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on 8 June 2017
Not read it yet, just trying to clear these notifications. The cover looks good but I'm not one to judge
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on 20 February 2004
About 150 pages into The Perfect Fool I finally "got it". That is, the theme that binds together the characters, the title and the Hopi story which punctuates the book. From that point on, I knew where we were going and the question we were going to answer. If you've screwed up really badly, or were just made wrong, how do you get over it?
Well, the answer is that it happens a bit like in a film. This is an extremely cinematic book, communicating mostly through its economically but effectively described visuals. It would look good on a screen; it looked good in my head. In some places I thought the Hollywood tone prompted the use of slightly clichéd settings, and on first impressions you might think you've met some of the characters before. But this is misleading. These people, even the villains, are deep and make sense.
This is a book that gathers momentum magnificently. It's basically unputdownable from about three quarters through. Like a good movie, you know when and where the payoff is coming but have no idea how a resolution can be found. I was sure there would be a sad ending. I was sure that any journey to destroy your past must be futile. Actually, the finish is surprising and wise.
This is definitely worth reading. I actually missed Lewis, Tracy, Luther, Sid and even Danny after they'd gone. I think that's a pretty high recommendation.
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on 4 July 2001
BOOK REVIEW: By Wil Walker
TITLE: THE PERFECT FOOL AUTHOR: STEWART LEE
As part of the tale, Stewart Lee informs (or possibly reminds) us of an ancient American Indian legend which describes "a beautiful ugly monster". It's a fitting description too, for a book which deals both with eternal high concepts and everyday base minutiae, blending them into a story-line which draws together Hollywood style landscapes and London high street grime.
World-wide secret organisations and conspiracies... plodding prog-rock bands... religion... nostalgia... ropy old sex videos... and many a mid-life crisis... just about every source of pub conversation for the mid-to-late 30's male is introduced into the story at one point or another.
The prose style in which he chooses to do this resembles some proto-stream of consciousness which actively unfolds or creates the tale as you watch, rather than that of merely relating a series of events which has happened already. The resulting effect is an almost beatnik manner of delivery, combined with an air of the ancient spoken story teller, at once adding gravitas and supplying a (deliberate ?) mocking tinge of underlying sarcasm.
This in itself won't surprise long-time Lee fans, who will doubtless delight in spotting many of his favourite lines, from 'skelingtons' to 'Look impressed' and a dozen other familiar catch-phases, subjects and situations. But there's little cause for the uninitiated to worry, as everything you need to know is explained along the way, without intruding on the gathering pace of the proceeding plot. In fact, even Mr Lee's customary self-evident smugness at being so well-read can be forgiven, as it all makes sense in the end. That is to say, there are no obvious loose ends left dangling in the ether.
For all its complexity, the plot itself isn't going to stagger anyone in the way it eventually plays out, but that's not really the point, to me at least, of the book. Rather it serves as a focus for all the great and useless thoughts which pass through the mind, with the humour arising from embarrassment at recognising familiar dreams and aspirations as being disappointingly ordinary.
I imagine people will read the book, then spend long drunken lock-in evenings saying, Yeah, he's right about such'n'such', or No, that's so wide of the mark...
Whatever, it's well worth a read, either for those of us of a similar age, or for the younger 'Child Army' of Lee fans who wish to learn which phrases to drop into conversations when they pretend they were alive in the 70's.
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on 23 January 2003
What a fantastic first novel ! I am well impressed. I found that I was easily drawn into the very odd lives of the bizarre characters and was compelled to stay with them throughout their peculiar, yet intensely real quests. From the guy who had to spend his life searching for the exact cigarette butt that had ruined his life to the woman who couldn't find a partner who could stay alive long enough to share her life, I was with them all the way. The dark, laugh out-loud humour and bleak, well observed reality throughout the book won me over and I eagerly await a 2nd novel. Stewart Lee has proven beyond any doubt that he has a brilliant talent as an author to go alongside his already established genius as a stand-up comedian and a theatre director.
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on 6 September 2001
Well, what can I say? I bought this book a couple of months ago, for when I went on holiday. Being an immense fan of Lee, I found it incredibly hard to resist taking a look at it until then! But it was lucky that I did, because from the second I started reading I was unable to put it down. But this book is more than just an excellent way to pass an 8-hour plane journey. Oh yes.
It's a collection of stories, all concerning the grim underbelly of our world, and the people who inhabit it. Eventually, all their tales beautifully interwind into one. This book takes in the freemasons, burned-out 60's rock stars, women who can't keep a living boyfriend, and a motely crew of other no-hopers.
I don't want to give away the plot, but I will say this: It's an amazing book, and you'd have to be bl***y stupid to pass it up. Bl***y, bl***y stupid indeed.
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on 11 July 2001
Against my mother's so-called better judgement, I spent the last of my remaining money on this, a book which I had awaited with baited breath, being a long-term fan of Stewart Lee. And thank goodness I did - I am delighted to report that The Perfect Fool lived up to my extremely high expectations.
The interesting and diverse characters of the book provide much entertainment, whilst the fast-paced interchanging of the scenes told in the most spectacular prose ensure that boredom does not set in for one split-second. An extraordinarily absorbing book, it's not that I couldn't put it down, just that I didn't want to. Stewart Lee's obvious intelligence and wit shines through in his writing, making for a delightful read.
If you are not already a huge fan of this man - you soon will be.
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on 17 June 2014
Didn't quite know what to expect from Mr.Lee, but was very pleasantly surprised. Beautiful use of language, some very interesting characters and a satisfying conclusion.
If you like this book then you'll definitely like 'Mister Mann' by Gerrard G Gerrard and 'Even Cowgirls Get the Blues' by Tom Robbins.
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on 13 May 2012
A good read, clever story, well thought out and moments of brilliant humour. an impressive first novel that I would highly recommend
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on 30 December 2014
I took a couple of run-ups at this book, and I'm glad I did. I love Stewart Lee, I think he's ok. He's cranked out a great first novel, in my opinion - it's darkly byzantine, with a mystical quality that makes it sound quite a deal like the myths that preface the chapters. A nicely done novel.
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A great read - love the way all of the storylines intertwine towards the end. Some fascinating characters in there. As the review on the rear of the book states, Stewart Lee is basically far too 'normal' to get proper recognition for his effort here. Perhaps if he were more obscure, pretentious, or from a far-flung land the infinitely fallible human psychie, incapable of making impartial judgement, might be able to drag itself into enjoying this book.

Anyway, to my mind the book is about human dependency and the need for social crutches. Our almost endless need to feel part of something, or to feel some sort of tangible achievment from our lives. To make a web of constants around us to ensure that we are secure and in control and grounded. As with all great books and films the charaters are all anti-heros, each uniquely fallible and ultimately 'normal'.

Don't want to say too much. This is a great book well worth a read.....
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