Michael Palin's first novel is the story of Martin Sproale, a mild and conventional assistant postmaster in his mid-thirties who lives in an English coastal town. The only remarkable thing about him is an obsession with the life, work and personality of Ernest Hemingway.
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A quiet, unassuming postman develops an unexpected obsession in this quiet, unassuming--and very English--first novel from Michael Palin of Monty Python fame. Martin Sproale is the very model of a modern Walter Mitty. An assistant postmaster in the coastal town of Threston, he lives at home with his mother and rides his bicycle to work each day. It's a pleasant but uneventful sort of life, marked only by Martin's growing fascination with the life, works, and personal style of Ernest Hemingway. "Tea-drinkers, mothers, post office administrators, would-be fiancées. Little people with little minds," Martin thinks. "When would they realise that only through confrontation with danger could life be lived to the full?" Martin has transformed his room into a kind of Hemingway shrine, complete with bullfighting poster, several first editions, the same kind of typewriter Papa used--even a vintage WWI Italian army first-aid cabinet filled with all the liquors he liked to drink.
Two things happen to shatter Martin's equilibrium. First, a new, corporate-style postal manager takes the job that by rights should have been his, promptly beginning a campaign of privatization and modernization that threatens all Martin holds dear. Second, an American woman outbids him on Hemingway memorabilia; a scholar, "not a fan," of the writer, Ruth Kohler lives in seclusion nearby while she works on a book about the women in Hemingway's life. Martin and Ruth engage in some increasingly heated role-playing as the conflict over Threston's post office comes to a slow boil. Deprived of his position, his cozy world crashing down around him, Martin finds himself acting more like the he-man writer than he ever thought possible. Palin's debut is in some ways a surprise: poignant rather than funny, skillfully paced and couched in workmanlike but hardly spectacular prose. Readers expecting Pythonesque absurdity might find themselves disappointed--but only at first; with patience, this book unfolds its more subtle pleasures with understated aplomb.From the Publisher:
"His book is well paced, his prose carefully hewn, his characters fully developed and convincingly human. And his comic timing is impeccable." --The Washington Post
"This book's strengths are...its dry, deftly understated wit; its careful plot and character construction; its clever, on-the-money dialogue...Those pleasures carry you a long way." --The New York Times Book Review
"Funnyman Palin brings a light touch to this yarn, treating his characters and their many weaknesses with an affection that will have readers rooting for his unlikely hero." --Publishers Weekly
"The spirit of Hemingway is evident in Palin's prose." --The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
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Book Description Arrow, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: Used; Good. Dispatched, from the UK, within 48 hours of ordering. This book is in good condition but will show signs of previous ownership. Please expect some creasing to the spine and/or minor damage to the cover. Aged book. Please note this book is over 20 years old. It will therefore have tanned pages, age spots and plenty of shelf wear. However, for its age it is still very useable, and a great read. Damaged book. Please note this is a damaged book. The condition of this book is as stated above, however this book is slightly damaged in some way. Typically a grazed corner or torn cover. Thanks. Bookseller Inventory # CHL2279226
Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: Used; Good. **SHIPPED FROM UK** We believe you will be completely satisfied with our quick and reliable service. All orders are dispatched as swiftly as possible! Buy with confidence!. Bookseller Inventory # mon0002166337
Book Description Arrow Books Ltd. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: Good. 0099427923 UK BASED SELLER SHIPS DAILY ALL OVERSEAS SHIPPING VIA AIRMAIL COVER MAY DIFFER TO ONE SHOWN, published by ARROW. Bookseller Inventory # AA0020679
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Bookseller Inventory # GOR003956354