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Faulks' non-Bond work


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42 replies to this topic

#1 Loomis

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 01:37 PM

So here's the thing:

A FOOL'S ALPHABET and ENGLEBY are two of the best things I've ever read. Ever. No ifs or buts. I've read ENGLEBY four times now and feel four times ain't nearly enough. In fact, I may be obsessed with ENGLEBY. Now, I'd re-read A FOOL'S ALPHABET, only I fear that it'd turn me into a gibbering wreck. I don't think I'd be able to take the emotional torrent again (similarly, I'm reluctant to watch PAN'S LABYRINTH a second time and risk bruising the magical memory of that first and only viewing).

But, just as life has its ups and downs, so does the canon of the Faulksmeister, it would seem. I'm currently reading ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET, which I seem to remember hearing was the book that landed Seb the Bond gig. It's rich in period flavour, but the problem is that I simply don't care about the characters and their angst and romantic shenanigans. Indeed, DEVIL MAY CARE gets me off more than ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET does, which says it all, really.

Anyone with any tips on picking the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Faulks?

#2 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:13 PM

I would be intrested as well Loomis, to know the run down on Faulks books. Whats the best one to start?

#3 Simon

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 11:15 AM

My wife has read Human Traces and loved it.

This is a recommendation by proxy, if you will. But it's hallmarked and gilt edged.

Run with that.

#4 Loomis

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 01:10 PM

Thanks, Simon. I did actually start HUMAN TRACES last year. Enjoyed it very much but for some bizarre reason that completely escapes me I didn't end up reading more than the first few chapters. Might have to go back to it.

#5 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 06:24 PM

Right, thats it then, I will try to find a copy at the weekend.

#6 Scrambled Eggs

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 06:57 PM

Three days after this thread was started and I'm amazed noone has mentioned BIRDSONG yet - I thought it was by far his best known book? Major film version out soonish?

I've read it, but it was a hell of a long time ago. I remember enjoying it, but we're talking 10-12 years ago so...

The only other one I've read (unless you count DMC) is THE FATAL ENGLISHMAN which is a bit of an oddity (three autobiographies in one relatively slim volume) but I recommend it. Three interesting tales, well told.

#7 Santa

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 08:44 PM

The thing about Sebastian Faulks, for me anyway, is that I realise while reading them that I should be enjoying them, I can appreciate his prose and engage with the characters and story, but I always finish them feeling slightly unfulfilled - even Birdsong, which everyone else seems to love, so I can't wholeheartedly recommend any of them (although none of his others that I've read have been disappointing on the level of DMC).

#8 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:15 PM

Right, thats it then, I will try to find a copy at the weekend.


Well, That was a complete lie! I never went out and got it......But I did get Birdsong this weekend, which I am now about to read.

#9 Loomis

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:17 PM

Let us know what you think of it. B)

#10 K1Bond007

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 01:02 AM

Whenever I get to it, my next book lined up is Engleby. Maybe this week sometime. I've already read Faulk's "French trilogy" (Birdsong, Charlotte Grey, and The Girl at the Lion D'Or) and liked all 3 though Birdsong was clearly the best of them. Birdsong is easily one of my favorite books.

#11 K1Bond007

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:32 PM

Wait.. Loomis.. is Engleby entirely random narration? Holy B) man. I read the first chapter and couldn't keep straight what was going on. Well written though, as always, it's just... like listening to Abraham Simpson ramble on about nineteen dickity two.

Oh man...

#12 Loomis

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:38 PM

Wait.. Loomis.. is Engleby entirely random narration?


Erm, no. I mean, there's ultimately a point to it, as you'll gather if you finish the book. In the end, a story is told, and a bloody good one too if you ask me.

But I'm not sure what you are asking me. If your question is really "Does the book actually go anywhere?", the answer is yes. If your question is "Is it all written in the same style?", again, the answer is yes. Mind you, not that I find the style particularly baffling. It's easy enough to tell what's going on in the first chapter, no?

#13 K1Bond007

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:39 PM

The guy likes a girl. That's pretty much what I got of out 20 pages. B)

#14 Loomis

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:43 PM

Well, dude, you surely don't expect to get twenty pages into a novel and have it cracked, do you?

#15 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 07:50 PM

Half way into Birdsong now. I dont want to say to much before I have finished...

