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Damascus Paperback – 3 Mar 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (3 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099477548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099477549
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 522,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Beard is a talented writer, crafting many scenes with luminous precision" (Time Out)

"Damascus recounts a day in the life of young lovers Spencer and Hazel, 1 November 1993. It's the day they finally meet again after years communicating only by phone. It's also the day that they appear, at various points throughout the book, to be aged 10, 13, 18 or 21 or indeed, in the opening chapter, zero. It may spoil the novel to give away its ending" (Jonathan Romney Guardian)

"The climactic showdown is not only an apt marriage of the novel's form and content-but also gently comic, the characteristic tone of this undertaking. Ludic in a peculiarly British manner-An assured achievement" (Times Literary Supplement)

"'Like Nick Hornby and Jonathan Coe, beard comically unhinges style, character and point of view to tell us that indeed we are in the chaos of the contemporary world'" (New York Times)

Book Description

'One of the most ingenious, resourceful and entertaining novelists in England' Philip Hensher

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An impressive book which only just fails to live up to the excellence of Beard's first novel. Beard continues to experiment with structure and is proving to be quite a master of it. Looking forward to his third book when it comes out.
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Format: Paperback
I got quite bored reading this. The characters are quite well drawn, but the plot is random, as you'd expect from something garnered entirely from one newspaper. Very thin on ideas after page one, not something I'd recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c22ad68) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c232900) out of 5 stars I absolutely loved this book. 21 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is probably one of the most refreshing books I've read to date. It's rich form kept me interested, allowing me to finish it within a week between long hours at school and tons of homework. The parallel lives of the two main characters--meeting at certain points in their lives without ever knowing it--helped culminate a lovely, almost innocent love story. It's a novel about stepping out of your rut in life, taking chances and risks. I bet the next day was November 2, 1993 :-)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c9cd180) out of 5 stars A complex, excellent and well thought out piece of writing 16 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In brief, Damascus weaves the stories of relatively anonymous people, any one of which could be your neighbor, or seated next to you on the train, by intertwining their past lives with their present lives. A well thought out and complex piece of fiction, this book is wholy worth reading based on the merits that after every chapter, it forces you to examine your own life, and to question your past, your present, and your future, both in parts and in totem. And not only does it provoke thought, it carries the reader through to the last page, always wanting to know more about the characters, the plot, and eventually the reader himself. Beard develops his plot with uncanny ability to combine what appear to be separate vignettes or snapshots of his characters lives into a cohesive story. The reader inevitably comes away from the book comparing him/herself to one of the characters, and knowing examples of all the others. For anyone who is intelligent and is up to the challenge of a book that will not only entertain but also make you think, Damascus proves an excellent choice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3339fc) out of 5 stars Coincidence...or not? 30 May 2000
By Chris MB - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like Geoff Nicholson's Bleeding London, Damascus relies on a great deal of intersecting between characters, times and places. Beard uses this very interesting technique as well as a non-linear timeline to tell a compelling and often hilarious story. His characters are incredibly well developed and his writing is accomplished.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c72360c) out of 5 stars Entertaining Story/Clever Plot Devices 16 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As the day, November 1, 1993, progresses from dawn to dusk, so do the lives of the characters beginning with the births of the principal characters, Hazel and Spencer. Strangely, all events in the story occur on that date. But the story does not follow a straightline progression but parallel courses (just like the characters' lives), because Beard switches cleverly from pivotal past events of each character's life (except for one) back to the present until the story's climax at which time all the lives intersect. This device enables us to watch the characters' lives develop so we can learn how they got to the present (and their current predicaments). Ultimately I found each character sympathetic.
Overall, this is a book of effective, entertaining writing that enabled me to ignore a muggy gray Saturday.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c92ebdc) out of 5 stars Characters are not quite real 19 Mar. 2001
By Timothy Haugh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The conceit of this book is that it is always the same day--November 1, 1993. It traces the lives of a number of different characters but, even though they age as the book progresses, the day is the same. It is an interesting structure but I don't see that it adds a lot to the story.
Additionally, there are many things that are hard to pin down. Beard is constantly giving lists of possibilities. For example "somewhere in the Kingdom, in Quarndon or Northampton or Newry or York, in Kirkcaldy or Yeovil or Lincoln or Neath" runs part of the first sentence of the novel. A couple paragraphs later it's "somewhere in the Kingdom, in Harlow or Widnes or Swansea or Ayr, in Reading or Glentoran or Nantwich or Hull." This is followed by many more place-name lists. And he doesn't just do this with places. We're given possible advertisements, sporting events, magazines, TV shows, and on and on with the lists. I found this to be very irritating after awhile and started breezing through these lists to get to the meat of the story.
And Beard does have something interesting to say here. He is saying something about how people tend to look for a sign to help them know whether they are living right rather than making decisions for themselves. Everybody in this novel is looking for a conversion experience (like Paul's on the road to Damascus--hence, the title) to know with absolute certainty that what they've chosen is the perfect thing. Of course, this leads these characters to empty lives.
And herein lies the main problem with this novel for me--the characters. They are somewhat interesting but mostly unlikable and then, in the last few pages of the novel, they all change. They all somehow overcome their inhibitions and do the right thing for themselves. The potential serial killer realizes his problems, the boy and girl overcome their fears and get together, and the man trapped indoors by panic attacks can go outside. Perhaps they all had the conversion experience they needed but I couldn't buy it. They just didn't seem like real people.
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