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This Bleeding City [Paperback]

Alex Preston
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

The shattering novel of one man swept away in the turmoil of emotional, financial and moral boom and bust.

Charlie Wales is a young man who wants everything. Fresh from University, he's seduced by the excitement of a new life in London and all that it promises. There's Vero, the beautiful French girl who might finally fall for him. There's the lure of art, but also the promise of fast money in the City. And his friends, who are spiralling into a world of non-stop parties and unchecked greed. But as the choices begin to tear him apart, there's also the danger that all the things he desires are on the brink of crashing around him ...

This debut novel, written by a 30-year-old trader, does not merely pick over the carcass of the financial markets in the wake of the recent crash. It is also a heartbreaking love story, a withering study of the years of excess, and a timely reminder of how good people end up doing terrible things.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571251706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571251704
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 511,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alex Preston was born in 1979 and lives with his family in London. His first novel, This Bleeding City, won the Spear's Best First Book Award and the Edinburgh International Festival Readers' First Book Award and was selected for Waterstone's New Voices 2010. It has been translated into twelve languages.

His second novel, The Revelations, published by Faber in February 2012, tells the story of a group of young people who fall into a sinister religious movement. It was named as one of GQ's "100 Best Things in the World" and was one of the Financial Times' 2012 Fiction Picks.

His latest book, In Love and War, is set in 1930's Italy.

Alex appears regularly on BBC television and radio and writes for GQ, Harper's Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as for the Observer's New Review.

He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Kent and regular Guardian Masterclasses.

Alex loves: WG Sebald, JM Coetzee, Donna Tartt, Alan Hollinghurst, Roberto Bolaño, Don Paterson, Anne Michaels, JD Salinger.

Product Description


'Alex Preston ... is to be commended for offering us 'This Bleeding City', a novel that tells us a few warm emotional truths behind a cold news story, the human tale of how it can all go wrong ... the angry rants to be found in recent works that deal with the financial crisis (such as the scattergun vitriol of Ben Elton's 'Meltdown' and the better-calibrated, angry-outsider narrative of Sebastian Faulks' 'A Week in December') don't tell the human story anywhere near as well as Preston does ... [his] take is more nuanced ... enjoyable and worth reading for the narrative drive. Preston's style is both spare and rich, brutal and deft. He conjures exquisitely desolated cityscapes ... may he continue to shine a light on the giant, scary engine that is modern capitalism.' --Financial Times

'Preston ... has pulled off something undeniably magnetic with his first novel ... [he] is a gifted writer, with a talent for dragging the eye along the page through sharply realized images and a terse intensity of emotion ... intensely gripping - even upsetting - from the first, and if you still have the stomach for a tale about the despair that materialism can bring, then you will lap this novel up.' --City AM

'Preston's debut novel could inaugurate a whole genre dedicated to fiscal calamity ... it is a tribute to Preston that he manages to pull off the considerable feat of arousing sympathy for Charlie ... [his] style often impresses. Striking metaphors and acute observations are strewn through his pages ... this is a novel of admirable ambition.' --Independent

Book Description

The shattering novel of one man swept away in the turmoil of emotional, financial and moral boom and bust.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really, really, bad. 13 Jan 2011
By PlumOse
I'm afraid I'm writing this review because I found this book appalling. I couldn't believe it made it past the editor.

I tracked it down because I'm a twentysomething who had the option to try for a job in the City, didn't, and still wonders 'What if...?' So the subject matter appealed to me.

But there are major issues with the characterisation and general writing of this book. I agree fully with another reviewer here, who pointed out that the characters just don't talk like real people do. Instead, every character launches into long, awkward monologues that sound more like stream-of-consciousness essays, all written by the same person. Almost nothing in the choice of words or sentences even reflects real-life dialogue. It's incredibly jarring, and makes it almost impossible to believe in any of the characters as being realistic.

Instead, it comes across like the author badly wants to make a story that's a cross between Wall Street and The Sorrows of Young Werther, but just doesn't have the ability. Whimsical, pseudo-poetic prose, lines like, "I splashed water on my face. There was something cinematic in my dripping gaze as I stared at the mirror." Really, something cinematic, *really*? That's as good as it gets throughout the whole novel- vague imagery and shallow allusions. The author's clearly got some dark feelings about working in the City, but they are clumsily pasted over the story.

