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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good novel, understated and brilliantly funny.
Eight Minutes Idle plunges you into a rather comic frantic world of call centres, constantly ringing phones, clipboard carrying team leaders with targets and irrate customers on the end of phones speaking to staff who couldn't care less. The novel succeeds in entertaining you with series of funny mishaps that befall our main character. The pace of the book is uneven...
Published on 4 Mar. 2008 by Michael.M

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Makes me paranoid about call centres
I haven't read anything else by Matt Thorne, and still don't know if I want to. I enjoyed '8 Minutes Idle', and found myself laughing aloud many times (the film with Nigel Havers and Andrew McCarthy does exist I discovered with research!). I now can't take it seriously if I have to phone help-lines because I am thinking about what the other person is doing whilst...
Published on 25 Jan. 2001


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good novel, understated and brilliantly funny., 4 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
Eight Minutes Idle plunges you into a rather comic frantic world of call centres, constantly ringing phones, clipboard carrying team leaders with targets and irrate customers on the end of phones speaking to staff who couldn't care less. The novel succeeds in entertaining you with series of funny mishaps that befall our main character. The pace of the book is uneven given that the beginning and middle are full of detail and told almost in slow motion...whereas the ending appears rushed and detail is sparse. However given the setting this structure mirrors the very topic it devotes itself too namely call centres...all calls start slow and as the chat proceeds so does the pace until before too long you are hurridly rushed off the phone....eight minutes idle is what it is and makes no apologies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bit douglas coupland-y only english., 11 Jun. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
takes a little while getting into the mindset of the characters & even longer to care about them. Then the book is like a transatalntic flight. Before you know it your 3/4 through it. set in bristol around a call centre with it's microcosmic ego's misconceptions & petty powerplays it's so easy to read it's incredible. by the end you really care about the characters & the emotional interplay between the main charater & his colleage Tina. The book never reaches a resolution as such I this seems to be the authors depiction of such a career - or rather the culmanation of that career. no questions really get answered because management doesn't care. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has worked in a stifling office environment in britain or elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars just another day at the office, 19 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
Daniel works in Bristol in a telephone call centre -one of those places that takes calls for a number of different organisations, pretends to be whichever organisation you think you're calling, and often keeps you on hold for ages. He likes the office atmosphere and gets on well with his fellow team members. His life is pretty humdrum - not much money, junk food, lager, cable tv porn, a disco where he gets in free because one of the other tele-workers is the dj. Daniel's routine is slightly disturbed when his Dad, with whom he shares a bedsit, gets knocked over by a car and Daniel wonders if his estranged Mum had anything to do with it. The difficulty of the money situation while his father is in hospital obliges Daniel to accept a temporary room-mate, but this doesn't work out so he moves into the call centre, taking with him a stray cat he's grown fond of. When his team leader discovers him kipping on the office floor Daniel improvises brilliantly and is able to kill two birds with one stone by first immediately having sex with her and then moving in with her and her mother. Meanwhile, he has discovered that his Dad has been acting as the chairperson of a women's empowerment group; he reads the minutes of their very frank and confessional meetings and meets them all. Then he goes back to the bedsit to recover his Dad's computer stuff and makes a rather unpleasant discovery. On top of all this, by sleeping with the team leader Daniel of course upsets the delicate balance of the office and things get a bit uncomfortable; the others stop talking to him and they won't help him out with difficult callers and so on. The author's flat, naturalistic depiction of Daniel's life - the life of someone who doesn't really have a life - is very well done and to maintain the tone so successfully over nearly 500 pages is little short of brilliant. We become so immersed in the mood of the book that the bizarre blips in Daniel's life don't strike one as anything extraordinary. It doesn't seem unreasonable that Daniel should have a little problem of some past 'GBH' hanging over him; and what could be more natural than him going round for a chat with one of the women from the group and joining her in her bath to explain why? There is some pretty explicit sex, which may put some people off, but it isn't really gratuitous. Daniel's voice reminded me of another [north african] outsider, although Daniel might be far more menacing. We can't really be sure. This is an entertaining, disturbing and serious look into the minds of some of the 20-30 somethings currently on the loose among us. They're a bit scary to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential crisis?, 7 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
When his father is involved in a car accident, Dan gives up the bedist they share and moves into the office in which he works. Hiding from his team leader, the cleaners and his friends - and trying to find somewhere to have a bath - become Dan's life-goals. Screw university, ambition and true love: Dan just wants to get by. Eight Minutes Idle is an alienating, fascinating, sweet and sour book. Dan is the most lovable existential anti-hero since Robert Smith's Stranger... Whoops, I mean the narrator of Nabokov's The Eye. A haunting read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Makes me paranoid about call centres, 25 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
