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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masticatory delight
This is a very appealing novel by a most original writer. The Paper Eater is a satire on the world of retail. Although the setting is futuristic, many readers will already recognise the Libertycare Corporation, the Big Retail machine that will do literally anything for its customers, including the disposal of your body...
Harvey Kidd owns a family business...
Published on 24 Feb 2001

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excited by the reviews but, sorry, it didn't deliver.
I really wanted to like this book (apart from the cover - a windy day in Birmingham -watch those tissues) and came to it straight in a Naomi Klein anti-consumerism rage.But couldn't get past first two chapters. O.K all the right ideas but so stodgily and obviously written and the first chapter, cardinal sin, wasn't altogether clear. Also it all seems to be written all at...
Published on 1 July 2001


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masticatory delight, 24 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
This is a very appealing novel by a most original writer. The Paper Eater is a satire on the world of retail. Although the setting is futuristic, many readers will already recognise the Libertycare Corporation, the Big Retail machine that will do literally anything for its customers, including the disposal of your body...
Harvey Kidd owns a family business. Trouble is, his family doesn't really exist. Still, their fraudulent practices keep Harvey happy and solvent. With the advent of online trading, the Hogg family business grows and grows. Since everything is done automatically, nobody checks to see just how many offshore accounts the Hoggs have. Harvey still has other needs however, and falls in lust and gets married to Gwynneth. Everything goes swimmingly at first, until Harvey has to admit that he's an orphan, his family isn't actually genuine, and that he's a fraudster. Gwynneth seems to accept all this, apart from Harvey's unnatural urges regarding his imaginary mother and his voluptuous teenage sister, Lola (as in Lolita?). To Harvey's delight, however, Gwynneth becomes pregnant. Maybe a real daughter will be enough to release him from his Hogg fantasy? But Gwynneth decides to take revenge, a decision that will have repercussions for the Kidds for years to come. Harvey is thrust once more into the welcoming arms of the Hoggs, embroiled in his imaginary family made up from composite photos, divided from the concrete world. Still, Harvey lives on the porous isle of Atlantica, the very ground is designed to soak up all the pollution of the world - not even nuclear waste is turned away from Atlantica's ports.
Years later, Harvey is now a prisoner on the Sea Hero, destined to return to Atlantica in time for Liberty Day. It's an appointment that fills him with foreboding. Never the most open of people, Harvey has to find something that will keep his mouth shut, in fear that the other prisoners would lynch him, should they discover his secret. Instead, he indulges in the art of papier-mache, recycling pulp newspaper into art. But his bunkmate is condemned to death, and so has special dispensation to ask Harvey probing questions. Harvey is forced to relate the whole sorrowful tale, to speak of his lost love, the socially inhibited Hannah Park, and of a conspiracy at the very heart of Libertycare...
The Paper Eater is an excellent retail satire, with a killing portrait of how 'customer care' and aromatherapy might go too far. There did seem to be one factual error though: Wesley Pike says that the game of Snakes and Ladders originated from China, whereas all the sources I found say it derived from India. Papier-mache certainly seems to have been exported from China though, where paper was first manufactured. Liz Jensen is a brilliant, original writer, with very much her own quite readable style. The satire is hard, fast, and witty. The Paper Eater is a novel about how retail technology can dehumanise you, by presenting consumer choice as liberty, and docility as happiness. How is it then, that both Harvey and Hannah find the need to strive for freedom against Liberty? Is the death of politics and automatic justice necessarily a good thing? Like George Orwell's 1984 (except for the rats), Liz Jensen extrapolates the present to the not too distant future, and provides a consuming critique of consumerism at its most hungry.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable holiday 'read'., 16 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I picked this up at the airport on my way to Greece, but had never heard of the author before. I liked the sound of the title and the reviews at the back. I was not disappointed. The characters and their situations and experiences were well defined and the story moved on at a great and interesting pace.
The underlying philosophy - the power of large organisations, the ability to ignore how certain human activity continues to destroy the fragile balance of nature on our planet, the idea that even apparently 'flawed' individuals might still be able to hope for fulfilment - is certainly there in good measure. However, for me, it was basically interesting holiday reading - and nothing wrong with that!
However, it has also led me to want to order the other titles by the same author, which must surely be a measure of the underlying impression made by my holiday reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A warning shot across the bows of our future, 17 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
