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The Fountain in the Forest Paperback – 4 Jan. 2018
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- ISBN-10 : 0571336183
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571336180
- Paperback : 320 pages
- Dimensions : 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.4 cm
- Publisher : Faber & Faber; Main edition (4 Jan. 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 503,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
A gripping police procedural ... Impeccably Oulipian in conception and execution . Sets the author and his readers a bracingly high bar. -- David Collard ― TLS
Rejecting familiar influences of the past 20 years, White joins a handful of contemporary writers who are proving that the novel has never been more alive. He is a serious, engaging voice of the modern city. -- Michael Moorcock ― The Guardian
'White lulls the reader into absorbed bewilderment before weaving the strands together with all the deftness of a seasoned crime writer. Enjoy it as a noir entertainment or as an evocative picture postcard from the past.' ― Spectator
'The Fountain in the Forest is fascinating, beautifully written and really original.' ― Literary Review
A complex and twisting plot with a genuinely shocking and satisfying dénouement . an extraordinary novel where our sympathies are for a cop who as cop represents the very forces of repression the gut of the novel abhors. An astonishing achievement. ― 3:AM MAGAZINE
'I like detecting," Gertrude Stein once wrote. If, in some circles, crime fiction is still associated with penny dreadfuls and mass-market mediocrity, Stein represents a counter-tradition of highbrow and formally adventurous writers who have bent sinister, seeing this residually pulp genre as an ally in the war against a bland literary mainstream. The Fountain in the Forest is a rich, riveting example of this alternative lineage. White's innovation is to fuse his revisionist narrative with techniques associated with Oulipo. More insecure writers would have laboured to show off their erudition and ended up producing drily conceptual fare. White is always convivial company, making ostensibly abstruse speculations seem common sense. White is a restless, endlessly curious, somewhat centrifugal writer. His books are characterised by stylistic innovation, a feeling for place, a love of rogues and rebels. The Fountain in the Forest is no different. It's also the opening salvo in a trilogy. I'm already awaiting the next.' ― Guardian Crime Fiction Book of the Day
'Fantastic. A cross between Derek Raymond and Raymond Queneau.' ― Backlisted Podcast
'White is writing what he likes, how he likes, and his publisher is willing to put out a radically different book regardless of its commercial appeal, which doesn't happen every day.' ― Bookmunch
'A knowledgeably detailed, intriguing and compelling police procedural. The OULIPO stuff is as significant to the narrative as you want to make it. You could read the novel with no knowledge of OULIPO and enjoy it just as well. Yet for those who feel like delving deeper, an examination of White's methods and motives will reveal new layers, extra nuances and a background atmosphere that lends the novel an added eeriness and potency. A book well made: language expertly deployed, place wonderfully evoked, ideas, characters, memories, theories, political subtext brought vibrantly to life, a good story well told.' -- Nina Allan
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Top reviews from United Kingdom
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The book is split into three sections.In the first section we learn of a death in which Rex King is part of the investigating team.
The second part is set in France where a number of characters are introduced and the final part focuses on a battle at Stonehenge in the 1980's before the various strands are brought together.
I thought the writing was overly descriptive and wordy at times and the police investigation was clunky and unconvincing.
In part two,the story was rather rambling and I felt the plot lost momentum to the point that I struggled to recall much of the detail of the first part.
During the third part I just wasn't captivated and engaged sufficiently with the plot or some of the characters who lacked appeal.
I felt at times that the author needlessly had to explain things rather than just trust the reader.
Some other reviewers have explained where the Oulipo elements are and the meaning of all the words in bold which is cleverly done but the novel itself I found a disappointment.
Set mostly in 1985 DS Rex King has not only a murder on his hands, but his friend has gone missing and work is not going as smoothly as he'd like. Policing techniques at that time are explored as King's murder investigation takes us through the streets of London and into the theatre world. Later the story takes us back to the 1970s to a group of hippies who are living in a commune in France, enjoying an idyllic life far away from the strikes and upheavals going on in the UK at this time.
A book to sit back and enjoy. The cover is so beautiful that I strongly recommend getting hold of a paper copy, rather than an e-book. Each chapter contains some bold print words where the author has incorporated the solutions to the Guardian Quick Crosswords in March - April 1985; quite amusing and very clever.
This is a book to savour and think about. Only 300 pages, but it took me twice as long to read as a normal thriller of that length, because of the beautiful style of writing, and the occasional foray into Google to look up events and places mentioned.
Great for Book Clubs or studying. The plot is tidied up nicely, but there is plenty of material for discussion, and perhaps differences of opinion.
A 4* rating from me as I really enjoyed most of this book, but some of the middle section (in France) lost my attention a little. Certainly a pleasure to read (and hold) such a beautifully written book.
There are lots of hidden gems in this book. Quite uniquely, it’s a novel and plot driven by place. Yes please! and there are plenty of them. It’s like a mini history lesson – from the London theatres and streets to the hilltop towns and bayous of the Cote d’Azur. Each chapter title is the name of a day in the 1793 French revolutionary calendar.
The author plays a lot in this novel – is it a mystery, a crime novel or a historical one?Well, all of them and more. For language fans out there, the register in the novel slides down from one end of the scale to another producing music to your ears. Village dialect to the Queen’s English or should that be the tongue of revolutionary France?
The story is a puzzle, a pass the parcel kind of read – unwrap the next part and you’re never quite sure what to expect. Once the music of the text stops, the discovery is neat.
And that’s before you get to the individual words: there are words in bold dotted through the text. These are words which the author has collected from crosswords he used to do and the story as it progresses, winds around them like vines on a wall…
Vines around a fountain in a forest you might say.
The novel is in three parts: the discovery and investigation of the crime; a lengthy flashback to a young backpacker’s time with hippies in Provence; and the partial dénouement (partial because the book is one of a trilogy.) I found the first part boring, the second less so, but marred (for me) by over-elaborate descriptions (e.g. of the fountain), a 4-page gobbet of Provençal history and pages 189 to 201 devoted to Oreste Bonomi and the history of an oven which features later in the plot.) The third section picks up pace with a progression of the plot after an account of the 1985 Battle of the Beanfield which contributes to the book’s recurring theme of police violence.
I gather from other reviews that many readers are attracted by the Oulipo features, the laborious descriptions, the musical allusions and the left-wing thrust of much of the narrative. In the interests of objectivity I have reluctantly given the book three stars, but for me it was a one-star experience. Away from the set pieces, some of the prose is humdrum.