#16 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:56 AM

After reading Birdsong I could never write anything that would do the book justice. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement and at the same time the complete wrong word to use. I am not sure you can enjoy reading Birdsong with its brutal and heart wrenching tale of war. It brings the explicit and unnatural reality of war crashing around your ears. I want to tell people about Stephen’s tale, so much so that I am bursting. Birdsong is the best book I have ever read. After every chapter I contemplated life and how lucky I am. Engleby is next on my list.

#17 Loomis

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 12:35 PM

Wow. I'll be making BIRDSONG my next Faulks, then. Thanks for the recommendation.

#18 K1Bond007

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 03:29 AM

After reading Birdsong I could never write anything that would do the book justice. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement and at the same time the complete wrong word to use. I am not sure you can enjoy reading Birdsong with its brutal and heart wrenching tale of war. It brings the explicit and unnatural reality of war crashing around your ears. I want to tell people about Stephen’s tale, so much so that I am bursting. Birdsong is the best book I have ever read. After every chapter I contemplated life and how lucky I am. Engleby is next on my list.


Yeah, Birdsong is remarkable book. One of my favs. Associated with that is Charlotte Gray and The Girl at the Lion D'or. If you read these read Girl first. That's actually how his trilogy goes anyway. Birdsong -> Girl -> Gray. One character is in all three.

#19 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 07:36 AM

Thanks K1Bond007, I knew they were a French Trilogy but didn’t know they were strongly connected by a character. I do plan to read all Seb’s books now though. It’s true what they say about him, he is a brilliant writer. I think when we have all gone the future generations will study his books at school. I had a few tears reading Birdsong.

#20 [dark]

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 08:24 AM

It's high time I read some non-Bond faulks - though it might just make me depressed about how Devil May Care turned out.

The reviews for his latest - A Week in December - are promising. Looking forward to hearing some CBners' thoughts.

#21 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 08:36 AM

I am excited at the release of 'A Week in December'.

I always liked Devil May Care. But for those that didn’t, I would recommend reading Birdsong, and maybe that would put things in to some sort of perspective?

#22 [dark]

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 11:48 AM

Do CBners recommend approaching Faulks' France trilogy in the order the books were released or in the order in which they're set?

#23 David Schofield

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 11:58 AM

Devil May Care's a non-Bond work.

And that's B).

#24 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:38 PM

Do CBners recommend approaching Faulks' France trilogy in the order the books were released or in the order in which they're set?


I think the French trilogy has to be read in order then I guess anything else is fair game?

#25 Loomis

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 02:27 PM

Devil May Care's a non-Bond work.


B)

#26 K1Bond007

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 05:56 PM

Do CBners recommend approaching Faulks' France trilogy in the order the books were released or in the order in which they're set?


They're barely linked. A main character from Girl at the Lion D'or is in Birdsong, but not for too long (I think). He also appears briefly in Charlotte Gray. Chronologically it's Birdsong -> Girl -> Gray. You could also read it Girl -> Birdsong -> Gray (i.e., by release). I read it as Birdsong -> Gray -> Girl so the connection was mostly lost for me. If I read them all over again (which I'm sure I will someday) I'd at least read Charlotte Gray last.

#27 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 07:46 AM

I am off out to get A Week in December today as it appears to have been released early. Half Price at Waterstones. Anyone started it yet?

#28 Loomis

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 07:54 AM

No, but I've a good mind to do so.

#29 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 09:31 PM

I ordered a signed copy of A Week in December from Hatchards in the end......

Anyway, Loomis, where the hell are you man? I have just finished Engleby and I need to talk to you!!!!!!

#30 Loomis

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 11:10 PM

Me? I'm right here. Talk away. B)

Am currently halfway through A WEEK IN DECEMBER. Not sure I love it as much as ENGLEBY or A FOOL'S ALPHABET - it's a multicharacter affair, meaning that there isn't the deep baring of one man's soul that I love so much about those books. Moreover, Faulks' chief aim seems to be the taking of a scathing satirical scalpel to modern British society (girl groups, greedy bankers, Islamic terrorism, moronic reality TV shows, etc.), which seems to depersonalise things further. In some ways it's like an issue of Private Eye in the form of a novel. Which is hardly a bad thing.

Still, it's very well-written and amusing, and certainly several leagues better than DEVIL MAY CARE.




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