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Angelmaker
 
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Angelmaker [Format Kindle]

Nick Harkaway
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait



I
.

At seven fifteen a.m., his bedroom slightly colder than the vacuum of space, Joshua Joseph Spork wears a longish leather coat and a pair of his father’s golfing socks. Papa Spork was not a natural golfer. Among other differences, natural golfers do not acquire their socks by hijacking a lorryload destined for St. Andrews. It isn’t done. Golf is a religion of patience. Socks come and socks go, and the wise golfer waits, sees the pair he wants, and buys it without fuss. The notion that he might put a Thompson sub-machine gun in the face of the burly Glaswegian driver, and tell him to quit the cab or adorn it . . . well. A man who does that is never going to get his handicap down below the teens.

The upside is that Joe doesn’t think of these socks as belonging to Papa Spork. They’re just one of two thousand pairs he inherited when his father passed on to the great bunker in the sky, contents of a lock-up off Brick Lane. He returned as much of the swag as he could—it was a weird, motley collection, very appropriate to Papa Spork’s somewhat eccentric life of crime—and found himself left with several suitcases of personal effects, family Bibles and albums, some bits and bobs his father apparently stole from his father, and a few pairs of socks the chairman of St. Andrews suggested he keep as a memento.

“I appreciate it can’t have been easy, doing this,” the chairman said over the phone. “Old wounds and so on.”

“Really, I’m just embarrassed.”

“Good Lord, don’t be. Bad enough that the sins of the fathers shall descend and all that, without feeling embarrassed about it. My father was in Bomber Command. Helped plan the firebombing of Dresden. Can you imagine? Pinching socks is rather benign, eh?”

“I suppose so.”

“Dresden was during the war, of course, so I suppose they thought it had to be done. Jolly heroic, no doubt. But I’ve seen photographs. Have you?”

“No.”

“Try not to, I should. They’ll stay with you. But if ever you do, for some godforsaken reason, it might make you feel better to be wearing a pair of lurid Argyles. I’m putting a few in a parcel. If it will salve your guilt, I shall choose the absolute nastiest ones.”

“Oh, yes, all right. Thank you.”

“I fly myself, you know. Civilian. I used to love it, but recently I can’t help but see firebombs falling. So I’ve sort of given up. Rather a shame, really.”

“Yes, it is.”

There’s a pause while the chairman considers the possibility that he may have revealed rather more of himself than he had intended.

“Right then. It’ll be the chartreuse. I quite fancy a pair of those myself, to wear next time I visit the old bugger up at Hawley Churchyard. ‘Look here, you frightful old sod,’ I shall tell him, ‘where you persuaded yourself it was absolutely vital that we immolate a city full of civilians, other men’s fathers restricted themselves to stealing ugly socks.’ That ought to show him, eh?”

“I suppose so.”

So on his feet now are the fruits of this curious exchange, and very welcome between his unpedicured soles and the icy floor.

The leather coat, meanwhile, is a precaution against attack. He does own a dressing gown, or rather, a toweling bathrobe, but while it’s more cosy to get into, it’s also more vulnerable. Joe Spork inhabits a warehouse space above his workshop—his late grandfather’s workshop—in a dingy, silent bit of London down by the river. The march of progress has passed it by because the views are grey and angular and the place smells strongly of riverbank, so the whole enormous building notionally belongs to him, though it is, alas, somewhat entailed to banks and lenders. Mathew—this being the name of his lamentable dad—had a relaxed attitude to paper debt; money was something you could always steal more of.

Speaking of debts, he wonders sometimes—when he contemplates the high days and the dark days of his time as the heir of crime—whether Mathew ever killed anyone. Or, indeed, whether he killed a multitude. Mobsters, after all, are given to arguing with one another in rather bloody ways, and the outcomes of these discussions are often bodies draped like wet cloth over barstools and behind the wheels of cars. Is there a secret graveyard somewhere, or a pig farm, where the consequences of his father’s breezy amorality are left to their final rest? And if there is, what liability does his son inherit on that score?

In reality, the ground floor is entirely given over to Joe’s workshop and saleroom. It’s high and mysterious, with things under dust sheets and—best of all—wrapped in thick black plastic and taped up in the far corner “to treat the woodworm.” Of recent days these objects are mostly nothing more than a couple of trestles or benches arranged to look significant when buyers come by, but some are the copper-bottomed real thing—timepieces, music boxes, and best of all: hand-made mechanical automata, painted and carved and cast when a computer was a fellow who could count without reference to his fingers.

