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Untorn Tickets [Paperback]

Paul Burke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 2002

Notting Hill - 1978. Dave Kelly and Andy Zymanczyk are two teenage boys trying to escape their secure, loving but oppressive Catholic backgrounds. Andy's life is even more stifling as the only child of very strict Polish parents. For the first time in his life, he is allowed to take a part-time job, and begins work at the beautiful Odeon cinema in Westbourne Grove, under the irresponsible but charismatic influence of the manager Tony Harris. The two friends begin a voyage of discovery: they learn about films, they learn about music, they learn about life and are exposed to a level of freedom and temptation that neither has ever known before.

But in an era of great upheaval, their beloved cinema and their strict Catholic grammar school are both put under threat and they realise that their lives will never be the same again.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340793473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340793473
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Paul Burke's Untorn Tickets is a warm, humorous and, in places, touching novel about growing up in west London at the fag end of the 1970s. Andy Zymancyk and Dave Kelly are the teenage offspring of, respectively, staunchly Catholic Polish and Irish families. Both are pupils of St Bede's Roman Catholic Grammar School for Boys, an institution whose "manifesto of academic and sporting excellence, religious fervour and iron discipline" is described by its pedagogic headmaster, Father "Johnny Mac" McLafferty, as "work hard, play hard and pray hard". Luckily part-time jobs in Westbourne Grove's Gaumont Cinema provide the boys with rather a different kind of education. Taken under the wing of its flamboyant, tuxedo-wearing manager, Tony Harris, they are introduced to the seamier side of "The Grove". While a scam, devised by Dave, to resell "untorn tickets" and recycle coke cups helps to augment their meagre wages--just the thing when old soul 45s, mod suits, Vespa scooters, Ford Continas and girls appear infinitely more interesting than school work and Catholic piety.

At the cinema, Dave also meets and falls in love with Rachel, a glamorous Jewish girl, who, like him, craves freedom from unquestioning religious conformity. Andy too is in love only, unfortunately, he is infatuated with his cousin, Alison. With schemes afoot to transform St Bede's sixth form into a separate college and turn the Gaumont into a bingo hall, things, romantic, educational and vocational look less than rosy. As with a few other 70s retro novels, this book suffers from product placement period detail (Argos catalogues, Brut, Opal Fruits and Revels feature throughout). Burke compounds this further by constantly trotting out dates--"In 1978, very few people had videos" or "in 1979, Sting was cool". (In direct contrast Father McLafferty’s comments about the effects of comprehensive education and Tony Harris’s faith in the resurgence of cinema appear--in 1979--so farsighted as to be practically prophetic.) There is however, a good deal of charm here. Burke is often an extremely witty tender, writer. Although sometimes he’s clumsy with his material, he does succeed in evoking the era and capturing the frisson of adolescence.--Travis Elborough


'FATHER FRANK is a warm, funny, blisteringly good read that has the angels on its side' - Tony Parsons on Father Frank

'A dazzling first novel - funny, thoughtful and original' - Stephen Fry on Father Frank

'The only novel I've ever read that tackles the fundamental issues of God, Irishness, advertising, love and cab driving all at once. Fast-moving, witty and highly digestible, it slips down like a fresh Eucharist wafer' - Tim Lott on Father Frank

'Intriguing...irresistible' - Adele Parks on Father Frank

'The feel-good factor of an Ealing comedy and some beautifully executed one-liners' Scotland on Sunday on Father Frank

'Original and comedic...very cool, very pithy' - Express on Father Frank

'Warm, tender, funny and engaging from start to finish. It's full of sharply-written dialogue, filled with characters you can take to your heart, and driven by a classic will they/won't they narrative' -Scotsman on Father Frank

'A light-hearted comic novel with the feel-good factor of an Ealing comedy, and some cracking one-liners' - Greg Eden, Bertrams in The Bookseller on Father Frank

