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The Sensationist Hardcover – 17 Jan 1991


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (17 Jan. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022402891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224028912
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 587,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Charles Palliser was born in America but has spent most of his adult life in Britain. He took a degree at Oxford and has taught English Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow since 1974. His first novel, The Quincunx, was published by Canongate in 1989.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 22 Nov. 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The novels of Mr. Palliser generally are closer to, or well in excess of 500 hundred pages. Having been through, "The Quincunx" and "The Unburied", I found, "The Sensationist", at a miniscule 153 pages and thought I had stumbled upon another Author of the same name. That this is certainly not the case is readily apparent when the reading begins.

A male protagonist obsessed with encounters with women that are unknown to him until they become the object of his brief amusement, is not a new idea. Mr. Palliser puts his own mark on this theme with an easily unlikable predatory male named David. More interesting than David and his cliché lifestyle is the structure of the narrative as it presents the story in what would generally be considered sound bytes if spoken. Not only is the information delivered sparingly, it's also vague on detail and delivered in a staccato blitz. This is primarily the case with everything outside of his physical encounters, but even they tend to be abbreviated once the conquest is at hand. The chase is all that matters; a woman he invites to spend the evening is someone he resents for being in his presence in the morning.

David has another vice that is for readers to puzzle over which eventually will contribute to his slide downward from a comfortable life, just as the building in which he lives is literally settling at an angle, and threatens to eventually travel down hill like the rest of his world. Mr. Palliser eventually takes David down, however it is not as you might expect or have read in the past. His fall does arrive and it is brutal even beyond what he perhaps deserved. There is of course a victim but it is not the one that is expected.

The book initially put me off, as I am a great admirer of his longer, complex, period pieces. The book quickly will change a reader's mind, for it is clever, uniquely presented, and like all of this man's work, brilliantly executed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Clifford on 9 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is remarkable for being the author's second novel, following `The Quincunx', a huge novel set in the past, and for it being of a completely different character, being short, terse to the point of near-abstraction, and set in a credibly contemporary, though acidly bleak, time and location. Its central character is rightly described as an `opportunist seducer', and the writing is often erotic, albeit in a detached way, when he slips into this role. The setting is essentially urban decay, allowing resonances with the disintegration of human relationships and the tendency of characters to follow a well-marked slippery path into sex, drugs and money-making. I found this book very stimulating, both emotionally and in its suggestion of a wealth of human interaction situations that might be taken up by other writers, in other genres, and indeed possibly useful in other art forms. A remarkable book.
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By tim and jane on 4 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
predictably titillating but not very interesting. Loved Quincunx. It all seems a long time ago. should try another I think
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Thousand Pages Short 8 Jun. 2001
By taking a rest - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The novels of Mr. Palliser generally are closer to or well in excess of 500 hundred pages. Having been through, "The Quincunx" and "The Unburied", I found, "The Sensationist", and at a miniscule 153 pages and thought I had stumbled upon another Author of the same name. That this is certainly not the case is readily apparent when the reading begins.
A male protagonist obsessed with encounters with women that are unknown to him until they become the object of his brief amusement, is not a new idea. Mr. Palliser puts his own mark on this theme with an easily unlikable predatory male named David. More interesting than David and his cliché lifestyle is the structure of the narrative as it presents the story in what would generally be considered sound bites if spoken. Not only is the information delivered sparingly, it's also vague on detail and delivered in a staccato blitz. This is primarily the case with everything outside of his physical encounters, but even they tend to be abbreviated once the conquest is at hand. The chase is all that matters, a woman he invites to spend the evening is someone he resents for being in his presence in the morning.
David has another vice that is for readers to puzzle over which eventually will contribute to his slide down from a comfortable life just as the building in which he lives is literally settling at an angle, and threatens to eventually travel down hill like the rest of his world. Mr. Palliser eventually takes David down, however it is not as you might expect or have read in the past. His fall does arrive and it is brutal even beyond what he perhaps deserved. There is of course a victim but it is not the one that is expected.
The book initially put me off, as I am a great admirer of his longer complex period pieces. The book quickly will change a reader's mind for it is clever, uniquely presented, and like all of this man's work, brilliantly executed.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a neglected masterpiece 18 Sept. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to say where this novel comes from; Paliser's other works are overlong, mannered, deliberately artificial. The writing here is as natural as breathing, the narrative voice as quietly devastating as the voice of our own conscience. A young man in a cold, unnamed foreign city works feverishly at an unspecified technical job. As things fall apart for him at work he embarks on a doomed affair with a disturbed artist. It's all over in little more than a hundred pages; the impact lasts a lifetime. This is one of the few convincing love stories ever written as well as a chilling indictment of a frenetic, work-driven, utterly alienating society. The Sensationist is an unrepeatable masterpiece and one of the best novels I've ever read.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Plangent... 15 Dec. 2000
By Eric Brotheridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Plangent, a new vocabulary word which I picked up from this book, and a good description of the story. Very Calvino-ish, yet different. Imagine short, descriptive vignettes of the unfolding of a relationship set in a uncaring city that is all about work, work, work. Selfishness and selflessness are examined in soundbites that, in the end, come together as a whole and in a completely satisfying way. Who loses in this kind of a world, our world? The adults seeking love for personal gratification or the children that live in the periphery? Or both? This short, one-night read, unlike any Victorian, plot-twisters which Palliser has written, goes deep.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A strange book 23 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had loved Palliser's "The Quincunx" and "Betrayals", but found that books far less interesting and original. One couldn't recognize Palliser's style... However, the way he depicts a cold, indifferent Northern city (probably Glasgow) and its inhabitants is interesting.
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