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Pompey: A Novel Paperback – 7 Nov 2013
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"He has done for Portsmouth (Portsmouth, for heaven's sake) what Baudelaire did for Paris, Joyce for Dublin and Paul Bowles for Tangier… One of the very best and most absurdly underrated novels of the nineties." (Stephen Fry)
"Disgusting and brilliant – should earn Meades justifiable comparison to Joyce, Celine, Pynchon." (Paul Spike Vogue)
"There is no doubt that Pompey is the product of a brilliant mind: one would not, however, wish to dine with its author." (Nick Hornby Times Literary Supplement)
"The English novel needs its senses to be violently deranged, and this piledriver of a book…might just provide a kick-start." (Elizabeth Young Independent on Sunday)
A paperback reissue of one of the most viciously brilliant 20th century British novels…See all Product description
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Spanning some 40 years in the lives of it's protaganists, Meades travels from back street abortionists to glorious redemtion as he narrates the story of the 'Firework makers' children; The offspring of one Guy Vallender part owner with his brother in a fireworks business based in the eponymous city of the title.
However, do not be mislead into thinking that this is one for the beach or that it is some kind of weighty rags-to-riches tome. It is a book that demands to be read and re-read many times. It has more invention in language and style; more ideas, scenes and plot that can comfortably be discussed here. Every page and chapter is a literary joy.
But... It will leave you, as Meades himself points out, needing to wash your hands once you finish it. For a while it will sit on your bookshelf like a leper, untouchable until you can steal yourself for another dip into the murk. It is not a dirty novel and filth is undoubtedtly the wrong word, too. It simply reeks of the unspeakable, the unimaginable, the unsayable. The Vallender's family secrets are like those of every family, just more so and more indescribably so.
Comical, convoluted and breathtaking and not for the faint of heart... Adjectives have not yet been invented to do justice to this novel. Perhaps i might suggest Meadesian?
There's a bit about Magritte (at least I think it was Magritte); here are two quotes: "It's a clever Belgian who knows his father"; "... the job of the stuff in bottles [perfume] is to socialise the elemental reek which frightens man with its evidence of the generic potency of women." All the other quotes I isolated for inclusion here proved to be too obscene. But funny. Oh yes, Meades does funny. He does it bleakly, rollickingly, obscenely, scurrilously, violently and with added jouissance. He does it, in fact, unforgettably well.
Well, I've read the thing and I'm still not sure what it's about what its about or why. I have some theories and maybe by the time I've read the book again I might be in a fit state to pontificate. At the moment I am exhausted. All I know is that it is very, very funny in a coolly clever and lucidly devastating way. Want to read it? You definitely should.
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