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Umbrella [Kindle Edition]

Will Self
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

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Product Description


In these culturally straitened times few writers would have the artistic effrontery to offer us a novel as daring, exuberant and richly dense as Umbrella. Will Self has carried the Modernist challenge into the twenty-first century, and worked a wonder John Banville Umbrella is his best book yet ... It makes new for today the lessons taught by the morals of Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five, The Tin Drum, also M rquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold Alasdair Gray Umbrella is old-school modernism. It isn't supposed to be a breeze. But it is, to use the literary critical term of art, kind of amazing ... I think this may be Will Self's best book -- Sam Leith Observer This is by far Will Self's best novel; clever, intense, ambitious and risky. It is a novel so arch that it bends over backwards, joining together its own extremities of kindness and indifference, with and banality, of forgetting and remembering, love and loathing, first page, last page -- Tom Adair Scotsman An astonishing achievement, a novel of exhilarating linguistic invention and high moral seriousness. Certainly, he deserves to win the prize; but more significantly, this is a novel which will be read and re-read, as much for its emotional weight as its technical virtuosity ... With this book he reveals himself as the most determinedly and delightfully literary novelist of his generation -- Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday There are echoes of Joyce and Eliot, but also of Flaubert ... there is also a great deal of humour -- Brian Dillon New Statesman One cannot help recalling Joyce ... Umbrella is a magnificent celebration of modernist prose, an epic account of the first world war, a frightening investigation into the pathology of mental illness ... Self's ambition and talent have produced something of real cultural significance ... Umbrella must be recognised as, above all, a virtuoso triumph of emotional and creative intelligence -- Stig Abell, Spectator Extraordinary -- Sheena Joughin Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

Umbrella by Will Self - the Booker-shortlisted prequel to his eagerly awaited new novel Shark

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1349 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks; 1 edition (3 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008P0VA88
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #29,523 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read.... 4 Dec 2014
By Doyen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I picked this up to read on the commute to and from work, which was a mistake. This is not a book that one can easily dip in and out of, and the total immersion required to make the most of it is inconsistent with the constant distractions of a crowded train. However, this is not a criticism of the book itself, which, whilst certainly challenging at times, represents the rare combination of a compelling narrative wrapped in an artful and innovative prose style. Does it err into pretentiousness at times? Yes, in spades; but anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds listening to Will Self on almost any subject should come to this book adequately steeled for that, and while there is a certain amount of intellectual masturbation here, I found I could overlook that in my appreciation of an original and effective style. I also learned, as others on here have already said, that once you stop trying to wring some precise sense out of every word and simply let the stream of consciousness wash over you - in essence, once you start to read the book as it was written - you quickly become absorbed into the flow of the story. Overall, I found the book interesting more than enjoyable. Both my personal reading history and the literary canon generally are doubtless the richer for this book, but Umbrella is heavy going and while I appreciate the experience, it has not whetted my appetite to explore any of Self's other work any time soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One nil 24 Nov 2014
I don't know what you have to do to win a Booker prize, perhaps being the prizewinner is not all it's cracked up to be. No puns intended! This is a superb, memorable novel. Like others, I had to tune in to that droning authorial voice, with its rhythms lifting on points of the pterodactylic umbrella jab jabbing away with pokes from songs of the sixties and seventies, singin in the rain like a droog, so I would say that though my original thought was I don't think that I can take it, cos it took so long to make it, and I'll never find that recipe again Oooh no...but no, since the cake was left out in the rain etc etc you'd think an umbrella of sorts would help, but no, no, keep on reading keep on listening to the magisterial Self, in its manifold ent-titties, collusions, betrayals, effloozhuns and tricky trick tricks, and don't blink, blink too quickly or shall we say in a mechanick-all fashion or you will not see/saw all that there was not to be, scene. Yes.
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126 of 156 people found the following review helpful
By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER
Will Self's "Umbrella" spans a century taking three interwoven strands. One features Audrey Dearth, who in 1918 is a munitions worker who falls ill with encephalitis lethargica, a brain disease that spread over Europe after the Great War rendering many of its victims speechless and motionless. She is incarcerated in Friern hospital where, in the early 1970s a psychiatrist, Zach Busner wakes her from her stupor using a new drug. In the final thread, in 2010 the asylum has closed and the now retired Busner travels across north London seeking the truth about his encounter with his former patient. While that sounds like a fascinating story in its own right, be warned. Self's approach is ambitiously modernistic making this a very heavy going tome even by Self's standards.

