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Edward St. Aubyn Lost for Words

Edward St. Aubyn Lost for Words


Edward St. Aubyn Lost for Words

ratings:
4/5 (4 ratings)
Length:
1 hour
Released:
Jun 9, 2014
ISBN:
9781467682282
Format:
Audiobook

Description

The author of the Patrick Melrose novels presents a razor-sharp, fabulously entertaining satire that cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture. In conversation with Francine Prose (Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932), with an introduction by Paul W. Morris (PEN American Center).
Released:
Jun 9, 2014
ISBN:
9781467682282
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Edward St. Aubyn was born in London. His acclaimed Patrick Melrose novels are Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk (winner of the Prix Femina étranger and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize), and At Last. The series was made into a BAFTA Award–winning Sky Atlantic TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch. St. Aubyn is also the author of A Clue to the Exit, On the Edge (short-listed for the Guardian Fiction Prize), Lost for Words (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), and Dunbar, his reimagining of King Lear for the Hogarth Shakespeare project.

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What people think about Edward St. Aubyn Lost for Words

3.8
4 ratings / 7 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    As I read St. Aubyn’s noveI, I couldn’t stop thinking: “Man Booker”. I think as readers we've definitely lost out. Prizes are as much if not more about marketing as excellence and when there is so much out there, for the Booker to narrow the range of books highlighted (short list?), which is what happened in St. Aubyn’s novel, is a shame. The book judges perhaps didn't see this happening and they aren't responsible for the overall picture after all. UK doesn't have a national book award like the States and there is no Commonwealth Award anymore. Getting and keeping funding for prizes is tough and some are very controversial. There are better ways of readers finding out about books these days. If you have a prize it does need to have a clear category and continuity which the Booker doesn't anymore. It's lost its way and readers will go elsewhere. To this foreign reader, the novel stands as an international literary phenomenon, on the grounds of style and humor alone. It's not a topical satire. It's a farce, and it should be read as such, and it succeeds as such. "The sly, chatty third-person narration and the constant onslaught of wordplay, bathos, farcical mishap and circular logic" are the reasons “Lost for Words” exists for in the first place. It is funny, sidesplittingly so, and all instances of flowery verbiage and "bad writing" are intentional. It could have been a bitter act of revenge, but it's a delightful silly little comedy. As long as you're aware it's lighthearted, slightly whimsical entertainment, and not anything important, it is not to be missed. Humour or comedy literature is about as popular as a cock flavoured lolly with the critics/establishment. Ask about comedy and you get the same old chestnuts, “A Confederacy of Dunces”, etc. I just wish I were a comedy author, all dark and full of gross humour. I, for one, never cared about literary prizes. Well, imagine having spent at least two years sitting in a room by yourself while writing a book at the same time as one of the characters in St. Aubyn’s tries to do. For a chunk of years she should have decided not to read their musings anymore but to walk out of her front door and do stuff herself instead. BTW, just to reassure anyone who gave up on Proust I am pressing on; currently at about 37% read and nothing has happened yet as it should with all top-notch Literature. Artistic prizes don't mean shit, and are often political anyway. The true test of any piece of art, book, film, portrait, is its longevity. That is all. People who don't want their work judged entirely on this criteria should not even be artists. Or is it about length? This raises a genuinely interesting point. The philistines, compulsive naysayers, and unreflecting consumers of literary bilge are not notable for their avoidance of lengthy tomes (400 - 800 pages on average), as proof of which all one need do is visit WH Smith. When someone scoffs at the length of the George Eliot I'm reading - or, more generally, at the voluminousness of any number of 19th/20th Century 'great novelists' - I cast an eye over their dog-eared, spine-cracked huddles of Robert Ludlum, Len Deighton, and publisher-egged-on exponentialismic J.K. Rowling and reflect on so much fuzzily misapplied rationale. Of the winners listed in 2018, the one who stood out as a deserving case was Julian Barnes - 'The sense of an ending' was excellent, and many (not all) of his others are well above average. DBC Pierre wrote one good book but I'm not aware that he's been able to repeat the feat. Marlon James's effort is also interesting but a hard read, as the narrative is confusing at times. I have been unable to 'get into' Margaret Atwood, and "Benjamin Black" (AKA John Banville ) is dreadful...It's quite hard to know what the prize-givers are looking for, given the disparate quality of the prize winners... if there's no story, I'm really not interested. Writing for people who teach English Lit courses should not be a criterion, IMO. Pretentious, shallow, shallow and pretentious. Also superficial and slight-fantastic. That's when not torpid or turgid or turbid. Nay, more, much more from the near millennial critics' armoury, so very much more, they are also sometimes "affected", sometimes "ostentatious, chi-chi" - they can be at times "showy, flashy, tinselly", conspicuous in their "evasiveness" - "flaunty-mute", or "inert and tasteless", then there's the "kitschy or overambitious", the "pompous artifice of the critic's mirror" - it's "hellish professor's trickster", even "flatulent when high pressed inflated", "overblown" or "ripe" - that fustian "hyperventilation in their mannered, high-flown, high-sounding floristy", yes, "flowery, grandiose, big wordy-grand" - "overelaborate" and "unconscious mock-heroic", "grandiloquent", nay, "magniloquent bombastadry" - you know the one, "turgid, orotund" or even "rotund in rhetoric" - "mute-oratorial", "narco-sophomoric", "highfalutin la-di-da fancy-pants narratry" - the "quiescence of pseud-pseud-pseudo flares" or "spare yet tumbling cross-wire eyed puissance". We've read it all before in reviews. If we see not the real thing we see the pretentious sir, pretentious.There, squall-spat over.The All-Seeing-I should not in matters of taste and mere contingency fake final say when time could make a mockery of said judgement. On the other hand, I was always a book snob. Meaning: You and I are pretentious. Booker winners and many a nominee and even non shortlist are very much the real deal (*).(*)I'm sorry; someone has apparently been fumigating my villa against mosquitoes, and the smell was a little pungent. I think I was high as a kite typing that mess above. Apologies all round.
