Entertaining Strangers (Salt Modern Fiction) Paperback – 15 Oct 2012
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Taylor achieves a heartfelt yet unsentimental memoir that is also a reconciliation. -- Carol Birch TLS A brave and unsentimental book. -- Diana Athill Riveting, detailed, moving account of his father's Parkinson's, mysterious past, and his own response to it. -- Michele Hanson Guardian A literary novel, with prose like music. -- Sophie Duffy Somehow Taylor has created a penniless, snobbish autodidact who's completely adorable. Prince is the kind of character who comes along once in a lifetime, the kind who echoes in your thoughts for days after reading. The initial absurdity of his preoccupation with ants (and the ensuing repetition of the word 'ants', unleashing laughs which I thought I'd reserved exclusively for Stewart Lee) develops into a more profound leitmotif and ultimately a poignant symbol of his self-destructiveness. The line between tragedy and comedy is redrawn in satisfyingly unexpected ways. Fiction Uncovered This is not to dumb down the novel at all, but to big it up: A literary novel, with prose like music. A novel that demands a reader response. A novel whose many many expletives swirl around hurt lives and confused emotions. A novel that deals with the crunchiness of living on the edge. That deals with families. And the way families can pass on their baggage of abusive behaviour and guilt to the next generation. And the one after that...And it is the stranger who falls through time and space through the front door that holds the key to the past. -- Sophie Duffy Entertaining Strangers is probably one of the more creative and original novels I've ever read. It's definitely an intellectual's book: one clever and gigantic allegory full of surprises, and an abundance of intriguing information about ants. Dreamworld Book Reviews
About the Author
Jonathan Taylor is author of the novel Entertaining Strangers (Salt, 2012), and the memoir Take Me Home (Granta Books, 2007). He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at De Montfort University, and co-director of arts organisation and small publisher Crystal Clear Creators (www.crystalclearcreators.org.uk). He is editor of Overheard, an anthology of short stories for reading aloud (Salt, 2012).
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Top Customer Reviews
The main protagonist: the homeless Jules, whose disturbing past cleverly haunts the text throughout, is drawn irrevocably to the eccentric Edwin. She is essentially a tragic character, for whom there seems to be little hope: reliant, as she is, upon the aforementioned who is self-obsessed and stuck between two worlds: the intellectual and the everyday.
Despite Edwin's attempts at escapism via his obsession and study of ants and through the grandiosity of his own intellect; the banality and baseness of his everyday life encroaches, creating a juxtaposition that adds to the novel's vividity, poignance and humour.
It is also a novel that presents a world of inversions: where success means avoidance; where misery is happiness; where 'Spring is the new Winter'. Yet still the characters make attempts to escape their situation. This push and pull of the positive and negative is echoed through the unusual theme of music: major and minor; happy and sad; concordant and discordant, to which the characters are fascinatingly drawn and repelled by, according to their fears, their beliefs and their emotions.
Incorporating an eclectic mix of intertextuality, this novel has strong philosophical undertones running parallel to the plot, yet it still attains the important balance between complexity and accessibility. Littered with comic irony and hilarious one-liners, this novel is full of 'Entertaining Strangers'. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought this was beautifully written, very vivid and it completely sucked me into the characters' world. Read morePublished 14 months ago by LMS
Purchased as a gift, so I cannot provide meaningful review.Published 23 months ago by Malcolm Smith