I haven't read anything else by Matt Thorne, and still don't know if I want to. I enjoyed '8 Minutes Idle', and found myself laughing aloud many times (the film with Nigel Havers and Andrew McCarthy does exist I discovered with research!). I now can't take it seriously if I have to phone help-lines because I am thinking about what the other person is doing whilst talking to me. I was disappointed with the end though, which was vague, and hurried. I felt like he had been given a word limit and was trying to cram the ending into as few words as possible. I recommend it if you want to laugh, but be prepared to be let down if you want a conclusion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars starts v well...but no ending, 16 Dec. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
v enjoyable book till near the end when it just fizzles out. the ending is really poor and the author obviously got bored and couldn't be bothered to finish it properly. worth a read if you're bored but stick to more mainstream authors who actually deliver.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 24 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
Anyone who has been put off Matt Thorne by his dire third novel, 'Dreaming of Strangers', should not be disheartened. 'Eight Minutes Idle' suggests Thorne, if he remains true to himself and sticks to what he's good at, has the potential to be one of the best contemporary young writers around today. 'Eight Minutes Idle' may be set in a call centre, but this is a book which turns the ordinary inside out and makes it extraordinary. The prose is lucid and effortlessly readable and addictive from the first page. From then on, you are slowly drawn into the world of Dan - a intriguing character, who (despite a shady and violent past) and some disturbing faults (particularly his school-boyish atttitude to women) remains incredibly likeable and sympathetic. The novel is dark, wicked and extremely sexy - erotic scenes are usually the hardest for most authors to cope with (usually descending into Mills & Boon) cliche, Thorne manages to create electric set/sex pieces which are described with a light, ironic detachment. Afterwards, its this oddly dark sexual undercurrent rippling through the book which lingers on the imagination... The only worrying things are - Matt Thorne admitting to the book being semi-autobiographical (which bits? ) and the fact that his 3rd novel was so terrible - retreating in fluffy, cheesy romantic comedy, with all the sex cut out and replaced by cliches. Matt Thorne should go back to his roots and continue in 'Eight Minutes Idle' tradition - writing novels like this which are thought-provoking, disturbing and stunning. A brilliant novel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Clever by Half, 10 Mar. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
Told in the first person, this black comedy is ostensibly set in a Bristol call-centre. Dan is a twentysomething ne'er-do-well coping with an increasingly complex personal situation. Dan is a likeable guy, but he is also a master of self-delusion and an unreliable narrator. In fact, Dan is a psychopath whose profound lack of empathy hides behind the ironic detachment of his cool, self-justifying prose. Dan's narrative is the call-centre of his soul - the friendly, likeable but ultimately dishonest face of something darker. The story itself leaves many questions unanswered, but only because Dan does not answer them for you. Dan does not tell you everything, and what may seem like bizarre, comical incidents from a straight reading take on added significance when seen from the point-of-view of other characters or even by filling in the blanks yourself. Subtle and disturbing (and sometimes too clever by half), this book deserves to be read more than once. A brutal comment on a society where appearance is all.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Living on the edge, 10 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
This is Matt Thorne's second book, and like his first, Tourist, is about someone getting by, but only just. Dan works at a telephone call centre where his work is constantly monitored, he earns little money, drinks with his workmates and shares a one room flat with his father. When his father goes into hospital, he can't afford to pay the rent on his own, so he moves into the call centre, along with his cat. He also discovers his father has a secret life. Then things begin to get really tough. A thought provoking book about the insecurity and shallowness of modern day life and working conditions, it is at 470 pages perhaps a bit longer than it needed to be, but the first person and present tense style kept me going and sympathetic to Dan despite him doing some fairly irrational things. Having written two books about aimless drifters living on the edge in West Country towns, it will be interesting to see whether Matt Thorne's writing can now develop into new areas.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny,intelligent prose: excruciating relationships, 25 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Eight Minutes Idle (Paperback)
I heartily recommend this book- a searingly honest witty and intelligent inner dialogue about a few eventful weeks in the life of a young call centre employee who practises faking it as an art form. (I've worked in call centres and his accurate descriptions of survival techniques are irresistible).Acute observations about the dynamics of supposedly intimate relationships, sexual mores,the limits of friendship and family ties and the pursuit of self-interest amounting to an almost "Outsider"esque cf Camus take on life as his egoism doesn't necessarily bring any kind of traditional rewards. It's fairly long but you won't want it to finish anyway. Better than his first book "Tourist" which has the germs of ideas carried through in "Idle". Expect crackling dialogue and navel exploration to a pathological degree rendered addictive by the lucid, witty prose style
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Eight Minutes Idle
Eight Minutes Idle by Matt Thorne (Paperback - 5 April 2001)
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