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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete nonsense but strangely compelling
Henderson is a quintessential Englishman living in New York and thi situation is used to its maximum all through this novel. It seems as though Boyd is trying to bundle up a basket of all typical English characteristics into one person - tough task but he makes a pretty good job of it. You will manage to recognise a bit of yourself somewhere in Henderson.
There are...
Published on 29 Sept. 2012 by Janie U

versus
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not William Boyd's best
This is a strange one, and very different to other novels by William Boyd. It's laugh-out-loud funny in some places, but I couldn't help feeling some of the jokes were just obvious cheap shots that I would have thought were below a writer of Boyd's calibre. For once I really didn't care what happened to the main character, and the "laughs" were hardly more than cringes...
Published on 20 Oct. 2002


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete nonsense but strangely compelling, 29 Sept. 2012
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
Henderson is a quintessential Englishman living in New York and thi situation is used to its maximum all through this novel. It seems as though Boyd is trying to bundle up a basket of all typical English characteristics into one person - tough task but he makes a pretty good job of it. You will manage to recognise a bit of yourself somewhere in Henderson.
There are many cultural references scattered throughout and the irreverant background of art is used to illustrate that art is not serious compared to everything else in life. The book was written in the eighties and does not seem to have aged particularly, although there are a few technological and social advances which are noticeable - mobile phones would have made Hendersons life much easier, it also seems odd to have smoking on planes and in restaurants....
When the book takes to the road, more opportunities are available, and are taken, to show the contrasts between the landscapes of UK and USA, all through the neurotic eyes of our protagonist.
As the reader, you view the absurdities of the American characters through an extreme English man, making them often "laugh out loud" funny. The people are pretty much all taken in characiture which takes away any empathy you may have had for them, but it does make for a fun read. Henderson has a self deprecating attitude which makes him appear very funny as well.
I didn't expect this to be such a comedic novel but it was. Bit of a odd one bunt well worth reading.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not William Boyd's best, 20 Oct. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
This is a strange one, and very different to other novels by William Boyd. It's laugh-out-loud funny in some places, but I couldn't help feeling some of the jokes were just obvious cheap shots that I would have thought were below a writer of Boyd's calibre. For once I really didn't care what happened to the main character, and the "laughs" were hardly more than cringes by the end.
May be worth reading out of interest if you're a Boyd fan, as its style is completely different from that found in e.g. Brazzaville Beach, The New Confessions, or The Blue Afternoon - all of which I loved - but unfortunately this one doesn't really engage, entertain, or move the reader... fortunately he returned to form after this novel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars (and Bars), 5 Nov. 2011
By 
Dave Gilmour's cat (on Dave Gilmour's boat) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
Stars and Bars is not as good as Boyd's later work. It's an ambitious book, with a lot in it, but as a satire it never quite works. The 'Englishman in America' thing was done so much more cleverly (and funnily) by Martin Amis in Money. The art-dealer material is interesting, as are the various relationships that unfold throughout the novel, but much of the satire falls flat. The scenes in the 'luxury' high-concept hotel are amusing enough as farce but feel bolted on. And the crooks seem one-dimensional. A writer such as Elmore Leonard would have made them multi-faceted and given them great lines to speak. The sub-plot about the protagonist's quest to find out what happened to his father in the war is also interesting, but somehow doesn't really belong here.

This is not to say Stars and Bars in a bad book. There are some laughs, and the running-through-New-York scene towards the end is very compelling. Plus, Boyd raises some big issues about human nature, happiness, belonging and identity.

If you are curious about W.B., start with Ordinary Thunderstorms or maybe Any Human Heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars STARS AND BARS, 18 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
The cover conveys little of what is in the book ; although we have the oh-so-English boater against a backdrop of US yellow cabs as a prompt, it is all a bit subtle.

Although the Englishman living in the States throws up all kinds of amusing situations, the nature of the humour is rather unchanging so it is losing impact towards the end of the book.

But generally good light hearted entertainment
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Zencing" in the USA, 29 May 2001
By 
T. BRANNEY (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
This witty analysis of the foibles of both the English and American characters sees art dealer (and Zen fencing student) Henderson Dores stranded in nowheres-ville USA.
Much cultural misunderstading ensues, whilst the plot increasingly contrives to lead our hero into ever deeper trouble.
As is often mentioned in connection with Boyd's novels, this is an easy read, and a real page-turner. 'Stars & Bars' won't change your life, but it's sure to make you smile.
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3.0 out of 5 stars On the cusp of a 4 star rating!, 2 Sept. 2012
By 
Manda Moo (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
I have read a few books by Boyd before and have rated Any Human Heart as 5/5 - since then I have read The Blue Afternoon, New Confessions and this, but none of them have lived up to Any Human Heart which I really loved. In some ways I felt that Stars and Bars came closer than the other two, but still wavered between and 3 and a 4 star rating. It gripped me, I found Henderson Dores frustrating, pathetic and overly sexed (as most of Boyd's characters), but just couldn't believe a lot of the situations he found himself in.

If you're a Boyd fan I'm sure you will enjoy the normal fabulous prose and wittiness, but it's just not quite his best.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Stereotypical guff, 4 April 2013
By 
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
Boyd puts his main character into ever increasing, ludicrous situations, just to gain a laugh or even a wry smile that it stretches credulity to its limit. This book was neither funny or even slightly amusing and glad i got to the end unscathed.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escapism at it's best, 26 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
This book is one of the odder ones I've read by William Boyd but the characters are incredibly realistic.

I really like this book as I didn't see where it was going and loved the way the plot slowly evolved. I found myself getting slowly drawn in and thoroughly enjoyed not being able to predict the outcome of the book.

I love William Boyd books as I find the characters linger in my mind long after I've finished the book and love his writing style which makes the book feel it's about real people.

I'd recommend this book to anyone whoh enjoys not being able to predict what comes next and being led skillfully into a different world.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I read and loved this book as I do with all William Boyd's ..., 14 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
I read and loved this book as I do with all William Boyd's novels, many years ago. I have suggested it for my book club group for our December read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage early Boyd - thoroughly engaging, 29 July 2011
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Stars and Bars (Paperback)
Re-reading "Stars and Bars" reminds me of just what a great comic writer William Boyd was in his early novels. I don't remember getting too much out of it first time around, but coming back to his books again now after nearly 25 years', I can appreciate the craft and sheer writing skill that went into making this book such a pleasure to read.

Henderson Dores is, as other reviewers have said, pretty much a re-tread of Morgan Leafy from Boyd's earlier novel "A Good Man In Africa". There may be something slightly artificial about all of his character, and the bumbling Englishness is perhaps over-done, but there are many comic moments to enjoy and savour. The whole Brit meets US culture fiasco is handled well throughout the story, and Dores' journey to America's south captures something of the eccentricities and foibles of the people, and remains surprisingly fresh, even reading it today.

Comic moments are peppered liberally throughout, and there are many laugh out loud moments to enjoy. It's arguable that the story collapses in on itself a bit at the end, almost suggesting Boyd didn't know how to bring things to a satisfactory conclusion, but it's still good enough to leave you with a big grin on the face as the last page is turned.

Boyd may have gone on to write better, more serious books, but in doing that, I think he's lost something of the comic timing and touch he brought to his early works, where he was still feeling his way, defining his style and genre. Certainly, later creations lack the genuine sense of self-doubt and self-deprecation that Boyd infused creations with like Henderson Dores and Morgan Leafy. Feel good storytelling that was a joy to re-visit.
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Stars and Bars
Stars and Bars by William Boyd (Paperback - 3 Jun. 2010)
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