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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read
Toby Litt's 'Hospital' is a mesmerising read. It begins like a comic mix of fairytale meets Mills & Boon, with its child protagonist running around Hospital - the author's emphasis is upon Hospital (an entity in its own right), not just a hospital (as in a building where sick people are taken) - worried about an apple seed in his stomach that is rapidly maturing into an...
Published on 5 May 2007 by N. Martin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste
Nothing can prepare you for the psychotropic mayhem that Toby Litt unleashes in Hospital for you. In fact in hyper-intellectualising the fiendish fantastical action that unfolds here too much is spoiling the fun. With all the freedom that this sub-genre of "coma" fiction gives him, we have Litt going full throttle at making the multi-storeyed institution of the sick come...
Published on 1 Jun 2010 by coronaurora


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read, 5 May 2007
This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
Toby Litt's 'Hospital' is a mesmerising read. It begins like a comic mix of fairytale meets Mills & Boon, with its child protagonist running around Hospital - the author's emphasis is upon Hospital (an entity in its own right), not just a hospital (as in a building where sick people are taken) - worried about an apple seed in his stomach that is rapidly maturing into an apple tree, whilst all around him innocent nurses are swooning for hunky surgeons. But underneath all the superficial gloss, something darker is lurking, from a Black Mass in the hospital chapel, a voodoo ceremony taking place in the basement and immortality severely affecting various patients and inmates around the building (making the sick get better and bringing the dead back to life including, in one disturbingly macabre scene, the jars stored in Hospital's teaching wing...).

As a read, 'Hospital' is hypnotising and, for myself personally, one of those books that you find yourself going 'OK, I'll just read a couple more paragraphs...' and then realising that it's 2 hours later.

I also had the great pleasure in meeting Toby Litt recently when he came to perform a reading and Q & A session at my university; not only is he incredibly entertaining as a writer, he is also a remarkably adept storyteller in person and a thoroughly nice guy to boot! Check out his website at tobylitt.com.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An acquired taste, 1 Jun 2010
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This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
Nothing can prepare you for the psychotropic mayhem that Toby Litt unleashes in Hospital for you. In fact in hyper-intellectualising the fiendish fantastical action that unfolds here too much is spoiling the fun. With all the freedom that this sub-genre of "coma" fiction gives him, we have Litt going full throttle at making the multi-storeyed institution of the sick come alive with so much well-being and life (of botanical and otherwise) after a Black Mass and a voodoo procession go horribly wrong (or right depending where you stand on these things) inside the annals of the building which presumably resides inside the annals of the subconscious of a subarachnoid-haemorrhage-recovering patient (who, just to make matters that much more icky is a key subject within his own vivid "dream vision"), that it will leave you gasping for breath and go "no kidding", besides the occassional laughter-roll.

The MAIN guy has-and this is strictly one of my many takes-during his coma, listened and taken a liking to a fairy tale about apple trees and a disobeying boy, and maybe because he's one of the insiders, the full blown fantasy that he subsequently conjures up has, besides a spectacularly detailed and architecturally coherent vision of the building, a wanton boy with an apple-seed tree sprouting from the navel running through never-ending corridors and elusively far-far-away main exits, even as the hospital gets surrounded by a fog of all-encompassing death fog. Much of the action in the main act relies on how gobsmacked you can be of sick and dead people getting whole and alive again, and how big a stomach you have for gratuitous violence on the written page. This is Grindhouse movies meeting Dean Koontz via nauseating amount of afternoon medical soaps and handshaking with Jose Saramago. But it's all popcorn. Not working in totality as some sort of a serious allegory, it definitely throws a few punches at those who spend a majority of their time bellowing at the sky for the Almighty to shower well-being. Well, read Hospital to find out what happens when there's abundance of perfect health. With the cynicism of Saramago, Litt unfolds an apocalypse that's so irredeemable it is scary, and yet you don't get down as you have Litt writing it.

It's peopled by atleast a 100 odd characters, the action takes place over 20 floors, and yet, like a master-juggler at a circus, Litt manages to make 100 totally convincing, disparate beings with absolutely believable dialogue and by slicing the epic action into four different vantages and by cutting to each of these four narratives in quick alternation, he makes sure the pages fly by even as sometimes his ideas play catch-up for an odd 50 or so. The moody 200 page prologue which builds up the tension and the atmosphere totally achieves a nail-biting cliff-hanger after a quick succession of revelations and a promise of the fleeting connections hiding something deeper. And it does. The apocalyptic chaos that ensues within the building and the sheer scale of devastation and orgiastic flesh-and-blood abundance the creatures find themselves and throw each other into, not forgetting the waging of a religious war of sorts is something that in hands of other sci-fi/speculative fiction heavyweights, would have led to a different sort of an examination. But not with Litt. He just fires on all the engines and delivers hedonistic pulp with very few sombre philosophical deviations (although for those embarking upon reading this, noting down the strange reverence he pays for the psychological growth of his humanoids who become gifted with rather erratic physical gifts is rewarding-the guy even at his wildest knows how and where to anchor it somehow).

The tone makes Hospital slightly vapid and disposable, but lazy this ain't. I found Litt's imagination fierce, his prose unlaboured, his humour pitch-perfect (and so welcome), his research sincere (anybody who's worked or been in any of the NHS hospitals is in for a whale of a time) and his genre-tripping between daytime soap (the hospital politics!) fantasy, science-fiction and speculative horror totally effortless. It's not for everyone but if flipping through the first few pages gets you sucked in, you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would be better to have slept through it, 18 Jan 2010
By 
S. Fagence - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am a big time fan of Litt so it's a shame to say that I don't think this is a very good book.

