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Little Hands Clapping Hardcover – 4 Feb 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847675298
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847675293
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 613,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Quirky and original, and the storytelling is truly virtuoso. A literary treasure." (LOUIS DE BERNIÈRES [on TIMOLEON VIETA])

"Oh, how we love Dan Rhodes. Reliably odd but fabulous." (Guardian)

"Absolutely flawless comic writing. Original fresh and funny." (Observer [on GOLD])

"Surely the true best of Granta's Best [Young British Novelists] list. Everybody should go out and buy Timoleon Vieta Come Home ... A story worthy of W.G Sebald, universal in its scope and ambition." (ROSE TREMAIN Daily Telegraph)

"Rhodes is that real, rare thing - a natural storyteller." (PAUL BAILEY Sunday Times)

"Dan Rhodes's books are gloriously strange. Who but Rhodes would write a laugh-out-loud funny novel . . . Some people won't get it at all - indeed, will be enraged by it - but fans of The League of Gentlemen and Mitchell and Webb will see exactly what he's trying to do and love him for it." (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 2010-02-01)

"Suicide museum horror meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez romance, welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Dan Rhodes." (John O'Connell Waterstone's Books Quarterly 2010-01-01)

"Little Hands Clapping ought to be the book that brings Rhodes out of the 'cult favourite' bracket . . . Indeed, the most moving aspect of the book is not what happens to the characters, but what it does to the reader: reading it is like taking a deep breath into the lungs of your imagination." (Scotland on Sunday 2010-01-24)

"Dan Rhodes is a storyteller par excellence, a purveyor of the bleakest, funniest black comedy around, and an author with no obvious peers . . . [Rhodes delivers] a strange, surreal gothic fable laced with humour and pathos, a novel with a heart-warming and all-too-rare humanity at the core of its inventive and more than a little strange plot . . . Combining heady romance, nihilism and despair, human failings, and a fair amount of spider munching, this is a unique, sparkling story. Dan Rhodes is a writer to treasure." (Doug Johnstone List 2010-01-23)

"The sense that this is a fairy story, with all the implications of a moral message and an investigation of human nature that come with it, runs through the book and is heightened by its title . . . His gentle yet clever telling of the monstrous events at the museum finds humanity in the horror and makes his characters' unpleasant antics seem almost whimsical . . . After reading Rhodes's book, many little hands should be clapping very loudly indeed." (Alice Fisher Observer 2010-01-31)

"A sublime, brilliant novel . . . Rhodes's most accomplished yet." (Doug Johnstone Scotsman 2010-01-30)

"Rhodes manages to turn this knockabout plot into an amusing fable about thwarted altruism and good intentions gone askew. It should please cynical idealists and idealistic cynics alike." (Financial Times)

"A brilliant and stylish yarn which entertains from start to finish." (The Skinny)

"It has a gothic front cover that Tim Burton would be proud of." (Big Issue)

"While never losing sight of the monstrousness that ensnares his characters, Rhodes remains gloriously, mordantly funny." (Independent)

"Rhodes's prose is drily understated and, while events steer well clear of the plausible, the whole piece has a fable like credulity." (Andrzej Lukowski Metro 2010-02-11)

"clever, fun and beautifully written" (The Short Review)

"They are clever, fun and beautifully written, but in the end, we don't need to believe the outcomes could be real... Buy the book for some wry laughs and clever stylised observations of human nature in terms of how men and women woo, love and lose each other." (The Short Review)

"Little Hands Clapping is a great book in that that's what you want to say when you've finished it." (The Truth About Lies)

"Hackneyed concepts such as the meeting of eyes on an underground train, are not merely subverted by the hopelessness of their characters, but moving for the delicacy with which they are described . . . This book will not appeal only to Rhodes' numerous current fans, but to pretty much anyone who can stomach a bit of gruesome vulgarity in a love story." (Oliver Marre Spectator)

"As heart-warming and gruesome as a fairytale . . . By the end, anything could happen. And it just might." (Docklands)

"Dan Rhodes' fiction is idiosyncratic, a magical realist mixture of the quaint, the sweet and the distinctly unpleasant narrated in an unemphatic, reassuring style." (Guardian)

"The intertwined stories are varied and the descriptions rich." (Claire Ennis Evening Express)

"This is a crowded, lively book, full of kooky flights of tangential fancy, arresting descriptions of odd details and engaging characters racked with unusual problems. It is also very gruesome . . . extremely disturbing." (Toby Clements Review Magazine)

