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Their Lips Talk of Mischief Paperback – 21 Aug 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (21 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057131127X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571311279
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

[G]litteringly explosive ... the perfect summer read. (The Times)

[T]his craftily engineered and winningly nostalgic novel is at last a story of lost illusions. It ends in a flash-frame of aporia, an impossible decision to be made: in lesser hands this might feel like a copout, but Warner knows exactly what he is doing. (Guardian)

Warner has always been the contemporary Scottish writer most interested in literary style; combining slangy, stylised speech with a baroque phrasing and syntax, he is incapable of writing a dull book. (The List)

Moving, funny, richly peopled and written with great gusto. (Financial Times)

[O]ne of Scotland's best, a writer who has begun to create his own, often surreal, imaginative world out of the flotsam and jetsam - the detritus - of modern life. (The Observer)

[An] ebullient but underlyingly sombre book. (Sunday Times)

Their Lips Talk of Mischief paints a sharp picture of deception, obsession and love. It encourages runaways to look forwards rather than backwards, yet never discloses its journey's end. It shows Warner at his finest, all his talents in cahoots. (Scotland on Sunday)

Their Lips Talk of Mischief is that rare thing - a book about books that will actually appeal to those without literary doctorates ... this is a novel that rises above its meta self-reflexiveness to cover frustrated ambition, friendship, desire, love - and a good deal of sex ... Warner has a peculiar eye for detail that is delightful and disturbing. (We Love This Book)

Book Description

Their Lips Talk of Mischief, Alan Warner's first novel with Faber, is a darkly comic tale of hope and humanity against the grim urban and political landscape of Margaret Thatcher's Britain

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By SueKich TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
Do you take any notice of book blurbs? No, me neither. But when Adam Mars-Jones has something to say, I do tend to sit up and take notice. Here's his back cover quote: "Alan Warner has a gift greater than the gift of telling a story: he can make what he chooses to tell us seem like a story we were waiting to hear." I know just what he means, a kind of sublime inevitability - which funnily enough, is touched on in this book in a conversation between the two main characters who yearn to be published authors - though not to the extent that they are prepared to write a book!

The unlikely setting is Acton in the mid-80s. Narrator Douglas Cunningham and Llewellen meet in the waiting-room of the local hospital A&E. Lou (as he's known) has gone to be re-stitched after recent major heart surgery. Cunningham (as Lou calls him) is a Scottish student drop-out with nowhere to sleep. Lou offers him a bed for the night in his squalid tower-block flat. But first, they must get their hands on some booze and chicken dhansak.

And so begins a beautiful friendship. But waiting back at the flat are Lou's gorgeous ex-model girlfriend Aoife and baby daughter Lily. Cunningham just can't help falling in love with both of them. And that's about it really, plot-wise. It's all highly reminiscent of 'Withnail and I' (not that I'm complaining; it must be one of the best male-bonding movies of all time) and Alan Warner's desperate duo are very nearly as monstrously appealing as Bruce Robinson's Withnail and him. Funny, tender and enjoyable.
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Format: Paperback
This a terrific read.The story has a good sense of time and place, being set in Acton during the Thatcherite 1980s. Wit and humour take flight in the speech of the characters, which one newspaper reviewer has, quite accurately, already likened to Bruce Robinson's movie 'Withnail and I'. Anyone who loves that film should enjoy this book. Here the characters want to be writers rather than perform on stage, but the dynamic of ambition and waste between Lou and Douglas is similar. The story is well paced, with lots of drinking and sex and guilt to feed the mischief, and it ends well with at least some atonement. And there's some literary references to enjoy along the way. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
One of the characters in this lovely book dismisses critics and book reviewers as 'just the town councillors of literature'. So one reviews Alan Warner's latest effort with some caution and brevity. Warner has a wonderful turn of phrase and an expert knowledge of pubs, alcohol and social security scams in the 1980s. As noted in other reviews here, the two main characters have more than a touch of Withnail and I about them. Lots of lovely one-liners along the way, my two favourites being 'I'll say this. You're very polite for a Protestant.' and 'Never trust a Catholic who doesn't drink.' Buy this book.
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Format: Paperback
Till you've read about halfway through, this is like an Alan Warner novel with achange of time-frame and location, the Thatcher years as lived through by a small clutch of young people on the edge in Acton, London. It starts out with an immediate friendship, between the narrator (Douglas, a drop-out student from Scotland) and a young couple with a baby daughter. Llewellen like Douglas is a would-be writer, Aoife was a model till she fell pregnant by Llewellen, and they bring Douglas to live on a camp bed in their spare room. As withother Warner novels, there's great immediacy to the settings and the encounters, some very funny jokes, dialoguesand farcical situations, and some that might be funny but jar somewhat.
What's new is the way you find yourself mroe and more trying to see round the corners, and it becomes less evident who is driving events and their developments. This is apparnet in the plot surprises, of which there are plenty, and then more and more as motivation becomes darker, and you cease to be so sure which of the protagonists is the one moving things forwards.
There's a fair amount of literary reference in the pub conversations between Douglas and Llewellen, but no mention of what to me seems the background book, Ford's The Good Soldier, also a tale of two men whose bond may be benign or may be poisoned, and where the women alternate between seeming agents of the action and then its victims. This too is a book more about the chemistry between the people in the household rather than about any one of them.
In the second half of the novel, there are constant reversals, good guys can appear to be villians, or perhaps as just pitiable. And instead of going with what's immediate and vividly present, windows open on what's unsaid or omitted.
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Format: Paperback
I can't imagine how anyone could not enjoy the reading of this book. It's fast, funny, and engaging. My favourite sections were those when Douglas was on his own, such as his lonely Christmas day or after he returns from his night out with Aoife. Some beautiful writing there boyo.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Very inventive and evocative of the times (1980s). The characters are captured so well. Was glad and excited each time I picked it up to read. Straight onto Amazon to buy more of Warner's books when I'd finished this one.
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