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Skios Paperback – 4 Apr 2013
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'Farce is theatre. I wouldn t have thought it possible to whisk up a novel that is an exquisite, hilarious reflection of the stage format. Michael Frayn s Skios is just that a brilliantly plotted skirmish through events on a Greek island where an important foundation is holding its annual gathering. I loved it.'
The Spectator, Books of the Year
'Michael Frayn's brilliantly plotted Skios, set in and around a plausibly farcical cultural centre in Greece, is laugh-aloud funny, as fine as anything his mentor Wodehouse ever wrote.'
Philip French, The Observer, Books of the Year
'A witty Rube Goldberg construction of a novel... Think 'Being There' set to the staccato pacing of 'Noises Off', and hold on to your funny bones.'
'The flair for farce that gave Frayn s play Noises Off such comic brio is here uproariously let loose across the pages of a novel. A mix-up with suitcases on a Greek island plunges a pompous elderly lecturer (en route to a cultural symposium) and a raffish young character heading for an amorous assignation into a helter-skelter comedy of errors. The result is a bravura feat of nimbly plotted mishaps and misunderstandings.'
Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times, Books of the Year
'Skios, Michael Frayn's new novel, his first for 10 years, truly does make you laugh out loud.'--The Observer
'Frayn's latest novel Skios is a side-splitting comic delight, which takes in almost every sub-genre from drop-your-pants farce and slapstick to verbal jokes and a satire of intellectual poseurs.' --The Stage
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Skios, Michael Frayn's most recent novel, is a story of mislaid identity, misdirected passion and miscalculated consequences.See all Product description
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Apart from mistaken identity, many other familiar devices of the genre are present: lost clothing, thwarted romantic designs, preparations for a public event which is bound to go awry. It is all firmly in the Wodehouse tradition.
Skios is elegantly written and, particularly in the first half, pretty funny. Frayn is good on the fatuousness of so many lectures of this type (well captured by the title of Dr Wilfred's talk: 'Innovation and Governance: The Promise of Scientometrics').
But Frayn's literary experiment is not, I think, entirely successful. Although some relaxation of the laws of probability is inevitable in a farce, the events related here go beyond the frontier of the merely improbable into the land of the frankly incredible. Too often the reader finds themselves saying, in Victor Meldrew style, 'I don't believe it!'.
The other weakness is the ending, which is unsatisfying and arbitrary. It is almost as if Frayn simply lost patience with assembling the intricate Swiss watch of his plot and simply threw the thing against the wall.
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