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Mr. Phillips

Lanchester, John

933 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0399146040 / ISBN 13: 9780399146046
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, New York, NY, U.S.A., 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Kennedy Books (Jamestown, ND, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

FINE/FINE unread copy protected by archival Brodart cover. SIGNED by author. This book comes with a FINE copy of the uncorrected proof in original wraps. Size: 8vo - over 7" - 9" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000514

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Mr. Phillips

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

A man who has settled into a safe, ordinary suburban life wakes one day to find himself "sacked"fired and cast adrift to rediscover and reinvent himself. By the author of The Debt to Pleasure. 85,000 first printing. BOMC.

Review:

Elegant, demonic, obsessive, John Lanchester's The Debt to Pleasure won the Whitbread Award for first novel, was short-listed for many others, and was translated into a dizzying number of foreign languages. Its narrator, Tarquin Winot, displays an encyclopedic knowledge of food and haute cuisine, and must surely be one of the first fictional "foodie-killers." The author's second novel, Mr Phillips, is in a very different key. The eponymous protagonist, a 50-year-old London accountant, has lost his job but hasn't told his family. He leaves for work as usual on Monday morning, and finds himself wandering aimlessly around the city, taking it all in. So the odyssey begins.

A statistician and inveterate quantifier, Mr Phillips likes to give marks out of ten for things (including sexual dreams), a habit that has especially humorous consequences when he visits the Tate Gallery. A Gaudier-Brzeska head: seven out of ten; The Boyhood of Raleigh: five. His thoughts on Millais's Ophelia are typical: "If she had drowned surely she wouldn't be floating on her back like that? Certainly that wasn't how drowned people looked on TV. Six out of ten." Mr Phillips's judgments may lack sophistication, but they are often hilariously apt, and above all true to his personality. He has a penchant for mental arithmetic, and speculates about how many women in England pose nude for magazines and tabloids (16,744, he deduces). He isn't exactly sex-obsessed, but he illustrates dramatically the notion that men think about sex a great deal of the time.

His thoughts also meander in many directions: How many people on a London bus have never been on the river Thames? What would the financial accounts of the Battersea Park authorities look like? Standing on Chelsea Bridge, he calculates the speed at which a suicide would hit the water. Is this litany of seemingly trivial arithmetical puzzles a response to the trauma of unemployment, or is it a heightened version of the mind games we all privately play? Mr Phillips is extremely observant and insightful--he should have given up accountancy long ago. He is good on old age and especially good on death: "But the thought that you would be aware of what was going on as you died implied that somewhere in his future was a moment of the purest terror, terror at 200 proof, so that you could have a small taste of the fear every time you let your mind touch on the subject, even for a second or two."

Reviewers have already been talking about literary influences--Woolf, Joyce, Wells--but John Lanchester's mesmerizing second novel has a cumulative power and brilliance all its own. --Jonathan Allison

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