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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good
I bought this because I've always liked Thewlis's acting and I have an interest in the London Art scene. I had no idea that I was picking up such a work of genius. Debut or not, this is a masterpiece. Will Self must dream of getting this good. Such ballsy and honest writing addressing all the big subjects beautifully: Life, Death, and Art. All from the point of view of...
Published on 20 Oct 2008 by G. D. G. Ackland

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Appealing or Appalling Hero?
One prominent print review casts the protagonist of this debut novel from British actor Thewliss as an "appealing" hero. I had to reread that particular line several times, because to my mind, a more accurate description would be "appalling." And it's that difference between appealing and appalling that made this book an ultimately frustrating read for me. I'm not...
Published on 6 Jan 2009 by A. Ross


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good, 20 Oct 2008
By 
G. D. G. Ackland "gackland" (london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
I bought this because I've always liked Thewlis's acting and I have an interest in the London Art scene. I had no idea that I was picking up such a work of genius. Debut or not, this is a masterpiece. Will Self must dream of getting this good. Such ballsy and honest writing addressing all the big subjects beautifully: Life, Death, and Art. All from the point of view of this strangely lovable, dysfunctional, selfish, immature wretch of a man. The plot is great, but it's the writing that really drives it. Hector's voice is unforgettable and painfully of-the-moment. What a portrait of the pretentious, solipsistic, empty-hearted gets that society's avant-garde is birthing. Hilarious climax, too. Don't delay! Buy! Read!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leading to a huge hole in the floor of the Tate Gallery, 3 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
Deeply scurrilous, wickedly funny and ultimately horrifying - this is a novel with attitude. It concerns the Emin and Hirst school of art, productive of works more conceptual than painterly. Hector has had some minor success and is creating a self-portrait for a prestigious gallery showing as the novel opens. He has a wonderful girlfriend, Eleni, and often goes back to Blackpool to see his Mum and Dad. But there's something missing from his life. What he finds most interesting is death (his first successful drawing was of his Auntie Pat's dead budgie). He wonders how death, someone else's death, might contribute to his artistic sensibilities. Hector would like somebody to die, somebody close enough for him to care about - and that, of course, makes him feel terrible.

When things start to go wrong, involving a foppish stalker, a large ugly settee, and a sadistic female American poet, Hector becomes locked in a spiral of disaster that leads to the breakdown of his relationships with everyone, and to a huge hole in the floor of the Tate Gallery. Hector is splendid in a rather horrifying way. He is the epitome of the self-absorbed artist, but he is also very self-knowing, so the reader quickly becomes complicit in his outrageous thought-patterns, if not in his equally outrageous behaviour.

This very funny novel is full of bile and spleen on the subject of the modern art scene. David Thewlis is better known as an actor and was seen relatively recently playing identical twin brothers in the BBC series The Street.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Right Laugh, 16 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
Having enjoyed David Thewlis's role in Mike Leigh's Naked I bought the book on the strength of that.
Wondering if I was falling into the trap of reading something by a 'celebrity' somebody I 'know' rather than a 'proper' author.
However, celebrity or not, the work stands on it's own, I like the way it's written and to my mind D. Thewlis is a 'proper' author.
If you've had any brush with the art world at all you're going to love this, either way it'll make you laugh and appeal to your self destructive side. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 18 Sep 2008
By 
A. Kennedy "toe_k" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
One of the best, if not THE best book I've read in years, had me laughing out loud on the tube (which can be quite embarrassing). A brilliant read, though I was picturing David Thewlis as Hector throughout.
Buy it Buy it Buy it! It must be read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Appealing or Appalling Hero?, 6 Jan 2009
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
One prominent print review casts the protagonist of this debut novel from British actor Thewliss as an "appealing" hero. I had to reread that particular line several times, because to my mind, a more accurate description would be "appalling." And it's that difference between appealing and appalling that made this book an ultimately frustrating read for me. I'm not suggesting that a protagonist has to be nice, or likable, or "appealing" to be worth spending 300 pages with -- there are plenty of example of awful, nasty, completely compelling characters who can carry a book along. But the middle-aged painter named Hector Kipling, whose antics this story revolves around, becomes so annoyingly selfish and self-destructive that as his world collapses all around him in the final third of the book, one is hard-pressed to care.

Which isn't to say the book isn't worth trying. For one thing, it's pretty funny -- at least the first half or so. I wouldn't rate it as laugh-out-loud funny as many others seem to, but the wordplay is awfully sharp in that way that seems comes so effortlessly to British writers. At the same time, it's a sharp skewering of the modern art scene, with plenty of name dropping and inside jokes. So if you find the art of installations and video montages to be generally worth mockery, then this may be the book for you.

Another potentially interesting element is how Thewliss takes a standard comedy template (the flawed but likable 25-45 male who makes a few mistakes in the first act and then must spend the rest of the book/film redeeming himself, winning success and the girl by the end) and subverts it. What starts off as another journey down this well-trodden path starts to veer off the map, as Hector's missteps lead him down some very dark roads. Around two-thirds of the way through the book, it seems like the plot has been taken to a place it cannot logically recover from. And yet, we are so used to reading/seeing these kind of stories where the hero turns it all around in in a cunning or lucky reversal of fortunes, that the narrative tension is maintained.

Whether or not you enjoy this is predicated on whether or not you buy into Hector's rapid nervous breakdown and increasingly erratic and selfish behavior. Personally, it all felt way too contrived to me, but I was glad that Thewliss never shied away from the realistic fallout such a breakdown would cause. Worth a sample by those looking for very dark comedy and/or fiction about the artistic process set in the contemporary art world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a black comedy that stuns you, 2 April 2010
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This review is from: The Late Hector Kipling (Paperback)
Like other readers I bought this on the promise of it being written by David Thewlis. The dark hunour that is throughout the book had me laughing out loud whilst on a train. He has captured a very tormented soul and created beautifully into Hector Kipling. The characters are so diversified and all bring such a story together to a dramatic ending for Hector. The portrayal of the art world is modern and in-your-face and gives you a new appreciation for that area of creativity. David Thelis's first novel is a mind shattering experience for the imagination, where you come out shattered but satisfied by one hell of a read.
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The Late Hector Kipling
The Late Hector Kipling by David Thewlis (Paperback - 4 July 2008)
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