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Little Green Man Paperback – 4 Jul 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (4 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140297774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140297775
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 756,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Little Green Man, Simon Armitage's first novel, draws on the author's gritty Yorkshire upbringing to produce a vivid story of childhood nostalgia and adult disillusionment. Armitage's protagonist is the feckless Barney, thirtysomething, divorced, and alienated from his autistic son. His only passion are his mates, "the old friends, the ones you were brought up with, who go further back than you remember, who've been there since the beginning. You didn't choose them--they're like family. Like blood." When Barney unearths what turns out to be a priceless relic from his childhood days--the "little green man" of the novel's title--he gets back in touch with his old gang: Winkie, Pompus, Stubbs and Tony Football. Desperate to "turn back the clock" and relive their childhood escapades, Barney proposes a game of truth or dare. Each member of the gang "dares" another. Failure to complete a dare leads to disqualification. The winner walks away with the priceless little green man. As the stakes get higher, friendships begin to dissolve as hairy women are seduced, sheep are slaughtered and excrement eaten. In the process the gang reveal some of their deepest secrets, from abuse to impotence, and as the game begins to get out of hand, Barney himself has to confront the responsibilities of adulthood. The problem is that the novel's brutally frank portrayal of both Barney and his gang is so convincing that it becomes difficult to feel any sympathy for anyone. Little Green Man is a tough, uncompromising debut novel, but many fans of Armitage may feel it lacks the originality of his highly acclaimed poetry. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Sensitive not sentimental... real humour, horror, tension and tenderness' Mirror --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It was bad news for admirers of Armitage's poetry when he broke the news that he wasn't going to be writing a poetic first novel. Even more distressing, for women at any rate, was when we discovered that we're not talking about just the one little green man here, but a full cast of immature, sour and downright decaying male characters. And the cover picture is a blatant hazard warning of embarrassing nineteen seventies childhood nostalgia ahead. How could that nice Simon Armitage do this to us?
I'd say give it a go. The novel opens with an exquisitely atmospheric prologue, worth the cover price alone for any poetry fan, before we come down from the attic straight into prosy blokeland. Armitage then quickly starts to draw his audience into a risky game of his own to parallel that in the plot.
The man telling the story, Barney, seems like a nice enough guy, thirty-odd, Northern, a bit like Armitage himself really. Ha. One by one, our assumptions about Barney are deftly slid from under our feet. Maybe he's not quite so nice after all, his laddishness more destructive than charming. Maybe his ex-wife can give us more insight in a casual remark than Barney can muster in a whole book. (And maybe we would be wise not to take Barney's word for it on her iciness . . .) But then, maybe he's had a harder time of it than we first realised. Maybe he's starting to learn from his mistakes and grow up at last. It's when we find out that the git hasn't only been lying to his mates, he's been lying to us too, and yet we're still hoping for his redemption, that we grasp the subtlety of Armitage's achievement.
I could still have done with a bit less of the spangles and curly wurlies though . . .
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Increasingly widely known as one of England's finest poets, Simon Armitage has also had a selection of prose texts published, from the semi-autobiographical (Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-star Fantasist), to witty social commentary (All Points North), new translations of classic texts (Sir Gawain and The Green Knight), and humourous travel writing (Walking Home), there seems to be no limit to the dry West Yorkshireman's talents with the pen. Little Green Man is actually a few years old, however it is a timeless tale of growing-up and having to deal with the realities of life as an adult when all you want to do is enjoy a life with no responsibility - a kids' life in fact. This is something of a recurring theme in Armitage's poetry, but he still manages to imbue his writing with a sardonic ambiguity that bears repeated reading, and with this novel he's got it down to a tee.
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By Gary VINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about childhood and memory -- about the loneliness and meaninglessness of life and the solace we seek in memory. The main character devises a way of reuniting his childhood friends and getting them to take part in a series of ever-scarier dares. The prize is a valuable jade model -- the little green man.
That's all there is to the plot really, and the dares aren't hugely interesting. The interest lies not in the plot but in the life, or rather non-life, of the empty and unendearing central character. It's made the more interesting, when one realises that he is not unusual: he is you and me.
It's about emptiness and anomie -- and one's search for meaning, as an adult, both in memory and in material things. It's about the fragility of relationships and feeling like an alien in one's own land. Behind the trinkets and bangles we console ourselves with -- a motorbike, drink, money, the sun -- underneath there's not much else: only disappointment. Every character's life is squalid and meaningless -- yet they are ordinary people. Neither can solace be gained from the ostensibly big things, like parenthood or friendship: in the end they are all empty. The central character's parenting of his autistic son is an extended metaphor for the routine, ritual futility of parenthood, and of life.
It's immaculately well written -- direct, uncliched and with a voice authentic to the central character. It's a touch derivative in concept and in style, though -- Dennis Potter in Blue Remembered Hills meets Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch. Having said that, it has neither the verve of Potter nor the belly laughs of Hornby (though there are some smiles). But In a market where rubbish is routinely hyped, this is an outstanding book.
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Format: Paperback
The other reviews here are very fair. It is nicely plotted and full of sharp observation and delightful images, but ultimately the hollow at the heart of the main characters leaves you feeling pretty bleak. This isn't per se bad, but I guess "All Points North" had such warmth that I was hoping for more of the same. You won't find it here.
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Format: Hardcover
Bit of a conundrum this. I became more addicted to this book than any I have read for a long time. But at the same time I found in the end that it was a dissapointing experience.
The main theme of the book is a great one, and that was the hook for me. Just how low were the characters going to go and what would they do to each other next. But the characters themselves were never explored in much depth. Armitage being clever with the theme of exploration through their nicknames but nothing else led to little which you could latch on to.
The constantly shifting style also became irritating. At times this almost came across more as a series of linked prose poems than a novel. With different approaches and subjects being tried every chapter. The fire chapter is a classic example, and does start in a way which is very similar to Armitage's Book of Matches collection.
All other reviewers so far have commented on the ending. I was also dissapointed with the pace that it was delivered. Almost as if the author had run out of time or energy or both and banged away at the last few chapters when more depth would have rounded this off nicely.
I don't know, perhaps I'm just geting too old fashioned and should take on board the modern, minimal style of this book. But it just left me cold.
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