Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Boy Hiding in Disguises, 7 May 2004
This review is from: Billy Liar (Mass Market Paperback)
Still fresh after 45 years, Waterhouse's novel about a compulsive liar who can't handle reality is funny, sweet, and heartbreakingly sad. Set at the tail end of 1950s, the story is told by Billy Fisher, who lives with his parents in the fictional Yorkshire town of Stradhoughton. Billy can't cope with his tedious clerking job at a local funeral parlor, living at home, or really anything about his life, and so, spends a great deal of time escaping into fantasy world in his head called Ambrosia. When he's not imagining life as prime minister of his make-believe country, he's spinning mostly purposeless lies to almost everyone he meets. Sometimes he's lying to cover up real misdeeds, such as his smalltime embezzling, other times, his lies are completely pointless, such as telling a friend's mother about his fictional sister.
At first, his carefree, devil-may-care insouciance is amusing and the reader is drawn into Billy's bizarre self-vision as lively raconteur and comic wit. However, as the story progresses, he becomes a more troublesome figure. He's engaged to two different girls, and apparently in love with a third. More problematically, he has no emotional connection to realityóevery episode in his life takes on the aspect of a sketch or scene in which he struggles to determine what role to play, what accent to adopt, or what pose to strike. It becomes heartbreaking to witness Billy's belief that he's smarter than everyone around him and destined for great things, when everyone else can see right through his poses and tired routines. (It'd be interesting to know what a psychiatrist's diagnosis of Billy would be.) As the lies pile up, Billy finds himself painted into a corner from which only drastic action will free him. His only avenue of escape is to actually pursue his longstanding claim of a job offer in London writing scripts for a standup comic. The reader is torn between wanting Billy to stay and face up to his misdeeds, and wanting him to get on that train to the Big Smoke and realize his dreams. Of course, the outcome is inevitable.
Waterhouse grew up in Leeds, and like Billy, worked as a clerk in an undertakers. The prose is liberally sprinkled with Yorkshire dialect, and does a brilliant job of capturing the small town atmosphere, from the grubby disco, to the local cafe, and claustrophobic house. The book was turned into a play the year after publication and into an excellent film several years later, a TV miniseries in the early 1970s, and an insipid American TV series called Billy. A sequel called Billy Liar on The Moon appeared in 1977, and more recently there are allegedly plans for an American feature film remake, although I'm not sure who thought that would be a good idea..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Mar 2016 02:26:00 GMT
Bookman says:
How the sad ugliness of that final statement is also accurate! Take ten, twenty or even fifty remakes of any film or theatrical play, subsequently grabbed kicking and screaming
by an overweight producer as a movie, or as we were brought up, a film ! Yes TITANIC did introduce us to a modern day successful Leonardo , today a mature accomplished actor. That said, who needs, or how much more can a patient public really enjoy, once every decade remakes of icebergs and sinking ocean going liners ? Bottom line, no shortage of portly producers prepared to waste investors cash on what almost always results in 3rd rate half assed remakes of what had quite often been first class production values and successful screenplay or theatrical presentation. One rare exception ( albeit the film definitely did not compare to stage production ) is Alan Bennet's "The history boys" As pure a theatrical triumph as an audience can ever dream of seeing again ?
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer

A. Ross
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Washington, DC

Top Reviewer Ranking: 591