'If there's one thing to be said about life in captivity, it's that you get to travel.' Harvey Kidd is imprisoned in a floating jail which is heading back to his homeland, Atlantica, an artificial island ruled by a computer system called 'Liberty' which calculates the greatest happiness of the greatest number, readjusts 'marginal' people, and controls a consumer society pushed to the limits where choice is illusory.
Harvey Kidd is a 'damaged' orphan, and we follow his story and his imaginary family, and then his fragile relationship with another frail personality, Hannah, who believes she has a 'block' which prevents her from socialising. Jensen renders this relationship beautifully, along with a twisting plot and the underpinning surreal parable of consumerism and 'people's choice' rhetoric. A warning shot across the bows of our future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a seriously funny book for those who like their humour black, 30 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
Imagine if the country was run by a private company like Marks and Spencers. Or one like BNFL. This novel is set in a comic book alternative reality where the government of a small island state is indeed run by a private company. It's a parable about a dysfunctional society that stands comparison with Animal Farm.
This is a seriously funny book for those who like their humour black, but it also succeeds in getting a serious message across. Although there's a comic book feel, the characters are real enough you care what happens to them. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny, consumerist, ecological, sci-fi, action satire., 15 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
If you've read Liz Jensen's two previous books, Egg Dancing and Ark Baby, you'll rush to buy this one and you won't be disappointed. It's the same sort of imaginative and witty writing, set in a future so close to the present that it's almost insulting to call it sci-fi. The main character is a petty convict (or major threat to the state - you're never quite sure which) on board a prison ship from the island of Atlantica. It's a place disturbingly close (ethically speaking) to western civilization, run by a computer and dedicated to the worst excesses of the gods of consumerism and advertising. Get the idea? This is a prison ship drama, blended into a futuristic satire, mixed with a tale of ecological disaster, paranoid totalitarianism and a large dose of humour too. An impossibly ambitious mixture, but Liz Jensen stirs it all together seamlessly. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wild, witty, scary read, 10 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I thought this was a terrific book. Liz Jensen seems to have a style like no-one else's, and the ability to hook you into the story, which is a dark dystopian fable about consumerism gone mad. I never quite knew where it was going, but it didn't seem to matter - and I certainly ended up far from anywhere I knew. I don't know many writers who can do that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best satire on modern Britain, 20 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I have to admit I ordered this book because of its whacky cover. I had only vaguely heard of Liz Jensen and was ready to be disappointed. Instead, I found the Gulliver's Travels of the early 21st Century -- an amazing page-turning satire on where modern society is heading, with wonderful characters who are bizarre and loveable, yet comparable to people we know. Anyone who feels let down by New Labour, has been driven mad by an automated choice answer machine, or feels at a loss without a Tesco loyalty card MUST read this book. In starkly simple and funny terms, Liz Jensen tells us what it is really all about. I don't know why people like Will Self and Martin Amis are hailed as the greatest modern writers. I've never seen Self or Amis tackle a social issue with the skill and sense of fun of Jensen. The only complaint I have is about the title, which should have been Atlantica. I'm now going to order her previous books Ark Baby and Egg Dancing -- ready to be disappointed only by the covers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Consumerist nightmare, 10 Nov 2011
By 
Penny Waugh "A reader" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I have to admit I have read all but one of Liz Jensen's books and I think she's brilliant. All her books are very different yet the spark is in them all. I'm predisposed to quirky, and she is quirky but far more than that. Her characters are rounded and she makes me care for them, even the most unlikely ones. Quite a few of the books, including this one, have a futuristic theme and this one deals with rampant consumerism and the problem of waste disposal, taking in floating prison ships and the prospect of an America ruled by a computer comparable in size to a kitchen refrigerator.
Harvey Kidd, the narrator, had a highly successful career in computer fraud, based on the 'family' which he, as an orphan, conceived for himself in childhood. Betrayed by his actual daughter and manipulated by the powers that be, he ends up facing Final Adjustment in the electric chair when his floating prison returns to his home island. Harvey, his reluctant love Hannah, her sad mother and the other characters are real, the horrors of a totally consumerist society ring true as well. The ending is satisfactory; the characters face an uncertain future, as indeed is inevitable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rhino Poo???, 3 Feb 2007
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This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I loved this book! I have read a number of other Liz Jensen novels and found them all to have intricate story-lines and well thought out plots. This is no different. Indeed, in some ways - characterisation in particular - there might be too many similarities.

