Mr. Toppit Audio CD – Audiobook, 9 Nov 2010
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'The plot's a cracker ... Elton has an arch wit, an engaging style and a sense of invention that recalls Jonathan Coe' Evening Standard 'Poignant and engaging' Mail on Sunday 'Narrated with wit and vigor. Elton is a brilliant observer' Vogue --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
Q & A with Charles Elton, Author of Mr Toppit
Where did the idea for Mr Toppit first come from?
When I was a literary agent, I worked with the Estate of A.A.Milne and had always been struck by the level of unwanted fame that was foisted on his son Christopher Robin Milne by being a character in Winnie The Pooh. He - and the books - were a global phenomenon in the 1920's and I wondered what would happen today when the outlets of fame - movies, TV, merchandising, the internet - are so much more numerous than they were. That was the only idea I started with. Everything else came as I wrote.
It took you a long time to write why was this?
The book took an embarrassingly long time to write - 15 years. You can put that down to laziness, or - if you're generous - the fact that I was a TV producer with a very busy life. I didn't have a deadline and in a strange way I wasn't writing it to be published - I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was my hobby, like a train set in the attic that I could retreat to when I had time.
Did it change a lot during that time?
I wrote so slowly that I didn't need to do a lot of rewriting. I never planned anything or made notes. Most of the best things in the book came as I went along. I cut about 25000 words from the first half, not plot - just things I had overwritten. The second half is more or less unchanged from when I first wrote it.
The Hayseed Chronicles feel very real; could you see a day when these might actually be written and published?
Some people have thought that the 'Hayseed' excerpts in the book are like the tip of the iceberg and that I wrote much more. In fact, the bits in my book are all there ever were. I thought that the less I put in, the more enigmatic it would be. I suppose it's in my head somewhere - as an exercise I wrote jacket copy for the five Hayseed books, and found that there was more of a plot than I thought. Luke Hayseed's mother turns out to be in league with Mr Toppit.
What are you working on now?
I'm writing another book about a dysfunctional family - this time a strange dynasty of folk singers and political activists. I've written about 20000 words and have no idea what happens next.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
There's nothing wrong with Mr Toppitt, but neither is there anything outstanding. In comparing the book to Jonathan Coe's What A Carve Up! the publisher makes claims for Mr Toppitt that not even its wildest fan could justify.
I liked the sound of this book and was looking forward to reading it, but whilst "Mr Toppit" has an intriguing premise, a strong opening section, and some amusing sequences, overall, it is a disappointment. The characters feel underwritten as well as quite cliched; Luke's troubled, drug-consuming elder sister, the aggressively rude German family friend, the overweight American with an overbearing mother and so on. Unfortunately Luke is the weakest character of all, seemingly not possessed of any personality whatsoever. Perhaps the idea is that he has been overshadowed by his fictional counterpart, but the result of a Luke who narrates most of the book, yet does and feels little of any note, is a distinctly uninvolved reading experience. In truth, none of the characters are developed beyond cardboard cutouts, except in the noticeably stronger middle section of the book where we are taken back to the early days of Luke's parents' marriage, a sequence I particularly enjoyed and found to be the most believable part of the novel - I was disappointed that Charles Elton did not return to this thread.Read more ›
After a promising start, I must admit this book became a bit of a gruelling read for me. I didn't connect with any of the characters, starting with the main narrator: Luke Hayman. Luke's narration is detached, lack-lustre and disinterested. He doesn't speak much, he just watches, but he seems to miss all the vital points. Or he doesn't see them as important. Since he is the main voice in the book, I felt this was quite a big factor in why the overall story didn't work for me.
The character of Laurie just irritated me. I wanted someone to tell her to go away, or ask why she felt she had a right to be there, or do this, but everyone just accepted her. Rachel and Martha were vague figures who never truly came into focus, except in cliches - drug-taking, troubled daughter; unfaithful, disappointed wife. I constantly felt as if there was a deeper story here (something about Jordan, perhaps) but it never quite arrived.
As for the Hayseed Chronicles themselves, the characters of Luke Hayseed and Mr Toppit, to be honest I felt the connection was hazy and feeble. It certainly didn't cause Rachel's problems (though early on when Luke remarks that Rachel was never in the books, as if she didn't exist I hoped that would go somewhere. It never truly did, except as a very tenuous reason for why Rachel was so desperate for attention. But that could just as easily have been inherited from Martha), which were in existence before Arthur's death, and therefore predated Laurie's interference and the success of the books.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The hype surrounding 'Mr Toppit' on its release back in 2009 was phenomenal. In an unprecedented move, publishers Penguin took out an advertisement in The Times newspaper... Read morePublished 2 months ago by madaboutbooks
Read this as part of a book group and was disappointed that it left many questions unanswered.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the most extraordinary & beautifully written books I have read in a very long time. Very sad when it ended.Published on 16 Mar. 2014 by Tabatha Stirling
To compare this rubbish to What a Carve Up is a complete insult to that wonderful work. I rarely throw books away, preferring to donate unwanted tomes to the local charity shop. Read morePublished on 11 Jan. 2014 by D. J. Gomm
A great read and a promising first novel. I couldn't put it down and the only critcism - and I don't know if it really IS a criticism - is that I wanted to know more. Read morePublished on 30 April 2013 by Judith Raddatz
The one thing that Charles Elton manages to convey in his novel Mr. Toppitt is the absolute serendipitous nature of life in general and success in particular, and how chance... Read morePublished on 21 April 2013 by Red Rock Bookworm
The lives of the Hayman clan are inextricably linked to the Hayseed series of children's books, written by the father Arthur Hayman. Read morePublished on 6 Mar. 2013 by JoTownhead
Here is an unusual and absorbing narrative that explores the knock-on effect of knock-out success. Arthur Hayman has written a little-known series of children's books that become a... Read morePublished on 26 Jan. 2013 by Sue Kichenside
I found this book at the back of a book case at a villa in Turkey and as nothing else took my fancy I thought to give Mr Toppit a go and am now overwhelmed by my selection. Read morePublished on 11 Oct. 2012 by V. J. Gladwin