  • (4/5)
    Lost for Words is a wild satiric romp through the machinations and chicanery of the British book prize world. A new chair has just been appointed head of the committee that awards the Elysian Prize.A quick look at the members of the committee and the authors of some of the books submitted will suffice for a commentary:the committee:Malcolm Craig, chair, a political back-bencher in Parliament, with a penchant for Scottish novels. He accepted the position as a means to raise his public profile.Jo Cross, a columnist and media personality who is looking for relevance in the list of nominees.Vanessa Shaw, an Oxbridge academic who does value literary quality.Penny Feathers, a retired foreign service employee, who writes detective novels with the help of a software program called Ghost.Tobias Benedict, an actor, who because of his schedule can't attend the meetings, but favors an historical novel featuring William Shakespeare.the authorsSonny, an Indian pasha, who has written a tome titled The Mulberry Elephant.Aunty, his aunt, whose cookbook, Palace is mistakenly substituted for the competition in place of the debut novel byKatherine Burns, author of Consequences, a stunning young writer who counts among her many lovers --Alan Oaks, her editor, and hapless agent of the mistaken submissionDidier Leroux, a French semioticianSam Black, who has written the short-listed Bildungsroman, The Frozen Torrent, to gain enough recognition so that his skeptical, pain-driven manuscript False Notes might be published.It's not great literature, but over-the top, good fun with parodical excerpts from contemporary novels. Very entertaining.
  • (4/5)
    Fluff....not up to his usual witty standard..
  • (4/5)
    Edward St.Aubyn is an English writer who just writes terrific prose. He has the way with a phrase. I have previously read the Patrick Melrose novels which are a series of 5 novels that are semi-autobiographical and were excellent. This book is a perfect introduction to St. Aubyn. The book is a satirical look at the behind the scenes of literary prizes. Although a different name is used this probably is referring to the Booker Prize. The book is funny and looks at the less than good qualifications of both the judges and the books they are judging. This is a short novel but the language is great and the characters are fun. Very English so it might not appeal to American readers but I would strongly recommend it. If you like it, then definitely read the Patrick Melrose novels.
  • (3/5)
    The cutthroat world of high literary competition, or middling mendacious merit, is ready fodder for playful mocking and gentle reconsideration. Edward St Aubyn's approach to the vagaries of a panel of literary judges is both light and glancing. Nothing too much can be made of it. The insights, such as they are, are banal. The criticism is superficial. The barbs are all rhubarbs. And perhaps this lightness of touch is precisely the approach St Aubyn is proposing we ought to take to literary prizes themselves. They're just a bit of fun. Enjoy them like meringue, but don't make a meal of them.While such a novel provides plenty of opportunity for settling scores, I don't see anything like that happening here. Even the more absurd characters, such as Didier the French culture critic, are given worthwhile observations even if these are couched in outlandish theoretical flights of fancy. It is clear that St Aubyn has a genuine fondness for each of these comic creations despite the awkward positions he places them in. And that amicable affection more than rescues this novel from the clutches of spiteful satire.I'm not really recommending it, but if you are on a soulless sunny beach this summer with nothing but time between you and a return to life proper, then you might pass a few pleasant hours in these pages and be no worse for it.
  • (3/5)
    A satirical and ironic telling of the back door dealings present during and leading up to the presenting of a prestigious award. Although for the sake of the novel it is named differently, it is said that this parody of sorts is about the Booker Award.The maneuvering, the picking of the judges, each who have a book they want to make it into the short list. One judge doesn't even bother to read the top twenty. The authors themselves, pushing their books to make the long list. Really rather interesting.This author can put words and make beautiful sentences. He is a master at adjectives and uses them with flourish. Some of this book was very amusing but really never really had any feelings for the characters, neither like nor dislike, maybe appalled at some of their hubris. There were even some pages of the some of the books being considered. When the prize it announced, the best book may not have won, but the most honest person did.Maybe a little to clever for me.
  • (4/5)
    This was my first experience reading Edward St. Aubyn, and I quite enjoyed the ride. Lost for Words is a send-up of the British literary scene--in particular, the Man Booker Prize and all the hubbub surrounding it. St. Aubyn clearly took his inspiration from the controversy of a few years back, when a semi-qualified panel decided to invoke popularity over literary quality. Several of the judges for the Elysian Prize for Literature have spurious qualifications; others unabashedly admit to not planning to read all the submitted books, and each is promoting a particular book because of preference (e.g., one likes nothing better than Scottish historical novels). The hopeful authors have their quirks as well. (My favorite was an Indian writer whose publisher mistakenly submits his aunt's cookbook instead of his own novel, The Mulberry Elephant.) St. Aubyn provides subtle humor in the behind-the-scenes rivalries and passions as well as the public debates. I saw the ending coming, but it was still fun getting there.