Communion Town Hardcover – 5 Jul 2012
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‘Subtly and deftly, Thompson succeeds in capturing the experience of city life … Thompson can make a sentence sing in a way that is uniquely his own … Turning the pages of COMMUNION TOWN you become aware that here is a new writer working out what he can do, and realising that he can do anything’ Telegraph
‘Ambitious, haunting and beautifully written … Thompson succeeds in making the familiar seem strange and wonderful’ Daily Mail
‘A book packed with powerful, memorable writing … Thompson’s engrossing, memorable debut is worthy of close, appreciative reading not just from Man Booker judges, but everyone’ Sunday Times
‘Thompson's ten interlinked tales, longlisted for the Man Booker this week, deconstruct genre and myth while remaining original and superbly unsettling’ Guardian
‘His writing is highly wrought and beautiful, with that sense of leisure and perfectionism one often finds hanging around the dreaming spires – he’s incredibly intelligent and assumes you are too. As the ten stories unfold you’re left with a vivid picture of an imaginary city with its own character’ The Times
‘This impressive debut captures a city’s shifting personality through ten stories. With unanswered questions and Gothic tinges, its kaleidoscopic approach blends into one bewitching picture’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Subtly linked tales … details are joyous’ Independent on Sunday
‘Wonderfully atmospheric and full of a subtle gothic horror that eats away like dry rot at the timbers of this city, Sam Thompson’s accomplished debut weaves many voice into a beguiling urban chorus’ TLS
‘The 19th century motif of the flaneur – basically a figure who experiences a city through the act of walking – is revived to creepily dreamy effect’ Metro
‘Dreamlike, gnarly and present, COMMUNION TOWN shifts like a city walker, from street to street’ China Miéville
‘COMMUNION TOWN is one of those rare creatures – a first novel that combines ambition with humanity. It is a strange, remarkable work’ Tash Aw
About the Author
Sam Thompson was born in 1978. He read English at Trinity College, Dublin, and is now a tutor at St Anne's College, Oxford. He also writes for the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books and the Guardian. He lives in Oxford with his wife and son.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the chapters are very different they are linked both by the city and by a mysterious man-thing who becomes more prominent (and more terrifying) as the book progresses. The subtitle of "Communion Town" is 'a city in ten chapters' and I think Thompson does succeed in mapping the place whilst at the same time showing how the same environment can be very different depending on whose story is being told. Thompson does not make things easy for the reader, and one has to be prepared for ambiguity, fragmentation, and hints rather than explanation. By the end I found myself reading back over past chapters appreciating the at first indiscernible thread Thompson had woven through them.
I'm not entirely convinced that "Communion Town" works as a whole, but I greatly enjoyed and admired this strange and disturbing novel.
The big question though, is does it actually work? Well, for the most part yes, it does. I'll come back to that later. First off, a quick look at some of my favourite stories.
Gallathea - A down at heel private eye searches the endless city streets for a missing person. This may be the standout tale for me. I suspect the book blurb writer may agree as it's directly mentioned on the back cover. Thompson gets the detective noir flavour of this spot on. Add to that a surreal layer of what may be mind-bending time travel and you'll find one of the some of the collection's most intriguing moments right here.
Good Slaughter - Reminiscent of Joseph D'Lacey and his rather wonderful horror novel Meat, this story follows an employee of a slaughter house as he comes to a shocking revelation about the work that he does and the city as a whole. Possibly the darkest episode in the novel, and all the better for it. There is a raw quality to this story that makes it suitably shocking.
The Significant City of Lazarus Glass - Meet detective Peregrine Fetch, Communion Town's very own Sherlock Holmes. He is endowed with the keenest of analytical minds and uses it to unravel the sinister crimes of the city's criminal fraternity. Fetch's latest case finds him tasked with uncovering the individual responsible for the deaths of the great detective's own contemporaries. This story made the collection for me.Read more ›
Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I don't see this as a set of short stories. The fluid and fractured narrative works like a mosaic of voices which converge and diverge at points throughout the text, and the `story', if there can be said to be such an overarching thing, constructs itself in the interstices of what is told. The multiplicitous voices position this as a self-conscious move away from the authority of a single, omniscient subjectivity, and celebrate the notion of marginality, a defiant rejection of a controlling and structuring centre.
There are some extraordinary moments in this book - the `monsters' who inhabit the limits of Communion Town; the strange beauty of The Song of Serelight Fair - and an amusingly tongue-in-cheek postmodern homage to Sherlock Holmes (via Umberto Eco) in The Significant City of Lazarus Glass.
So this is ambitious, very clever, sometimes a bit too smart for its own good, but always deeply interesting. Just be aware that if postmodernism snarls up your head, this would definitely be one to avoid.
In fact, there were some returning threads, such as the Flaneûr and the man who wants to share his story. There is a lot of loneliness and lost people. Communion Town isn't a happy place. Beyond that the true nature of the city remained elusive. Sometimes it felt like Victorian London, sometimes like a place in a totalitarian state behind the Iron Curtain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This author can obviously write and create a sense of place, but he deliberately sets out to confuse the reader with strange twists and inexplicable asides that do nothing but make... Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2014 by Callum
First published back in July of 2012, British author Sam Thompson's debut novel 'Communion Town' received much attention upon its release, having been longlisted for the 2012 Man... Read morePublished on 5 Jun. 2013 by Chris Hall
Sam Thompson's book at times reads like an exercise in style in which ten short stories are shoe-horned into fitting into a greater puzzle which is the 'City in Ten Chapters', that... Read morePublished on 28 May 2013 by Matthew Haynes
This is a novel told as a succession of short stories, linked by the City, the 'Flaneur' and glimpses of characters from other stories in the book. Read morePublished on 8 May 2013 by Penny Waugh
With an accolade from China Mieville I was expecting great things from this book, and sadly I was a bit disappointed. Read morePublished on 25 April 2013 by Cat R
I really liked the way this book is written. In some ways it is more like a collection of short stories than a novel as each chapter sees "communion town" from a different... Read morePublished on 31 Mar. 2013 by jonim