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Satan Wants Me Paperback – 16 May 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dedalus Ltd; Reprint edition (16 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903517583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903517581
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Irwin is a writer of immense subtlety and craftmanship, and offers us a vivid and utterly convincing portrait of life on the loopier fringes of the Sixties. Satan Wants Me is black, compulsive and very, very funny. --Christopher Hart in The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Robert Irwin was born in 1946. He read Modern History at Oxford and taught Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. He also lectured on Arabic and Middle Eastern History at the universities of London, Cambridge and Oxford. He is the commissioning editor for the TLS for The Middle East and writes for a number of newspapers and journals in the UK and the USA. He is a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature. He has published six novels: The Arabian Nightmare (1983), The Limits of Vision (1986), The Mysteries of Algiers (1988), Exquisite Corpse (1995), Prayer-Cushions of the Flesh (1997) and Satan Wants Me (1999). He is the author of ten works of non-fiction: The Middle East in the Middle Ages (1984), The Arabian Nights: A Companion (1994), Islamic Art (1997)and Night and Horses and the Desert: The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature(1999), Alhambra(2004)and For Lust of Knowing; The Orientalists and Their Enemies(2006), Camel(2010),Mamluks and Crusaders(2010),Visions of the Jinn; Illustrators of the Arabian Nights(2010), and Memoirs of a Dervish(2011). He is also the editor of The New Cambridge History of Islam vol.4 Islamic Cultures and Societies to the End of the Eighteenth Century (2010)


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought this book after reading Irwin's "Arabian Nightmare" and being very impressed by the mix of erudition, atmosphere and deft storytelling. While this novel is perhaps not quite so assured (Irwin is, apparently, a scholar of Arabic history), it is still an excellent read, full of dark portents and hints of deeper mysteries which kept me turning the pages well into the night. Unlike The Arabian Nightmare - which is a story of different stories that sometimes advance and sometimes hinder the main plot - Satan Wants Me is written in diary form. While this technique can sometimes be constrictive to an author, Irwin uses this format in a playfull and highly engaging manner - making it almost a character in the story in its own right. For this is a diary which (in a perverse inversion of the usual nature of a diary as a private repository of personal feelings) is meant to be read: it is one of the exercises which the "Black Lodge" he has joined require of him. Twice a week his journal is read by his satanic mentor, and it's contents are mintutely criticised. I think this is the strongest point of the book - the main character is selfish, spiteful, immature; utterly unsympathetic, and yet you do feel for sorry for him as you wince at the honesty of what he writes, knowing as you do that it will soon be read by someone else (often by the person he is actually writing about). Which brings me to the main element of this book - it is very, very funny. Laugh-out-loud funny, in fact. It is at once deeply serious and deeply farcical, erudite yet with a lightness of touch which makes it both unsettling and hilarious at the same time. In short, a book well worth reading. Some nice twists in it too.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had a weird relationship with this book. It took me a while to get through, it didn't really grip me, and yet, when I finished it I immediately wanted to read it again. There's really two different novels here - one is a Withnail type comedy of late 60s bohemian life, the other is a pretty dark look at Satanism and its insidious power. I found the last few chapters, or diary entries if you will, focused these 2 elements really well - there's black humour, particularly in the acid trips, but, in the real world, some seriously disturbing stuff is going on. Makes you nostalgic for the 60s yet mighty glad it's over.
Recommended for a read - 3.5 stars is probably a fair score.
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By A Customer on 11 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
Kinda weird this. Summer of '67 well evoked. I loved the passage where Johnny Kidd [late of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates] acts as Virgil conducting the protagonist through the lower regions of the Inferno. Acid trip induced wouldn't you know! Anyhow they encounter Russ Conway playing The Moonlight Sonata. Hell indeed!!
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Format: Paperback
This is the tale of a 1960s student and his fascination for the occult. Told in the form of a diary, which his sinister mentor at the Black Book Lodge must read, this is a dense, claustrophobic tale. It's anarchic and weird, and only near the end does it lose its way in trying to deliver a conventional ending. It's quite fun for most of the way though, albeit in a very dark way. Never laugh out loud funny, it does prompt the occasional wry smile. However, for a book about the occult set in 1967 it drops some real factual clangers, and suggests that research was sloppy or non-existent. The narrator buys albums before they were actually released, hums tunes that didn't exist at the time, and has us believe he is a Sagittarian with Venus in Virgo (physically impossible). Something of a cult success, but not as brilliant as you'd hope.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great plot; superb, vividly drawn, fascinating, varied characterisations; clear, effective prose; marvellous, sick, immature, self-centred bad behaviour; the blackest of black humour; genuinely innovative story structure (the diary format referred to by the other reviewer is by turns the instrument and the subject of many of the plot developments - very clever).
I love when you get that feeling that "someone has been here ahead of me" when you're reading a book - little things that are put in early on and their significance only revealed much later so that you get that "ohmigod" deja-vu feeling - this has loads of those.
The prose is full of marvellous little pearls you wish you'd thought of yourself: "there is a methedrine to our madness" (on his rationale for something they did on an acid trip) and lots lots more. Buy it. I'm getting Arabian Nightmare next.
Just one thing Robert, you go DOWN the hill from the station to get to the Maltings! :-)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At first I was annoyed by how much Mr Irwin name-dropped his extensive knowledge of occult literature. It was so heavy that I was just plainly aggrieved that I wasn't as familiar with medieval occultists as I perhaps should have been. Never mind, that part of the book passed and I felt the story had improved, though my Kindle was informing me that there was little left to read. I wondered how this fanciful psychedelic trip through late-60's London would 'wrap up'. Which brings me to the disconnect and I won't spoil too heavily but I will say that the narrative takes a turn after the main protagonist has an experience on LSD while 'in hiding'. Characters from earlier in the book return to the main story arc but with an insanely different dynamic forged within the group. They play this out not even questioning why? ...and some of the relationships suffer paradigm shifts!

I am glad that the Cairo Working was explained in detail near the end but, because of the way in which the narrative had shifted, I felt that it was added as a necessary afterthought. The Black Book Lodge at Horropollo House seemed impotent in many ways and yet there were powerful occult rituals hinted at having been performed. Just when I thought that there actually might be something in this accidental occultist's experience, it was dropped, straightened out and abandoned in the banal mundanity of everyday existence.

The story bucked and writhed just like a hippy chick on LSD at the height of her pleasure but, ultimately, the come down over-shadowed the high.
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