The Death of an Ordinary Man Paperback – 5 Jul 2004
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'A virtuoso variation on a theme...a novel of force and eloquence' -- Sunday Telegraph
'An appallingly intelligent writer...a dense, subtle, sensitive, perfectly shaped fiction' -- Guardian
'Unsparing brilliance' -- Metro
'What he is doing is wonderful, extraordinarily dark, and yes, important. It is important because he is a major writer' -- Independent on Sunday
About the Author
Glen Duncan's previously acclaimed novels are I, LUCIFER; LOVE REMAINS; and HOPE. He lives in South London.
Top customer reviews
However, persist I did (after all he got me reading werewolves!) and I ended with the feeling that I've lived half blind to all that was going on around me, so unaware and incapable of observation. And of living at this level anyway. I'd like to go back and do it all again, properly.
Such tension and twists in expectation. Breathtaking.
Duncan has a great mastery of words and had me spellbound all the way through this book. He did an incredible job in showing the reader the complexities of our relationships and forces us into facing up to unthinkable scenarios and wondering how we would cope with them. The way that he gets under the skin of a bereaved family is astounding and painfully accurate. This book is shocking and at times harrowing, but exquisitely written and I was captivated by it. If you enjoyed Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones then this is one I would highly recommend to you.
It is amazing how completely Duncan pulls off the reader's suspension of disbelief. The trick is so simply and so elegantly performed that within a few pages you are hooked. Nathan is dead, he's not exactly sure how, but his question is only gradually answered, and by then it has mutated to why? There is something he is still finding hard to contemplate, something that happened in his past. For now he is the ghost at his own funeral. His wife Cheryl is there, as strong and beautiful as ever, though there was something wrong between them, and he is fumbling towards that answer too.
Curiosity is the key; courage and truth may help to provide the answers. This book has a moral certitude about it that is all-but miraculous. It doesn't preach, it doesn't prescribe but it does offer something more tangible than a salutary story might be expected to provide. It is both tender about death and life and free of any kind of junk philosophy. I'm stunned at the intelligence, sensuality and sheer writing talent on show in this book.
How can I put this eloquently, yet convey my emotion for this book? I loathe and detest it. I hope never, ever to be forced to read a single page of it ever again.
So you may be asking, why did I give it such a high rating? The answer is simple, Duncan is a master wordsmith. The tempo of the sentences match the mood of the book, confused at the start, gradually becoming more understandable as Nathan begins to understand. This is also the reason why it did not get five stars, because it is incredibly hard to get into. Duncan's other books that I have read (I, lucifer and Weathercock) I could not put down for days at a time, but this book took me weeks to read through it. Nevertheless, the thoughts it inspired me with as I gradually got through it were well worth the effort, and I would recommend anyone to read it.
So in summary, this book is bleak, bleaker even than anything by Chuck Palahniuk, but it's a work of genious of words.
This is a book of two horrors (in Duncan's own words):
The first horror is that there is horror, and the second horror is that you can live through it.
Trying hard not to give anything away, we start with a man floating above his own funeral and trying to remember what happened, He follows through to the wake and we see (through his eyes) how his family are coping and he/we can also sense what they are thinking.
He is trying to remember and we as readers are trying to understand his circumstances. This was a tough book to read, but very good at capturing the thoughts and reality of ordinary people. Dropped this back to three stars as it took a while to get into and I was a little underwhelmed by the conclusion. Having said that this was an emotional book and well written, I can see why the author has the reputation that he does.
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