Stream of consciousness books can be challenging but good, non-linear books can be confusing but illuminating. Taken together though they are a mess that no amount of clever word play can rescue.

The narrative is a stream of consciousness epic that doesn't break for silly ideas like chapters, or even many paragraphs, most of which last for two or three pages each. Similarly there is no chronological development or discernable structure and time frames and points of view are spliced together, often within the same paragraph. Most of us don't have the luxury of endless hours in which to read and have to fit reading in around life, necessitating putting a book down at some point. Quite where you are supposed to do this in "Umbrella" is a bit of a mystery. Although picking the book up again was more of a challenge than putting it down.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself in Self 5 Feb 2014
This modernist and stream of consciousness novel will not be to everyone's taste. If you need the 'permission' of a chapter end to stop reading, then either don't read this book, or start reading it surrounded by extensive supplies of food and drink and with a toilet close at hand. There are no chapters, no parts, not even a few handy blank lines, just a constant flow of sentences. Treat these sentences like a wonderful word tapestry being woven by Audrey Death, her brother Stanley and Dr Zach Busner, using threads from Edwardian London, the horrors of the World War 1 trenches, and 1970s & 1990s London, and you can start to relax and comprehend what Self is trying to say. I fought this book initially, wanting desperately to understand who and when I was in each sentence before moving onto the next one. In the end, I learnt to absorb long sections and trust that afterwards I would have a sense of what had happened in each of the story lines, which ultimately are one story line.

It's hard work, but worth every moment if you want to reflect on how we are so careless with our fellow human beings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but not Gripping.....(?)
I love Will Self's books, but this one took me ages to read, for some reason. When I was reading it, I really enjoyed it, but it simply didn't grip me. Strange.....
Published 2 days ago by davelektor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters; great review of humanity and fantastic imagery
Well it's not the easiest read, but if you go with the flow you will be rewarded. Great characters; great review of humanity and fantastic imagery. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Whitewood
2.0 out of 5 stars The language used is somewhat arcane and quite frankly unnecessary.
I know Mr Self is an incredibly clever man but I found this book far too confusing. It jumps around from character to character in a way that is not clear. Read more
Published 1 month ago by T. Taylor
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible book, impossible to read
Terrible book, impossible to read, I have given it to a number of friends, (all avid readers), to try and read and nobody has been able to finish it.
Published 2 months ago by kay hester
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific. You need to concentrate but it is very ...
Terrific. You need to concentrate but it is very rewarding and very inventive.
Published 3 months ago by M. Parker
1.0 out of 5 stars This was warmly recommended to me by a friend so I bought a ...
This was warmly recommended to me by a friend so I bought a copy. But I'm sorry, I couldn't even finish it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dolores Amazon customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough going at first until you get into the swing of it
This book is like tackling a big, steep hill on a push bike, ideally you want a good run up before you get to the incline. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Spiderlung
4.0 out of 5 stars well written and engrosing
Well written and a good insight into psychiatry in the 60's. The characters are excellently drawn. Although I feared it might be heavy, I was gripped and am glad I read it.
Published 8 months ago by Highdreamer
1.0 out of 5 stars WTF--?
Having read "Umbrella", I'm still dependent on the jacket blurb to know what it's about.

The Emperor-author Self has no literary clothes in this "novel"... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. R. H. A. Wenner
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside out
What can I say about this extraordinary novel. I finished it after much hard slog,disappointed in myself that I didn't put in more effort getting there. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Andy Vizor
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