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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
The Giro Playboy
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 3 July 2012
The book caught my eye on a friends bookshelf and I haven't had so much fun reading a book in a long while, it is definitely a memorable book.

There are so many characters in it you will identify with and the calamity which befalls the author on almost every page makes it a gem.

I just bought my own copy, I had to, I will read it again I know.
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on 15 January 2016
Stunning writing, in a style reminiscent of Kerouac in his heyday.
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on 8 July 2016
I bought this book to read it on my summer vacation in Marbella at the beach and I couldn't stop laughing while reading it.
Fantastic book if you wanna have a good laugh!, absolutely love it to pieces.
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on 14 March 2013
To be honest I didn't know if I was going to like it with the heavy stream of hyperboles being thrown it's way and likening it to cult writers in the blurb. I thought it was another case of people jumping on the bandwagon, especially with it being the writer's first novel. Still, I managed to read it in one night and it captured something in me that I couldn't put it down. This is why:

Quirky and charming, yet at the heart a beautifully told and descriptive tale of a young man's struggle to find his place in the world. All this set against a backdrop of different towns and cities (so vividly brought to life in the characters he meets). Often funny but tragically so.

I found myself relating to a lot of the feelings he describes even though I hadn't shared many of his life experiences and towards the end found myself actually caring about the protagonist and wanting him to succeed. I think this is definitely down to the skill of the writer; creating a sympathetic, yet not wholly unbelievable central character. This is what brought the writing to life for me.

In places it reads more like poetry than prose but overall I think it works. Also I wasn't sure what the point of having illustrations was to begin with (shouldn't the writing speak for itself?) but within the context of the book, I found it enhanced the writing by adding another dimension and I think that playfulness and inventiveness is it's finest attribute. It certailny left a lasting impression on me.

Altogether a wonderful and entertaining story.
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on 31 March 2007
I bought this ages ago, and nearly kept reading it, but then was scared of diving in, incase it didn't live up to the lovliness of its cover. Daft I know, but I held off, and then started reading it last week. Then I met the guy who wrote it, and babbled on about how much i loved it.

In the morning, still drunk, I cringed at how much I'd raved about the book, and carried on reading.

I was right to rave like.

The tale of a drifting doley, who lives in Brighton and London and is from the North, it's the kind of book that makes you want to write notes in the margins and big circles around paragraphs, with the words 'ME TOO!' tattooed onto the page.

He writes about places I've been, characters I recognise, situations that most of us have been through at some point in our twenties, especially if you're a creative type, but it's not just that.

I laughed out loud at points and felt sick and sad at descriptions of lonely people messing themselves up royally.

The best thing about this book though, no matter who you are or what you've done to yourself, you can empathise with this story mainly due to the sheer lovliness of his writing, which is natural and clever and real, and his knack of describing things that are so bad you can almost taste them.
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on 13 October 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed this first offering from Michael Smith. From his beginnings in Hartlepool's Headland (think Britain's closest knit area) through to Brighton and London, there is never a dull moment.

Having grown up on the Headland myself, I was delighted to see the warts `n' all description of the area and it's many colourful characters. No punches pulled here, the picture is painted beautifully. The whole story follows the same formula.

This has all the ingredients of a great read. Gritty in some parts, dreamlike in others. It brought back many memories of great days gone by. Read it, you'll love it. I certainly did. Can't wait for the next offering
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on 3 August 2015
I did enjoy The Giro Playboy, mainly because my life is full of many similar stories, charachters, scenarios and situations. I also laughed a lot, as I found myself in agreement with some of his mindsets and takes and thoughts on and to life and existence. Saying that, I did find chunks of the book unnecessary and worth skipping. Too often, he slipped into describing a walk and the accompanying weather, like some skunk stoned teenager, which started to became a little tiresome and a little bit "wow man, look at how beautiful everything is", while attaching some equally stoned, meaning to it all.

In all in all though, give it a shot, it's short and fun.
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on 20 March 2006
I just can't fathom the rabid enthusiasm for this book in those reviewers below. It's OK, but it's not great. To be honest, a year or two ago, I would have looked at this book - blurbed by publishers Faber & Faber as a "21st century beat classic" and shuddered, and put it down again. Not just because a formerly respectable (until they published GP Taylor) literary publisher has joined Disney Home Video in stretching beyond endurance the meaning of 'classic,' but because back then I thought of beat literature as a contradiction in terms: pointless, formless blah with an extra helping of chips on the shoulder. Now, of course, with the benefit of a couple of Bukowskis and Fantes under my belt, I know better. Beat can be beautiful.

But ironically, as far as The Giro Playboy is concerned, my decision back then would have been the right one. It's a charming - and charmingly produced - little thing, a ramble through a few months or possibly years (they all, like, run together) in the life of Michael Smith, in his late 20s. He goes to London. He returns to his home town. He goes away again. And then comes back. And all the while he witnesses and records the various eccentrics and low-lifes he encounters, and takes lots of drugs, and drinks, and bums around. And presumably the drugs and drink have taken their toll on his memory and/or his structural senses, because for all its whimsical charm, and some lovely scenes, The Giro Playboy is a mess.

Perhaps Faber were under the influence when they took it on, or intended it to be read like that. Or they were seduced by its 'underground' 'countercultural' qualities - Smith performs the book as a live piece and originally published it himself, in pizza-box format, if my memory is sufficiently unaddled - and forgot to check whether it was actually very good. Or indeed if there was enough of it: the book clocks in at 220 pages, but given that very many of these are faux-naive illustrations by Smith, and almost all the text pages are just half-filled, the actual page-count is more like 80.

So if it's beat lit you're after, stick with the big guys: there's more poetry in a page of Bukowski and better writing in a paragraph of Fante than in all of The Giro Playboy. If you're not sure whether to trust a reviewer, click "See All My Reviews" and you can find out more about their tastes generally, and make up your own mind from there.
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on 17 December 2005
Billions of years since its unexpected formation, the North East of England has finally spewed out the most unexpected and unlikely of heroes. "The Giro Playboy" is by far one the most carefully crafted and beautiful beatesque novels ever written. This book cuts closer to the bone than a drug fuelled Butcher with a Stanley Knife. The long sought romantic desires and well investigated Bohemian ideals on the sunny streets of Brighton, quickly retune themselves to the grim sound of reality faced in every "Run away hole". The author somehow captures "that" feeling we have all most certainly felt as we endlessly attempt to feel included in some kind of cool imaginary romantic fling, be it with place or person(s).This is to Literature and culture what "The Queen Is Dead" was back in 1986. Let it slip away at your peril!
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on 15 May 2006
I really enjoyed reading Michael Smith's book and would recommend it to anyone else who wonders, wanders and ponders middle-youth to do themselves a joy, and read this book.

There's a truth in The Giro Playboy that brought tears to my eyes. It's beautifully naieve yet sometimes frighteningly candid and knowing. Personally, I loved the illustrations. I bought the Pizza Box limited edition as well and I find it a piece of rare beauty.

The story is so incredibly rich in imagery, you can't gobble it all up at once otherwise you'll miss the point. Here is a writer that walks around slowly, his eyes (albeit sometimes dilated) are steadfastly open and his voice is wonderfully articulate.
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