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P. J. T. Brown

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  • 7
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The final journey

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-01-20

In essence the final volume of his autobiographical trilogy, despite the fictional screen tagged to the first two, ‘Empire of the sun’ & ‘The kindness of women’. I was fascinated by the retelling of his life that as well as stripping away the fictional constructs continued to embroider his life with the real - and explain the duality of the way in which the writer and the man fused.

‘Modernism is the gothic of the information age’ J G Ballard

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-01-20

Both this and previous ‘memoir’ ‘Empire of the Sun’ are described by Ballard as novels, essentially autofictions in every sense that implies; the narrative frames through which he tells and we understand his past(s) vary with the camera lens dominating the patterns of his life.

I enjoyed the reimagining of his Shanghai childhood and what happened to him over the next forty years. I look forward to his final volume ‘Miracles of life’ which apparently is non-fiction.

A smackeroo of a listen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-11-19

Will Self reads all his own books with bombshell energy and this autobiographical tale of childhood and university years + travel gaps all weaved onto a continuous edge of calamity is no different. ‘Tis all about highs and lows of an urban middle class upbringing adumbrated with drugs, lots of drugs, lots of sex - this was the eighties; Thatcher looms large in a central section as Self typifies the utter utter disbelief at her rise as leaderene. Brilliant, allusive, informative he’s mainlined the eighties to you’re lugholes in one gigantic whoosh - stand back - stand up and be decimated!

1 person found this helpful

Well up to standard

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-06-19

I think this is the fifth outing for the County Guides, and it’s well up to the standard of the previous volumes.

Inevitably a mysterious death occurs which is, as ever, ingeniously solved. I noticed a downplaying of action in favour of an increase in gentle irony and observation - it helps if you know something of the early 20th century writers, though it’s not essential, just as an understanding of English history, and particularly of Lewes and Sussex - but if not you can play Sefton to Morley’s encyclopedic mind.

Of course its all a bit of a send up of Arthur Mee’s King’s England series but listeners will hardly fail to notice history repeating itself.

The greatest pleasure is Mike Grady’s performance - he has all the characters to a T and he handles the drama and interplay with consummate artistry.

Roll on the next County Guide!

Quite a nasty little tale!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-05-19



I enjoyed reading Sadie Jones’s ‘The outcast’ (2008) some 10 years ago, and noted that today it was the only other novel of hers that Waterstones of Piccadilly had on the shelf.

The milieu of London, of death, the need to be credible and the compromises made or not; family pressures, urban regeneration, slum landlords - all these factors reminded me of my recent reading of Tessa Hadley’s latest novel ‘Late in the day’, and I note that Abigail Thaw also narrates the audible version of Hadley’s book.

Thaw’s reading is right on the money - and her characterization of the father Griff is particularly good.

So no plot spoilers but the slowish start winds into quite a nasty little tale - all very nicely done!

1 person found this helpful

Different & enthralling

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-05-16

Essentially the tale of a twin brother and sister, almost a ghost story, but not quite. Diana Athill noted in her review in the Guardian that as an experienced reader and reviewer of fiction she can nearly always guess the outcome, but here, she said, she failed. I think the likely outcome does begin to show about two thirds of the way through, but this does not diminish the excitement right up until closure, which rounds out the tale very satisfactorily.

Avita Jay reads with great skill, a marvelous performance.

And some reviewers didn't like this book!? Perhaps a little patience to allow the writer to put the characters and the plot in the right places so that it builds to such effect.

3 people found this helpful

Where to Guv?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-04-16

Would you listen to The Book of Dave again? Why?

Brilliantly narrated by Will Self with a certain supercilious verve the story by turns ludicrous, cruel, racist, sexist, istist, becomes a moving archaeology of London and revealed religion all shook by a thousand taxi rides across the metropolis past and its dystopian future.

Another fine outing for the intrepid team

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-03-16

Ian Sansom applies his fine intelligence to this thirties satire to give us Arthur Mee meets Agatha Christie replete with modernist notes. It's all hugely enjoyable and lent plenty of gusto with Mike Grady's excellent performance. Westmorland next - long may the series continue.

1 person found this helpful

Pay close attention

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-11-15

I was really sucked in by the first two thirds of this story but got a tad lost during the fourth shift when the time shifts became more astral, though admittedly cooking and listening is probably not the ideal way to absorb and understand the subtle shifts in lacunae.

The performances are brilliant really drawing out the dramatic potential of the tale.

I do wonder if an initial reading of his 2014 novel 'Bone clocks' would have given me more traction for the final third?

A tough wee lassie...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 25-03-14

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Inventive use of language; tough and emotionally satisfying.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Panopticon?

The exposure of the observers scurrying away.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Her last journey - such hope, and the feeling that she'd succeed.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Her return to the asylum in which she was born.

Any additional comments?

Almost entirely narrated from Anise's viewpoint this novel fits well with other Scottish writers such as James Kellman and Ali Smith, and further back to the Irish writer Samuel Beckett, though very accessible. As the Panoptican is an observer, so is the author - so questions arise about the craft of fiction. The audio delivery is quite stunning, giving full force to Anise and her pals inventive use of language - but it is Anise's developing psychological maturity and her ultimate ability for self-reflection that enables her to act. You have to tell your own story, and join up all the threads - others cannot do this for you.

1 person found this helpful