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The Paper Men (1999)

The Paper Men (1999)
3.16 of 5 Votes: 5
0374526397 (ISBN13: 9780374526399)
farrar, straus and giroux
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The Paper Men (1999)
The Paper Men (1999)

About book: A turgid and completely inconsequential door-stop by an otherwise significant writer, blunt and devoid of aesthetic or intellectual quality and a waste of 4 hours which would have been more productively spent drinking a pint of bleach and dying a slow death while being orally molested by the two orange tinted, rabidly dancing old men wailing the garbage infested burlesque babble of the popular musical ditty 'hey Macarena'. Lest we should fear digression, this is a suspiciously self-apologetic monologue by a dull and wholly unconvincing protagonist (being the only semi-developed character in the novel) and follows the disappointing Darkness Visible as a work of dubious literary merit, for example, the themes of isolation, apathy and the precarious nature of celebrity are utilised to great effect by Vladimir Nabokov in Pale Fire in one of the first 'hyper-texts' in English literature, being also a virtuoso performance of poetic intensity and true originality, while this appears to be a half-baked and one-dimensional attempt at portraying the contemporary psyche of a disintegrating writer at odds with the limitations of the ordinary world. It's hardly J.M. Coetzee, but sadly, in mitigation, Golding appears to have recognised the irony of his predicament. This work is dull, and a far cry from the intense power of the writing in Pincher Martin. I have seldom taken so little away from a novel.

I have never read Lord of the Flies, or anything else by him...This book made me uncomfortable. He is certainly not easy on himself, I'm assuming the narrator is a very close version of him. He is not afraid to depict this man as unloving and unlovable. The ending is like no ending I've read before. Could be really cheesy in the hands of a lesser writer. Ultimately I am thinking he tossed this off to let off steam about something that was really happening in his own life. By that I mean, being pestered by academics...There is a part where he has a dream but it almost seems more like a NDE and it gives him a lot of peace, that was interesting.
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I was surprised by how much I disliked this book, though Golding is one of my favorites. Granted, I've only read his earlier work till now...The characters were strong, and understandably so – as the narrator is the writer. Golding always develops people definitively through their prospective vices. I enjoyed the duality of the main c. and his (possibly autobiographical) social spite. As well, the plot was original and intriguing.There are, however, serious problems with continuity, character motivation, etc. Maybe I missed something. What was the source of the main c's cruelty? Mostly, the ending angered me.
Writing review of books I hate is so much fun, I might have to do more of it (see my review of The Alchemist). I only made it through half of this book, and that was giving it more of a chance than it deserved. This guy is really a Nobel Laureate in literature? Really? This is one of his later works, and I know he wrote Lord of the Flies, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was in decline at this point--although he did write a Booker Prize winning trilogy after this, apparently. Still, some sort of decline is the only explanation for why Golding thinks an aging writer obsessed with a younger woman (who happens to be his biographer's wife) is the least bit interesting, instead of just pathetic and creepy. And not pathetic and creepy in an entertaining way.
Julie Barichello
This book is worth reading just to make it to the last line. Although at times the story dragged with Wilf's narration and introspection (and occasional vague descriptions that required rereading a paragraph), and although during the last two chapters I simply wanted the book to conclude already, the final line made me legitimately LOL — I could not suppress laughing at the simple brilliance of how William Golding concluded the destructive spiral between Wilf Barclay and Rick Tucker.This is a quick read, sliding in at less than 200 pages. The action is stop-and-go, but the characters make the novel worth the time invested simply because they are memorable, obsessive and destructive.
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