The book contains some fine imagery (the tree in the boy, the lift shaft) and in places some really first class writing (my favourite is the line about "a pilgrimage through hell") but ultimately as other reviews suggest the book has no real meaning other than just being /weird/ for the sake of it. Saying it's a dreamscape does not make the poverty of meaning any better.

An obsession with satan worshippers and ritual rape is crass but ultimately meaningless since there is no real horror evoked - the tone is more dreamlike so serious violence and violation do not seem sinister so much as bright, comic-booky and utterly unreal. This is a shame seeing as hospitals can make such bleak and nightmarish settings (think Solzhenitsyn's "Cancer Ward"). In fact, the book has little to do with hospital themes and is much more concerned with a bland theology contrasting a character living through their own coma and a gang of satanists that would seem one dimensional and motiveless even on daytime television. The whole impression feels very hackneyed since so many of the ideas are "old" often repetitive plot ideas - and those which are not really drawn with much commitment.

Why do the hospital staff worship Satan? They just do. The book has no more depth or commitment than that.

It all seems at times like it might have been intended as like a Kingdom Hospital farce (I am sure Litt must have had this in his mind since the comparison is so obvious and previous books have been full of references to literary precursors, e.g. Beatniks, Finding Myself) but since we already have the excellent Garth Merenghi's Darkplace, it seems a pale entertainment by comparison.

I am sorry for such a negative review but it really was very boring to read and Litt really is capable of so much more. If considering whether to buy this, I would suggest a book that has much more depth and meaning an is a better reflection of one of our best contemporary authors. In short: pick any of the others.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What?, 12 Jun 2013
By 
Tim (sheffield, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
I, like some of the other reviewers, have no idea what the author was trying to do with this book. I thought I'd give it a go after reading Corpsing, which I enjoyed, but whatever he was trying to do with this, I don't think it worked. Its not funny, its not scary, its not engaging, its not a story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Action packed, macabre, funny and highly original, 7 Sep 2008
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
Having read the cover, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this. And now having read it, it's hard to describe for others! My advice would be: read it and find out! 'Hospital' is a fantasy, a bizarre rollercoaster which starts off like an episode of Holby City and becomes gradually more and more surreal. And it's fantastic all the way through.

Fans of Terry Pratchett will almost certainly like this, as it reads like a real-world version of the more exciting parts of his Discworld novels. The action begins within the first few pages and continues unrelentingly to the end. It's easy to read and very difficult to put down! If you enjoy action packed, plot driven novels then this is a winner.

There are a host of characters, all of whom are interesting and entertaining. I cared about the fate of the heroes and heroines from an early stage. It's also humourous - not laugh out loud, but there are definitely plenty of wry chuckles to be had along the way. My only criticism (and it's a mild one) would be the ending, which I found rather disappointing.

If you like your medical dramas ultra-realistic, you may not appreciate this novel. But if you've ever wondered what it would be like if porters were holding voodoo ceremonies in the basement, a group of satanists had taken over the chapel, and everyone in the hospital actually got healed, then sit back and enjoy the ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year, 12 Sep 2007
By 
Marc Lyth (Salford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
This is quite simply the most unputdownable book I've read this year. It's weird, wonderful and surreal and moves with the speed of a fig biscuit through a short grandmother.

Don't pick this book up if you've only got a few minutes before you've got to leave the house/go to bed/go to that vital business meeting. You won't get where you're going because you won't be able to put the book down. This is the literary equivalent of coating the cover with superglue.

The imagery throughout the book is fabulous, ideas piling on ideas like a bolus of half formed livestock falling down a liftshaft. A man being "outvaded by a fine guernsey heifer" has to be one of the greatest images I can remember reading - note it's not any old cow, not even any old heiffer, it's a Fine Guernsey Heifer. Toby Litt has a gift with words and knows how to use it, this is possibly my favourite of his books to date.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's surreal, then there's Hospital, 3 Mar 2008
This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
Erm? [scratches head]

Ummm? [taps lips pensively]

Hmm? [frowns perplexedly]

I have no idea what this book is about, or what its author intended, if anything. Is it a metaphor for the futility of the ancient battle between good and evil, with Hospital being the indifferent and all powerful universe? Is it a surreal updating of Dante's journey through hell?
Is it just great fun?

Whatever symbolism is hidden in it (or none), this outrageously surreal and compelling book is brilliant.

I absolutely loved it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hospital of horrors, 3 May 2007
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hospital (Paperback)
You know that feeling you get when you visit someone in hospital when you walk down countless identical corridors, passing rooms you're frightened to look into, and probably getting totally lost when you finally try to leave? Toby Litt has built on that feeling by creating an bizarre fantasy world of black comedy, a hospital many stories high, with basements containing unspeakable horrors and where getting lost seems to be the fate of everyone. Its wards area contain a mixture of freakish doctors and obnoxious patients, voodoo-practicing porters, and a surgeon with a bent for Satanism whose black mass culminates in an outrageously described sex-orgy.

Litt doesn't spare the sensitive reader. Be warned, at times you will need a strong stomach to read some parts of this book. Litt writes some of the most unappealing sex scenes, and delights in creating a picture of corruption to rival Hogarth's Gin Lane.

Whether this book works for you or not depends on your taste for books whose main quality is serial shock, a comic book mix of science-fiction and general weirdness. I'm afraid I got bored with it half-way through, but realise that some people will love it. It has a huge cast of characters, but Litt somehow enable the reader to keep in touch with them all without losing the thread. Its not saying much, but as entertainment for those with a dark sense of humour it, will probably satisfy.
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Hospital
Hospital by Toby Litt (Paperback - 5 April 2007)
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