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on 26 October 2003
This book has a long and distinguished history and it is nice to see it being reissued 50 years after its first publication. All the brouha about Amis and the ANgry YOung Men aside, if you go a little deeper you will see that this was actually the novel that started it all off in 1953. I guess that in those days, the story of a graduate dropping out of polite society to become a window cleaner (and then a drugs courier, hospital porter, chauffeur and other working class jobs) was more shocking than it would be now...But Hurry On Down is actually very funny, with forays into the dark side of human behaviour, and has a comic sense of occasion that compares well with the offerings of Sir KIngsley a year later. It is also sharply observed - a real young man's novel. I loved it again, many years after first reading it, and I think it should again be very popular in its fiftieth year!
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on 26 November 2010
John Wain's literary excellence lies in his simple style of writing. Hurry on Down is a study of disaffected youth in 1950's Britain. This Briain is smokey and industrial and everyone is earning a wage. This is the world of mugs of tea, Woodbine Cigarettes, rainy streets, fog and smog, a country that appeared to exist in continuous monochrome and the enigmatic pre-decimal coinage, even the book jacket proclaims that it cost "2/6" (two shillings and sixpence).

At the centre of the book is Charles Lumley. Given that the book was written in 1953, Wain had become part of the tradition that had spawned fifties Anti-Heroes (Look back in Anger and Rebel without a cause). Lumley's first act of rebellion is to forego his university education and become a window cleaner.

Consider these passages:-

"In Charles's breast pocket was a paper packet containing his last cigarette. He took it out carefully, but it had somehow bent , and the paper was broken in the middle. He began to smoke it, holding it so that one finger exactly covered the torn spot, inhaling deeply. The hot storm-centre of alcohol in his stomach rose to meet the smouldering pool of nicotine in his lungs, and, the burden of guilt and fatigue slipping from his shoulders, he breathed a silent prayer of gratitude to the twin deities of his world"

"The words crashed into the silence by the sudden cessation in Blearney's voice. The effect was that of a man talking loudly in a tube train, who barks out at the end of his sentence as soon as the tube stops, and the whole carriage hears it"

"...Now we can really beginthe fun - the party's complete. Folks, this is Harry Lumpy...This is Jimmy, Stanley and Elsa" The succession of names flooded over his mind like dirty water..."
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on 10 November 2011
Wain is almost forgotten today I think and this certainly is well worth reading. Not sure it is his best book, but he is an author to rediscover.
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on 27 January 2016
A young man who challenges accepted protocol. Despite his higher education, he takes menial jobs, some of which, he enjoys. We are introduced to some interesting characters who crop up as his work colleagues and previous school friends. A kick against the society in which he was brought up, a little old-fashioned now, but nevertheless an excellent story.
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on 5 February 2014
This is not an easy book to obtain in hard copy, no worries- it's all here plus a comprehensive introductory chapter. If you're stuck you can't go far wrong with this. Hurry On Down is a typical anti-establishment novel of the AngryYoungMen genre, from the 50's/60's - a good representation of the times.
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on 25 January 2017
Worth reading especially if you like 1950s novel by English male writers, same genre. I prefer Wain's Strike the Father Dead which is a personal favourite but must admit this is probably the better written novel.
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on 7 January 2016
It's a good book, underrated, should be better known. But why is it so expensive?
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on 28 January 2008
Historically significant as this might be - and quite interesting as a picture of the seamier side of Britain in the early Fifties - this was a real disappointment for me, and seriously hampered by one of the most dislikeable 'heroes' I've ever encountered. I assume one is supposed to sympathise with him in his rejection of conventional life, but he's just insufferable! Amis's (Lucky) Jim Dixon is a far better trailblazer for the Angry Young Men.
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