Innocence, experience and comedy in Cumbria, from 'a British writer to be treasured and revered' Independent on Sunday As the wet lakeland fells grow misty and the holiday season draws to a close! As the tourists trickle away from the campsite, along with the sunshine, and the hot water, and the last of the good beer! A man accidentally spills a tin of green paint, and thereby condemns himself to death.
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Magnus Mills may have single-handedly invented a new fictional genre: the Kafkaesque novel of work. First, his Booker-shortlisted The Restraint of Beasts brought to fence-building the kind of black humor found in a Coen brothers movie. Now, in All Quiet on the Orient Express, Mills turns his deadpan prose on some very odd jobs, indeed. The unnamed narrator is on holiday for a few weeks, camping in England's Lake District before beginning an extended journey to India. He sees no reason not to agree when the campground owner--the sinister Tommy Parker, who seems mainly to engage in "buying and selling"--asks him to help out with a simple chore. As this is a Magnus Mills novel, however, no chore can possibly be simple. Through error or bad luck, one task leads to another, and the narrator quickly finds himself trapped by his own passivity and a very English reluctance to cause a fuss. Soon he's doing homework for Parker's daughter, being kicked on and off the darts team at the local pub, and learning how to perform a series of menial jobs. ("Have you ever operated a circular saw?" "Driven a tractor before?" "What are you like with a hammer and nails?")
There's a lot that's strange about this little town. Where have all the females gone? Why does everyone seem to think he should take over the town milk route? Why won't the shops stock his beloved baked beans? Both the grocer and the pub are oddly eager to let him run up tabs, and there's no sign of payment from Tommy Parker. It seems, in fact, that the narrator's early suspicions have been fulfilled: "I'd inadvertently become his servant." Like the Hall brothers from The Restraint of Beasts, Parker is volatile, irrational, and all-powerful--a primitive god ruling over his own creation. As the narrator falls further and further under his sway, All Quiet on the Orient Express becomes a striking allegory of labor and capital, purgatory and judgment, and the uncanniness of manual work. --Mary ParkAbout the Author:
magnus mills's work has been translated into no less than twenty languages. He is the author of a book of short stories, Only When the Sun Shines Brightly, as well as four novels: Three to See the King, All Quiet on the Orient Express, The Scheme for Full Employment and The Restraint of Beasts, a novel which won the McKitterick Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Award.
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Book Description HarperPerennial, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007177402