- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Canongate Canons; Main - Canons Imprint edition (1 Mar. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857862359
- ISBN-13: 978-0857862358
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Cone-Gatherers (Canons) Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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"Let me alert everyone to the best-kept secret in modern British literature. If you love the novel; if you are interested in books that are humane and wise, not slick and cynical; then treat yourself this year to some Robin Jenkins." (Andrew Marr)
"Like all great masters, his skill is lightly worn, his sentences singing with what he does not say." (The Times)
"A masterpiece of concision and terrible pathos." (Isobel Murray)
"... Few novels in our heritage have the bell-like harmonies of this book ... it has a strange haunting poetic quality, conjuring from a few props a fable of eternal significance" (Iain Crichton Smith)
THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL NEVER RESTED: IN THE WORLD, AND IN EVERY HUMAN BEING, IT WENT ONSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Jenkin's short novel is the stuff of high literature and evokes associations with Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and the bold themes of Joseph Conrad. Also, the novel exhibits a strong and welcome moral sense not often seen modern fiction today. It addresses the intense issues of character and virtue also seen, for instance, in the works of the mid-century Oxford group "the Inklings", especially the novels Charles Williams (such as "The Descent into Hell" and "All Hallows"), though without the supernatural element. As a story of genuine, concentrated pathos, "The Cone-Gatherers" is the sort of haunting novel that brings the reader to a stark confrontation with the truth of human nature.
Duror is the main character really. The book may be titled after the Cone Gathering brothers but it is Duror and his warped mind and view of reality that make the book. At first it begins as nothing more than an old habit of detesting the imperfect, enhanced by his wifes' morbid obesity. But then it starts to get under his skin. Calum, disfigured and a tad soft in the head, seems to have very little going for him. But he's happy. His life is without luxury, his job poor and generally his life is not brilliant. But he is happy. And this gets to Duror. It slowly eats away at him, gnawing constantly at his sanity, lowering him lower and lower until there is nothing left for him but Calum. He cannot stand the sight of him. But he needs him.
The deterioration that Jenkins shows is both amazing and revolting, even a little scary. Read it once, read it twice and reflect on all the meanings that Jenkins gives you.
Neil and Calum, the conegatherers of the title, are like Scottish versions of George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Struggling against the odds they are buffeted by the reaction of everyone they encounter - the imperious lady of the manor, her sympathetic son, and vindictive gamekeeper.
The characters are amazingly well drawn. Duror the gamekeeper seems to me to be one of the greatest ever fictional characters - a man who despite his evil and vindictive behaviour still provokes your sympathy.
Jenkins is clearly a wise writer with an eye for humanity. I say a wise writer, not a clever one. Clever ones generally let their self-regard get in the way of telling the story. Jenkins retreats into the background and lets his prose shine. The quality of the writing struck me particularly in a little sequence when the toffs and their dog encounter the gamekeeper and his. The gamekeeper defers to his better's while his dog puts up with the posh folks' terrier bothering him, all the time making sure its master notes its forebearance. Its just a few sentences but it says so much.
A tightly written masterpiece. Not a paragraph is superfluous. And its old fashioned enough to have a proper climax.
This book has taken my breath away, and I am delighted to have found this exceptional author. I look forward to reading more of his books. It really is hard to believe he is not better known.
Softly spoken with a serrated edge, but if you have eyes to see and a heart that still beats...
Makes you think.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My son needed this for school work so I bought it for him. Can't say he enjoyed the story that much, as it's not something he would choose to read, but the delivery was fast and... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Stellamaris
I had never heard of Robin Jenkins and wish that we had studied his books rather than the tedious tomes we were given in the 80's! This short book was wonderful. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JPP
Beautifully written, passages to savour, sentences that delight the ear like a fine whisky, a gentle resonance and a horrific ending, all held together with an other-worldly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mark John
One of the best things I've read recently: a strange, almost classically tragic story about an arcane occupation (gathering pine cones to seed plantations) and lonely, rejected... Read morePublished 3 months ago by poggiosl
Robin Jenkins starts off this novel with some pretty accomplished prose writing but once it settles into the story then it starts to involve just some quite useless dialogue... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mr. Robert Marsland
Excellent book. Ideal tool when tutoring English literature students.Published 10 months ago by Belted G