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VINE VOICEon 30 May 2000
Reading this book was a very strange experience, but quite an engaging one. The protagonists murder (seemingly without consequences) whenever they are inconvenienced or likely to get into trouble, and the more bizarre aspects of this story happen along with humdrum daily details about their money mismanagement and nights out on the town which make the whole thing oddly realistic and fantastic at the same time. I think, as one previous reviewer mentioned, that it is indeed a meditation on hell, but if so it is a rather secular and horrifying one.
In tone it seems rather like a nightmare someone had once and wrote up as a novel - it's that strange but oddly compulsive.
I'd read another book by this guy.
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on 4 December 2014
excellent product
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on 12 February 2005
I have never read such a mad story in all my life. I loved it and couldn't put it down. I felt lost once I'd finished it - craving more from this fantastic author. I passed the book on to my 21 year old daughter - she too enjoyed it very much. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you wonder. I'd definitely recommend this book
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on 16 November 2016
Strange ending
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on 10 May 2001
A great book, that repays frequent re-reading. I can almost smell the beery farts of Tam and Richie. I would love to make a film of this, it would be a classic along the lines of "Withnail And I." My only (slight) criticisms are:
1. Mills doesn't go far enough in depicting the squalor, and never once mentions Richie and Tam's toilet habits. These are the sort of chaps who would relish farting in your face first thing in the morning. And the amount of beer they drink, they would always be on the toilet (where IS the toilet, anyway? In the caravan? It's never mentioned) or relieving themselves behind a hedge. This seems prudish of Mills and detracts from the realism of the story.
2. The accidental murders, whilst funny the first time round, also detract from the reality of the story, giving it a stylised, rather unreal (surreal?) feel, but perhaps that was the author's intention.
Despite these very minor quibbles, I recommend this book to virtually everyone. It is NOT badly written as some have claimed, in fact it is very well written, in a calm, deadpan style that is so dry that one fears for the sanity of the narrator. There's a claustrophobic sense of endless repetition - indeed there are two whole scenes, at the beginning and towards the end, which are repeated word for word.
Someone make a film of this book, please. And use Tam's (or is it Richie's?) warped Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden tapes as the soundtrack.
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on 14 April 1999
I don't understand why this book has received so much praise. I found it boring and couldn't make it to the end. It's full of repetitions. The author keeps describing the same situations over and over again. The characters are very thinly drawn. Nothing really happens. You keep reading because you are frustrated and think that something surely is going to happen given the numerous "hints" given by the author. But the more you read, the more frustrated you become. Maybe that's the point of this book? Keeping you frustrated...But then, sorry, it's not the kind of book I can appreciate.
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on 4 July 2015
A classic
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on 18 January 2016
If I could have given zero stars I would. A book in which nothing happens......repeatedly. And they try to make a joke of it. Terrible.
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on 12 July 1999
Magnus Mills has taken an initially dumbfounding scenario - a gang of fence builders in Scotland - and given us a deliciously colourful and economically written novel which bursts with larger than life characters, a well stocked cornucopia of black humour and an ironic view of obsessive behaviour. The plot isn't so much what is written on the pages but what is construed by the reader's imagination from clues scattered by Mr Mills. It can be read as a light and somewhat puzzling book or it can be worked at and fine tuned with much more satisfying results. I look forward to Magnus Mills' next with eager anticipation.
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on 14 July 1999
The hype that followed Magnus Mills' book on discovering that he was not only a Booker prize contender but also a London bus driver originally put me off buying this book. But eventually buy it I did and what a revelation. It is pretty stark prose on a subject matter that none would dream of writing about. The dialogue is minimalist but the story line is unusual with many unlooked for events. Who would have thought that fence-making could produce such a masterpiece. Buy it, borrow it, whatever but give it a read!! You will be glad that you did.
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