Instead from start to finish, there's just this overall, constant tone of unchanging depression and terrible, entirely hollow profundity. First person narration can make a protagonist sound very bland, unless their motivations, feelings, and growth as a character are borne in mind. In this book, they are not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Reactions 15 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Initially I didn't think this book would interest me, the subject matter is something I find very dull but I was curious to see what it was like as I've met the author. As predicted, I wasn't overly enthralled by the stock markets and the crash but what did interest me was the characters. Charlie is, not to mince words here, a cruel and heartless bastard. He comes across as a good man and I actually think he wants to be one but he consistently manages to throw his life down the toilet, hurting as many people along the way as humanly possible. He has so many chances to be happy and he messes it up. I think the last time I was this angry with a fictional character it was Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. I need say no more there!
In my opinion, any book that provokes such a strong reaction in me against someone who doesn't exist, is a pretty good piece of work. I've read a lot of books which were nice enough but didn't leave me feeling anything in particular at the end. When I finished this I was a mixed bag of emotions - Angry, dissatisfied, disgusted, expectant, and also a little pleased that Charlie's story ended the way it did.
True, I didn't like quite a few of the characters, but I don't think we're necessarily meant to. And whoever said that only likeable characters and books make good writing? Certainly not me.
If you're the sort of person that likes a book to really take you over and completely toy with your emotions then this is well worth a read.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful. Awful. Awful. 11 July 2011
This is, without doubt, the worst book I have ever read. That is not a trite or throwaway remark. It is a sincere statement of fact. This book is stunningly bad. Truly, gut-wrenchingly ghastly. I initially only read past the first few pages to see if it would improve, but it didn't. In the end, I actually forced myself to read the whole thing in a kind of "willing suspension of disbelief" - namely, the disbelief that something as puerile and insipid as this ever got past an editor. It was a genuinely bizarre experience to deliberately plow through this strange book (can I even call it a "novel"?) in the knowledge that it has won awards and that other people actually think it is rather good. Perhaps I am from a different planet. If so, I hope I can return home one day, and get a few thousand light years between me and this literary car crash.

Apart from the false drama bolted on at the beginning (which - fret not dear reader - comes to absolutely nothing later in the book), the drearily predictable plot (yes, we all kind of know that the good times weren't going to last, Charles, what with the Credit Crunch coming up and all that), the most unbearable thing about this book is the interminable, utterly painful "dialogue", which gushes forth from every character major and minor in great screeds of leaden verbal vomit. It has to be read to be believed.

It's like being stuck in a lift for hours on end with a grey faced bespectacled yuppy as he drones on monotonously about his moth collection. After a while you actually stop getting annoyed, cease questioning your own sanity and a dull feeling of acceptance finally sinks in.

Charles comes from that small town in Scotland known as "Humble Origins".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Arheddis Varkenjaab TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first few chapters of this book left me cold, and gave me the impression the author had attended to many creative writing courses. Tortuous metaphors and a strangely detached style. However, I stuck with it and as the book devlops I found the style suits the mood of the book perfectly, slightly wrong, slightly awkward and reflecting the odd personality of the main character. It subtly pulls you into his world.

Quite an enjoyable book in the end too. I'm not sure if the author was trying to give city types a sympathetic slant, but if he did he failed quite convincingly. The protaganist is a dislikable man, immature and clueless, and happy to work endlessly in the quest for money. His life gets more and more unhappy as he gets closer and closer to reaching his goal of being rich, and he fails again and again to see that what he really wants is in front of him. Lots of believable characters, and a good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark yet alluding
This is a dark depressing novel about working in the City (or of a London) in the financial sector which I found pretty difficult to put down because the story intrigued me... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy read
I chose this book as I had read Revelations by Alex Preston. It was an easy read and it was OK.
Published 11 months ago by Maria
2.0 out of 5 stars This bleak city of the young
I picked this up at an op shop and thought, given the topic, and debuting author, it would or could be an interesting read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by "Belgo Geordie"
3.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant
The characters - especially the main character - are largely unpleasant. Like Self obsessed adolescents who are more than old enough to know better.
Published 17 months ago by Theo
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, but astonishingly good
I picked this up almost at random, in a hospital tea-shop, to pass the time, having never heard of either the book or the author; and found myself almost dyspnoeic with delight at... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Dr. James Austin
2.0 out of 5 stars Yes, I'm jealous
A few years back I, like Alex Preston, wrote a novel about my life experiences in a milieu I had then left. Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2012 by charlie
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Writing
What a wonderful book. A good story with very observant writing - Preston could be an English John Updike. Read more
Published on 14 July 2012 by Workers Playtime
3.0 out of 5 stars Average to very good to poor
this book interested me as i thought it offered a bit of a different tale of the city. the writer has unique style that took a while to get into but the middle part of this book... Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2012 by wynda1811
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read but you do want to punch the main character's lights out
Good read and a good description of what life was like in a hedge fund during the crash, but Charlie is such a self centred, whinging SOB that I wanted to give him a good smack in... Read more
Published on 28 Aug 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Trainspotting meets Wall Street
Maybe you don't need another review of this book. Maybe all of these reviews are wrong. Or maybe you should stop reading reviews and just buy it. Read more
Published on 24 May 2011 by Ms. C. Poole
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