"Rhodes weaves tangential storylines together with exceptional skill, drawing on contemporary journalism, gothic literature and magical realism. Little Hands Clapping is compulsively readable, ghoulish storytelling - a macabre novel on par with the fiction of Roald Dahl." (The Age (Melbourne))

"A macabre, brilliant and terrifying novel. Good strong stuff." (Michael Holroyd Guardian)

Book Description

The darkest, most twisted novel yet from the author of Timoleon Vieta Comes Home

'Totally sick and brilliant. He sucks you into his world. I loved it.' Douglas Coupland

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Where can one start in trying to write about the latest novel from Dan Rhodes? The reason I start this with that question is because you are reading away and then somewhere around page 60 something slightly dark and disturbing is mentioned in such an off hand and subtle way you almost have to re-read the paragraph one or two times to actually believe what you have just read. It's something that isn't hinted at in the blurb and so I am going to try and write about the book without mentioning it as giving it away would not ruin the read but maybe spoil the book a bit.

The book starts in the strange setting of a bizarre German Museum where an unnamed `old man' works and lives. He isn't quite security guard and isn't quite curate, he is quite curious. The fact in the opening chapter we meet him as he wakes in the night from sleep, hears there is someone downstairs ignores it and eats a spider instead before he calmly goes back to sleep leaves you filled with intrigue (well it did me) by page 8. Bring in his acquaintance with Ernst Frohlicher, the doctor everyone loves and admires and you set the seeds for a very interesting and unexpectedly dark tale about a truly shocking crime the become embroiled in.

Dan Rhodes has again, quite like in novel Timoleon Vieta Come Home, spun in a story set in Portugal where in a small town three children are born and all the local old town folk know that two of them are destined to be together forever and one will be born to love one but eternally be rejected and consumed with this unrequited love.
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Format: Hardcover
In the Museum of Suicide lives an Old Man. By day he shepherds the occasional visitors about the exhibits and by night he removes the corpses of the suicides, who have misguidedly decided that they want to die in a place that understands their emotional state. He is aided by Doctor Frohlicher; who takes the corpses away at night and stores them in his garage, before eating them with his dog.

Somewhere in Portugal two beautiful children are born, Mauro and Madalena. Immediately the people of their town know they should be together, but as they grow older it becomes apparent that Mauro is world class beautiful, whereas Madalena is only small town beautiful, and so inevitably she is drawn to the Museum of Suicide, the Old Man and an appointment with Doctor Frohlicher.

Dan Rhodes knows his audience and unashamedly writes for them. This book is dark - gleefully so. There is no doubt that Rhodes is striving to be odd, but he manages this for the most part without feeling contrived.

It's a pleasure to read a book in which the parameters are so clearly defined. From the first page you know what you are going to get; if you enjoy the blackest of humour then you are in safe hands. Rhodes revels in his strangeness and in places is very funny indeed.

Each character has an extensive, quirky back-story and the majority of these histories are brilliant, however, the depth of these character studies is one of the few weaknesses in the book. Rhodes had so much pleasure in creating these grotesque people, that in a few cases he sacrificed relevance and plot progression for maximum weirdness.

The other small problem is one of tone. At times I felt I was reading a YA book and not the adult book intended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Little Hands Clapping is a novel that is quite unlike anything I've read recently. Told as a dark fairy tale, it has been compared to the movies of Tim Burton - although I am not sure the comparison is entirely valid.

Largely set in a Museum of Suicides in Germany, it tells the stories of the old man who works there, a doctor, a young couple of unusually beautiful villagers in Portugal, and various other people. Some drift in and out of the story in a quick dash of fairy tale prettiness, others appear again and again.

Throughout the book, a musical voice is maintained. Stories move quickly through plot, and the characters are archetypal (though not necessarily archetypes you've encountered before in fairy tales), simple, and all the more beautiful to read about because of that. The one thing that cannot be found in this story is a hero. Every character in this story has something dark or quirky or twisted in them, or in their past. No one is simply heroic.

Compared to Tim Burton's movies, this book is much more willing to break taboos, and when its characters are perverted, they are perverted to a point that not everyone may be comfortable with. Which is not to say that the book ever approaches the effect that someone like Glen Duncan can have - in Little Hands Clapping, the horrors of sinister minds are dealt with in a quaintified, pretty way, perhaps delving into the Gothic and magical realism, but never handled as complex psychological, harrowing, real world matters. And it gets away with it.

Perhaps fittingly, then, the theme of the book is beauty. Above all else, there is beauty, and the alluring, mesmerising effect it has. Two of the main characters are iconic beauties. Another character has such heartbreaking beauty that no one can refuse her.
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