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THE RESTRAINT OF BEASTS.

Mills, Magnus.

ISBN 10: 0002257203 / ISBN 13: 9780002257206
Published by FLAMINGO. LONDON 1998, 1998
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From WAVERLEY BOOKS ABAA (Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

A trade paperback original. (There was no hardcover edition) Fine in pictorial printed wrappers. Short listed for the Booker Prize. Author's darkly comic FIRST novel. Bookseller Inventory # 9735

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE RESTRAINT OF BEASTS.

Publisher: FLAMINGO. LONDON 1998

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Softcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Meet Tam and Richie: two dour Scots labourers. Clad in denim, work-shy, permanently discontented, intent on getting to the pub every night come hell or high water - in short, akin to your average British workers. But Tam and Richie, with their new supervisor, begin to display hidden depths.

Review:

Good fences may make good neighbors, but in Magnus Mills's first novel, bad fences make for high tension indeed. An eerie noir fable told in a grim, deadpan voice, The Restraint of Beasts begins as an unnamed English fence builder finds himself promoted to foreman over Tam and Richie, two undermotivated Scots laborers. They've just been sent out to fix a high-tension fence when events go horribly awry--and that's just the beginning. For the rest of the novel, as his charges drink, smoke, loaf, and pound the occasional post, things go wrong over and over again. In a sense, that's all you can truly rely on in Mills's fictional world. It is not giving away too much to say that with these particular fencers on the job, you'd best watch your back. And your front, for that matter. And maybe keep a firm eye on the skies, just in case.

The team travels south to England, where they live out of a damp, cold caravan in the town of Upper Bowland. They're soon at loggerheads with the sinister Hall brothers, whose business enterprises seem to combine fencing, butchering, sausage-making, and a fierce attachment to school meals. "We committed no end of good deeds!" cries John Hall. "Yet still we lost the school dinners! Always the authorities laying down some new requirement, one thing after another! This time is seems we must provide more living space. Very well! If that's the way they want it, we'll go on building fences for ever if necessary! We'll build pens and compounds and enclosures! And we'll make sure we never lose them again!"

In between placing Kafkaesque obstacles in his narrator's path, Mills seeds his debut with small, darkly comic touches: Tam's father, whom we last see erecting a stockade round his house "to stop you from coming home any more"; the sound of Richie's Black Sabbath tapes "slowly being stretched in an under-powered cassette player"; the caravan's encroaching squalor; An Early Bath for Thompson, the book that Richie tries without success to read. No doubt about it, The Restraint of Beasts is a strange novel that only grows stranger as it progresses; with luck, it augurs more brilliant, odd work from Mills. --Mary Park

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