute is the Zero Books manifesto printed at the end of this brilliant story. It's a crystallisation of everything you might have felt, being as we are, victims of the bossy, conservative morons who now call the shots in publishing. Goddard's trashing of the new marketeers and their lacklustre risk-free approach to their business is a joy; the overpaid stewards of cultural neglect are given a proper spanking. And not before time. Not that they'll read it.

This is a 5-star book, and like the rest of this author's stories, you feel involved from first page: the time, the place, the characters and their particular world and its smells and texture are introduced with wicked ease. It's 1986. It's set in one of that decade's most pampered backwaters, and you know you're goimg to hate everybody. But you also know you're gonna love the book. Especially when you read with disbelief, the introduction to the unfortunate Brigit, whose possession is manifested to her brother as a soundscape of a noisy farmyard.

You don't hate everybody, of course, and you will soon meet The Rector, a fine, complicated and raddled exorcist who, you feel, could become a Gothic hero in his own right, were more nightmares available for him to inhabit. It's strewn with descriptive sentences, that although you want to read again just for the sheer thrill, they don't interrupt the narrative flow. I noticed a kind of Iris Murdoch paucity of commas sometimes, but to me this was only an occasional trick to disarm a thought that would hold us up. As an excellent reviewer noticed, there along with hardcore historical and personal philosophy, is homage to Mark E Smith.

We're in safe hands again with this book, written by someone who's a gifted and exemplary storyteller.
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