The one single thing I didn't "get" about the novel was the rhino poo reference. If anyone wants to help me out here, I'd appreciate it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most recent 'Brave New World' update?, 20 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Paper Eater (Paperback)
I daren't give this novel 5 stars as to say 'I really liked it' would be tempting fate as I found the material it covered very worrying indeed - but, having put the book aside for a while and wondered whether it could just pass as 'entertainment' - have realized, sadly, it can't. There may be no point in a warning if we are all going to ignore it.

Everybody in the world in this book is encouraged to go on shopping right up until the last minute - when they realize they've been living on a waste site that is eventually going to envelop them.

This has a relationship to both 'The Paper Eater' himself - who is eating up computer generated records that have in fact actually printed out - to paperback fiction - to the Kindle and to Amazon itself.

I am worried about saying anything slightly critical of Amamzon as I feel as though they are a 'friend' somehow - I have ordered so much from them and always received it - and they have let me review books like now etc. I even tried to find something out about Amazon's head man - and that is why I have decided to speak out here - because, according to Wikipedia he came from a place in America that had something to do with the development of nuclear material - but also, because it mentions it is named in a phrase Bug's Bunny uses - should have taken the left turn - or should have turned left at .......etc. Well, I'm worried that may be the problem. My Kindle (keyboard and own 3G connection type - seems to have acquired a bug after I picked up a load of kindle books from Amazon for 1 in the 12 Days of Christmas sale.

One of the books I acquired (I can't remember whether it was in the sale or not) was a Hamlyn Book of recipes - it might of been free actually - and said it was a promotion - but it seemed to confuse my Kindle and since then it has not charged up and is stuck on a page with fishes on it = but where the digital picture of the fish is broken up at the bottom. I rang someone at Amazon about it last Sunday - and someone (coincidentally?) called 'Sole' or 'Seul' or - well, something that sounded like that I don't know how you spell it - told me to try charging it up more - but that all didn't work and it is still stuck on the fish picture. There is always a chance that if I leave it to discharge long enough and then try charging it up again it may work....

Anyway, the problem thus seems to be that although digital books do not use up vital paper and tree resources they may eventually catch a bug wiping out all our libraries of digitally stored information - or material could be changed retrospectively more easily to suit a different political agenda.

You will see how this fits with Jensen's book when you read it.

Moreover, the same fishy type picture as is now appearing on my Kindle (and I've never seen that one before when it's been 'at rest' ) - happens to be very similar to one that some staff at PC World in York showed me on my computer once when I'd taken it back for them to have a quick look at it in the hope that they could resolve a problem/mend it. The problem now is that I've noticed that PC World (both shops that were open until a few months ago) - has now disappeared from York altogether. My sister says they have merged with Curry's - but I can't see Curry's shops being bothered to offer such good customer service as PC World sometimes did - for any computer problems that may arise. If you think about it more down these lines it becomes clearer that we are in a 'seige' situation potentially - with regard to repairs and customer service.

A friend of mine is worried that if we buy from online shops all the time (where you can't see if the goods are as described and might have to pay return postage fees - and daren't on places like Ebay give any negative or even neutral reviews - if the High Street has gone bust and all the shops are empty - if council money is also running out - there is a danger there will not be any public places left in our cities.

Amazon themselves seem to keep asking me for feedback on packaging - as if they are surprised I haven't commented yet about how everything I order comes from them in a massive box with loads and loads of brown paper wrapped up inside - even if it is a fairly small item.

Are they really called Amazon because of the length of the Amazon river being a long one - or has it something to do with this Bugs Bunny thing - or paper-waste and trees somehow????

UPDATE 4/02/13

I can't believe I heard on the News today that the Cumbrian nuclear power plant will need to spend a further 68 billion pounds on decommissioning the Sellafield site. Not only does this article of News come on the same day that we are told police officers have been using dead children's names to try and entrap the kind of people (ecologists I think) who might have been protesting against such sites on behalf of the general public, but on a day when we are told about the plans to Ringfence banking activities - the banking sector has no doubt known about the cost of nuclear decommissioning looming up...could this be classed as a Casino activity? Moreover, though we were told the other night that Cumbria has voted against storing the nuclear waste (properly) (and I don't suppose I blame them in some respects) - but I assume that this means that the nuclear waste is just going to continue being stored dangerously and insecurely - I saw a programme about it some time ago - about how potentially dangerous our own method presently of dealing with the waste is....
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The Paper Eater
The Paper Eater by Liz Jensen (Paperback - 3 July 2006)
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