An endearing and captivating book (Scootering)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another success. 14 Aug 2002
I must admit I approached this book with some trepidation as I was (am) a big fan of Father Ted and Paul Burkes' gentle humour.
But I need not have worried, because if anything this is better. A finely woven plot full of wonderful characters based in a London that the author obviously holds real affection for.
A writer well worthy of the comparisons to Tony Parsons and NIck Hornby that are currently being made.
And, perhaps more importantly, a book that's a real pleasure to read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To be Frank - it's even better 6 Sep 2002
Paul Burke, author of the hugely entertaining Father Frank, has done it again. Another razor-sharp observation of London-based Catholics growing up in the 1970s.
This time Paul stays longer in the era that brought the Mod revival to the fore. As well as two strong central characters, Paul weaves in some delightful tales about their time at what seems to have been a totally loopy grammar school. It could almost have been my own.
As with Father Frank, this was a real 'couldn't put it down' book. Just don't tell the Pope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ticket Inspection 31 Oct 2002
Paul has perfectly captured that late-seventies era of Mod revival, Two-Tone, Saturday Night Fever & Grease in this offering. But where did he draw the inspiration for the monster of the school caretaker, and some of the other rich, larger than life characters he has skilfully woven into the story.
I think most 40 years+ London Catholic school educated people will empathise with the hopes and fears expressed by the central characters in the novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostaglia in a nutshell 6 Sep 2002
An excellently crafted book - full of memories for those of us who grew up in the 1970's. If Four Weddings can make it to the big screen then this surely must follow suit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First Father Frank, now another gem from Paul Burke. Reading Untorn Tickets resulted in the proverbial suppressed hysteria on the London Underground as I went to work, even 97 degrees heat could not dampen my enjoyment! Andy and Dave, the two protagonists are hilarious and utterly real, the Polish milieu and mores faithfully replicated in all their ethnic eccentricity.
Paul Burke has the great gift of being able to write simply, succintly and funnily, his books are a joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming - but not soppy 4 Feb 2009
By Barmee
I really enjoyed this book. For the first 2 or 3 chapters I had my doubts as the author seems to be on a Catholic bashing exercise (I'm not Catholic by the way) however it soon becomes obvious this is mere scene setting and the book is actually very even handed. I won't spoil the plot for you ... suffice it to say that this book is in many ways the 'High Fidelity' (Nick Hornby)for those who enjoy the cinema (and music!). If you were a teenager in the 1970's you will identify with much of this book (and if you were not a teen in the 70's don't let that put you off as it could still work if set today). On one level it is a book about a scam and it has you worried for (and envious of) the lead players all the way through - however it is much more than that: a gentle comedy, a love story, a book about how your school-days were NOT the best years of your life and a book about the journey from being a boy (and indeed being a girl) and suddenly finding you are a grown up. It won't spoil it to say it has a happy ending. It really should become a film (for a whole variety of reasons that will become obvious as you turn the final pages). If it ever does can I be in it please?!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encore une fois... 1 Oct 2002
By A Customer
Having thoroughly enjoyed Father Frank, I excitedly seized on this second offering from Mr Burke and I am delighted to say that I was not disappointed.
His drawing of characters, Andy and his family, the luscious Rachel and the fabulous Tony Harris (surely another book about him should be in the offing), proved another wonderful example of an in-depth knowledge of the world about which he writes.
For a man who spends his time in the lightweight easily digestible world of writing advertising, Mr Burke shows a remarkable depth of sensitivity that one would not normally associate with such a background. I recommend this to you without reservation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shared Memories of school - from Singapore 13 Sep 2002
Another brilliant work by Paul Burke. I thoroughly enjoyed Father Frank but Untorn Tickets was not put down until finished. This book has really uncovered many memories for me as I attended a Catholic Grammar school at around this time or shortly before in a geographical location not so far geographically from St Bede's.
The depictations of the masters at the school have re-kindled emotions that I thought were buried for a long time and the friendships and family ties written about were truely humourous and touching.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone in the 30 - 50 year age range, especially if they have themselves "enjoyed" a similar sentence at such a school.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Untorn Tickets - A Very Enjoyable Reaf
Untorn Tickets a very enjoyable read I could relate to the Dave charachter and the Irish Family background captured the time it was set in very well.
Published 11 months ago by Tigerclaw
1.0 out of 5 stars The only book I've ever considered putting in the bin
Absolutely terrible writing. It's like really bad Nick Horny. A few good songs mentioned in there, but that's about all it's got going for it. Read more
Published on 11 July 2008 by R. Downes
4.0 out of 5 stars a perfect evocation of cinema in the late 1970's
I picked this book up in the local library, because of the title and having read it am now about to buy my own copy. Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2006 by B. Dowell
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny
This book was really funny throughout with a really good ending. It was very realistic to life then and especially in relation to the cinema and how they made their money with the... Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2005 by "fionabm"
2.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed and not very funny
Looking at the other reader reviews I seem to be alone in my opinion of this book. I loved Father Frank and so was extremely disappointed to not enjoy this book. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2004 by pboropixie
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a writer to watch!
Again a thoroughly good read,elegant,insightful and humourous.If all writers were this good we would spend much of our time reading.
Published on 15 Jan 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Never wanted the book to end...
I just loved this second book by the talented, witty and charming Mr.Burke.
He was able to captivate my attention from beginning to end and I was unable to put the book down,... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2002
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