Mr. Phillips wakes on a summer's Monday morning in his modest, nearly mortgage-free house, ready to face another ordinary working day. Except this day is far from ordinary, for on the previous Friday, Mr. Phillips was summarily sacked. Unable to deal with this disaster--unable even to tell his own wife--Mr. Phillips rises at his usual hour and prepares himself for the job he no longer has. As he wanders the streets of London, what he sees triggers memories. Gradually a picture develops of a decent man who, only days before, knew exactly who and what he was--husband, home-owner, father, valued employee--and on this day wonders who and what he can become.
Using the bits and pieces of one man's past, John Lanchester has drawn a fully dimensional life and, in the process, made in Mr. Phillips an Everyman for our times.
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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 AllisonFrom the Inside Flap:
One warm July morning, Mr. Phillips climbs out of bed and prepares for his commute to London ? but this is no ordinary day. Though he carries his attaché case as usual as he sets out from home, he does not head for the office. Instead, this is a day on which Mr. Phillips will chat with a pornographer, stalk a TV mini-celebrity, have lunch with an aspiring record mogul, and get caught up in a bank robbery. In short, as Mr. Phillips comes to realize, this is the first day of the rest of his life ? whether he wants it to be or not.
But why is Mr. Phillips, a cautious middle-aged accountant, not behind his desk calculating the financial consequences of redundancies or recommending the savings to be made from more responsible use of yellow sticky notes?
In Mr. Phillips, John Lanchester has created an unforgettable character ? the quintessential average man whose tidy life is one day shaken up by an event even he can?t talk about. Lanchester?s eye for detail is unparalleled, his sensibility all his own. This new novel confirms his reputation as one of the most innovative and gifted novelists writing today.
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2001. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Mr Phillips wakes on a summer's Monday morning in his modest, nearly mortgage-free house ready to face another ordinary working day. Except this day is far from ordinary, for on the previous Friday, Mr Phillips was summarily sacked. Unable to deal with this disaster -- unable even to tell his own wife -- Mr Phillips rises at his usual hour and prepares himself for the job he no longer has. He wanders the streets of London, and what he sees triggers memories. Gradually a picture develops of a decent man who, only days before, knew exactly who and what he was -- husband, homeowner, father, valued employee -- and on this day wonders who and what he can become.Using the bits and pieces of one man's past, John Lanchester has drawn a fully dimensional life and, in the process, made in Mr Phillips an Everyman for our times. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0140298363
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 304 pages. 7.50x5.00x0.50 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0140298363
Book Description Penguin Books, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140298363