Customer Reviews


8 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of a Minor Breakdown
Despite its rather puzzling title, this is a generally solidly constructed book, and a rather satisfying read. Mr Szalay's central character, Paul is a man on the edge; a seller of worthless ads in uncirculated magazines and a functional alcoholic, it is clear that something in his life is going to give. The characterisation is deftly handled, even if Mr Szalay doesn't...
Published on 21 April 2008 by Man down the Boozer

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unrealistic
Though I enjoyed this novel's attempt to portray a midlife psychological breakdown and the main character's attempt to rebuild his life, I felt that it was marred by behaviour and descriptions that didn't really ring true. Though the main chracter is an alcoholic, would he really be able to spend 200 per week on drink, given his failure at his job and that he commutes to...
Published on 22 May 2011 by G. Hughes


Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of a Minor Breakdown, 21 April 2008
Despite its rather puzzling title, this is a generally solidly constructed book, and a rather satisfying read. Mr Szalay's central character, Paul is a man on the edge; a seller of worthless ads in uncirculated magazines and a functional alcoholic, it is clear that something in his life is going to give. The characterisation is deftly handled, even if Mr Szalay doesn't entirely avoid slipping in a little of the sensibility of the author to the worldview of his central character. Still such leakage is probably inevitable, so this is the merest quibble.
The self absorption and despair is very nicely handled. His use of smoking on every possible occasion is superb, suggesting both the isolation of Paul, his entrapment in his situation, and a sort of hazy feeling that hangs over the entire work.

While this is primarily a novel about psychological breakdown, it doesn't compromise on narrative drive. We are drawn into Paul's very pedestrian world of work, his down at heel suburbian life, his rather tenuous relationships with even his closest family. The pace and intensity of the first two hundred pages, give way to a somewhat gentler second half in the novel, as Paul begins to rebuild his life. Anyone who has done the sort of mind numbing work that the author describes, or has been in Paul's situation, will admire the perceptive way in which the character's crisis is described.

All in all this is an excellent first novel and deserves a wide readership.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you have ever worked in sales, this is a slice of your life, 14 Dec 2010
By 
Fantastically funny, extremely well-observed and surprisingly humane given that it is basically about sharks. Paul is trying not to be one; the reader can make up his or her mind on that.

I suppose it helps if you know anything about this particular world and/or live in London. If you do, I very much recommend this. If you have ever sold advertising, this is about you and your colleagues! You will recognise some of them!

I gave my copy to someone (a fellow salesperson) and never got it back. I shall soon have to buy another one to own; that's how much I like this novel. Am looking forward to reading his other work, which I bought just on the strength of this one, and which is completely different.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great debut, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Charles "mrfreedom" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is a terrific novel, one of the best fiction books I've read in a while.
Szalay is a writer of great skill and assurance and produces a gripping tale. It's effectively a story in two halves, both of which gradually build the tension until they reach blackly funny and richly satisfying denouements. You'd never think strawberries could be so well used as a plot device.
There are little whiffs of David Brent, Glengarry Glen Ross and Bukowski; dialogue is totally convincing; settings are extremely well evoked, and I loved the page which is just a list of pubs the lead character has visited (sounds lame, but it works).
Funny and melancholy, observant and ingenious, London And The South-east (great title) is a fantastically compelling read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive stuff....., 2 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
London and the South East is fabulously readable - Brilliant, unsentimental, witty and moving. Glengary Glen Ross is referenced in it which is apt as fans of that will love this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A slice of verite, 12 Oct 2009
By 
Well written, acutely observed mans world. My only quibble is that the ending is too realistic. My efforts to reach the end didn't feel rewarded. Ends with a fizzle rather than a bang.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unrealistic, 22 May 2011
By 
G. Hughes "Ending 2058" (Watford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Though I enjoyed this novel's attempt to portray a midlife psychological breakdown and the main character's attempt to rebuild his life, I felt that it was marred by behaviour and descriptions that didn't really ring true. Though the main chracter is an alcoholic, would he really be able to spend 200 per week on drink, given his failure at his job and that he commutes to London every day from a rented house in Hove? Would his partner tolerate his behaviour - arriving home drunk in the early hours every day - and do nothing more than ask if 'everything's OK' or mildly suggest that he may need to talk to someone? I think not, his life would have fallen apart catastrophically rather than his being able to maintain his home and family, allowing him the luxury of unfocussed introspection on what to do with his life. Another minor point: 'Church's shoes' are not the choice of someone who has been earning the min. wage. Altogether a strange mixture of psychological insight and naivety.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I presume the Olympic Committee didn't read this rubbish before London 2012 was announced, 6 Aug 2010
Make no mistake. This is a bad book. Some of the other reviews (and indeed some in the national press) have given this 5 stars. Apparently it announces a 'stunning new talent' or some other such nonsense. There's a difference between bleak and dreary. Paul Rainey is a screaming stereotype of the highest order. Apparently he accurately represents the pathos of the middle-aged male according to one review. A new movement is now required - Middle-Aged Males for Justice. This is simply a glorified pub crawl. Which brings me to the most laughable part of the book. The part where he is mocked by a group of students in the pub when one asks what he does as he sits alone with yet another pint. What was that all about? Was that meant to be visceral? Don't believe the scant reviews given to this by the so called literati in the press or wherever. One review said that the ensuing events towards the end of the book 'are really what would've happened'. That's enough to prompt the question "Where and in which universe would they have happened?" Not this one. One can only hope that any future work by Mr Szalay doesn't come entitled 'Scotland and the North West'. It'll set us years back.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read despite ocassional Americanisms, 26 May 2009
By 
J. Driscoll (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's nice to read a book where the main character is so realistically flawed and could well be someone you pass on the street every day.
My only gripe is a very personal annoyance. Particularly in a book called (and set in) London And The South East you wouldn't expect babies to come in "diapers" or cigatettes in "packs".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews