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The Brandy of the Damned by [Higgs, JMR]
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The Brandy of the Damned Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Length: 210 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 418 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Big Hand (24 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00865C2RK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #304,059 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Odd, but readable and not "right on" for which I was thankful.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I like this book. What's not to like? It's easy to read (I read it one sitting), cheap, entertaining, funny, moving, surprising and completely original. There is no other book quite like it. But what I like most about it is that, despite the fact that some unbelievable things happen within it, it has its own internal consistency and is somehow deeply satisfying.

It's a bit like a fairy story. In fairy stories magical events occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. Trees have spirits. The venerable stranger grants wishes. The hero is lead into a mysterious and often threatening world where strange things happen.

The Brandy of the Damned has something of that quality. There are a series of magical events, in the form of little blue bottles which appear intermittently throughout the story, which contain chapters from a future bible. Various things occur which exist outside the scope of normal reality. But there is a light touch to all of this, and we never find our credulity strained.

Our three characters - all ex members of a band which broke up twenty years ago - are on a journey around the coastline of Britain. But, while the place names stay the same, you soon realise it is a mythical Britain we are travelling through, a Britain of the subconscious, and that the events are occurring on a magical or a symbolic level.

However, just like a fairy story, we find ourselves going along with the logic of this. It is not handled in a clumsy way. The plot twists are frequent enough and surprising enough to make us want to keep on reading, and the characters are real enough for us to believe in them.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a beautifully observed trip around the UK by three reunited rock musicians. More metaphysical than John Donne, more cryptic than Howard Overman, it does for middle age what Gregory's Girl did for teen age.

Although "Brandy Of The Damned" appears to ask more questions than it answers, it is the very fact of understanding what the question was in the first place that makes this book such an utterly astonishing achievement. JMR Higgs has mastered the skill of getting into people's heads, straight to the crux of their thoughts.

The book veers from outrageously funny to painfully poignant. The story flows quickly and is written using a device (that I won't give away here) that makes it uniquely possible to empathise which each of the three central characters. And empathy is really what the point of this book is. Because with every page turn comes a deeper understanding of oneself... one that has come by looking at life from JMR Higgs' perspective. The plot is driven along by a series of mysterious events and situations, which helps make the book a page turner that the reader will want to devour as quickly as possible.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What a little beauty this is. Right from the start the idea feels fresh and exciting, with the members of a once-famous band getting together for a road trip in which they plan to drive around the entire coast of Britain, just to make sure it's definitely an island and that cartographers haven't been lying to them.

The three friends - Will, Russ and Penny - take turns telling their stories as they progress around the coast, experiencing a mix of regret and nostalgia while their journey becomes increasingly surreal. Will keeps finding bottles floating at sea, each containing a page of an alternative and very sarcastic Bible. Penny carries a spade with her at all times and won't tell anyone why. Russ worries that he might have broken the boundaries between fiction and reality.

Higgs is plugged right into the British psyche throughout, with nods to Pratchett & Gaiman's Good Omens and Banks's Espedair Street, and has the good sense to make sure that such a psychadelic road trip stops off in Portmerion, home to that mind-boggling TV show The Prisoner. With rich characters, properly funny jokes and intelligent observations on life, art and love, this is really a very special novella.

(original review on eldink.co.uk)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A delightfully skewed look at music, middle age and the landscape of the Great Britain. And utterly unlike anything else you may have previously read on any of those subjects.

What starts as a simple story of a simple quest, three faded musicians taking to the road one more time, gently evolves into a kind of meta-magical fugue full of unexpected, almost accidental, profundity. The remarkable feat of the book is that it travels through a landscape where just about anything might happen while never compromising the readers belief in the reality of the characters.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This novel makes a very good companion piece to "KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money", a non-fiction work also by Higgs and my favourite book of 2012 by far. They share similar themes of perception, art, intent and meaning, but whereas the latter considers the reasons behind the KLF's burning of a million quid, "Brandy of the Damned" is ostensibly about three members of a defunct band travelling the coast of Britain in a van and trying to make sense of it all.

Mysteries in the book abound and keep the reader engaged: Why is Penny carrying a shovel? Why do bottles containing the remnants of an alternative Bible keep washing up to shore? What do you do when you're no longer young but not quite old?

Beneath the plot, which is wryly told through characters it's easy to emphasise with, lies a deep love of Britain and music. Anyone's who's been stuck in a van, loves grey days, has been to a festival or two and secretly doesn't mind rain so long as it's pattering on a tin roof will hugely enjoy this travelogue...

But beneath the plot and the travelogue lie some Rather Big Ideas, all discussed simply and well, leaving the reader filled with well-being and a sense that the dashboard windows of their mind have just been given a good clean with a frayed old set of windscreen wipers.

This is a really easy book to read. And it's fun. And witty, too. I found it hard to put down and it left me thinking for a few days afterward.

And, without giving spoilers, the bit that explains why Penny is carrying a shovel is the best description of That Sort of Thing I've ever had the pleasure to read.

Read this book: It'll make you want to carry a shovel too. G'wan, now. Let's face it... someone, somewhere, needs it. Might even be you.
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