It’s impossible, from within, not to know where the warehouse is. The smell of old London whispers up through the damp boards of the sale room, carrying with it traces of river, silt and mulch, but by some fillip of design and aging wood it never becomes obnoxious. The light from the window slots, high above ground level and glazed with that cross-wired glass for security, falls at the moment on no fewer than five Edinburgh long-case clocks, two pianolas, and one remarkable object which is either a mechanised rocking horse or something more outré for which Joe will have to find a rather racy sort of buyer. These grand prizes are surrounded by lesser ephemera and common-or-garden stock: crank-handle telephones, gramophones and curiosities. And there, on a plinth, is the Death Clock.

It’s just a piece of Victorian tat, really. A looming skeleton in a cowl drives a chariot from right to left, so that—to the western European observer, used to reading from left to right—he is coming to meet us. He has his scythe slung conveniently across his back for easy reaping, and a scrawny steed with an evil expression pulls the thing onward, ever onward. The facing wheel is a black clock with very slender bone hands. It has no chime; the message is perhaps that time passes without punctuation, but passes all the same. Joe’s grandfather, in his will, commended it to his heir for “special consideration”—the mechanism is very clever, motivated by atmospheric fluctuation—but the infant Joe was petrified of it, and the adolescent resented its immutable, morbid promise. Even now—particularly now, when thirty years of age is visible in his rear-view mirror and forty glowers at him from down the road ahead, now that his skin heals a little more slowly than it used to from solder burn and nicks and pinks, and his stomach is less a washboard and more a comfy if solid bench—Joe avoids looking at it.

The Death Clock also guards his only shameful secret, a minor, practical concession to the past and the financial necessities. In the deepest shadows of the warehouse, next to the leaky part of the wall and covered in a grimy dustsheet, are six old slot machines—genuine one-armed bandits—which he is refurbishing for an old acquaintance named Jorge. Jorge (“Yooorrr-geh! With passion like Pasternak!” he tells new acquaintances) runs a number of low dives which feature gambling and other vices as their main attractions, and Joe’s job is to maintain these traditional machines—which now dispense tokens for high-value amounts and intimate services rather than mere pennies—and to bugger them systematically so that they pay out on rare occasions or according to Jorge’s personal instruction. The price of continuity in the clockworking business is minor compromise.

The floor above—the living area, where Joe has a bed and some old wooden wardrobes big enough to conceal a battleship—is a beautiful space. It has broad, arched windows and mellowed red-brick walls which look out onto the river on one side, and on the other an urban landscape of stores and markets, depots and back offices, lock-ups, car dealerships, Customs pounds, and one vile square of green-grey grass which is protected by some indelible ordinance and thus must be allowed to fester where it lies.

All very fine, but the warehouse has recently acquired one serious irritant: a cat. At some time, one mooring two hundred yards up was allowed to go to a houseboat, on which lives a very sweet, very poor family called Watson. Griff and Abbie are a brace of mildly paranoid anarchists, deeply allergic to paperwork and employment on conscientious grounds. There’s a curious courage to them both: they believe in a political reality which is utterly terrifying, and they’re fighting it. Joe is never sure whether they’re mad or just alarmingly and uncompromisingly incapable of self-delusion.

In any case, he gives any spare clockwork toys he has to the Watsons, and eats dinner with them once in a while to make sure they’re still alive. They in their turn share with him vegetables from their allotment and keep an eye on the warehouse if he goes away for the weekend. The cat (Joe thinks of it as ‘the Parasite’) adopted them some months ago and now rules the houseboat by a combination of adept political and emotional pressure brought to bear through ...

Revue de presse

"Angelmaker is another cracking book from Nick Harkaway. It's a mix of sci-fi, steampunk, adventure and romance and the mix of genres work really well together . Harkaway's Angelmaker is a brilliant piece of escapism. It's a wonderful example of how an irreverent approach to much loved genres can lead to a truly great story." (Nudge)

"Nick Harkaway's joyfully reckless invention is as intricate as clockwork ... Edie has a tangled history, the uncovering of which is one of the chief pleasures of Nick Harkaway's novel ... is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in ages ... brilliantly entertaining, and the last hundred pages are pure, unhinged delight. What a splendid ride." (Patrick Ness Guardian)

"What kind of a mind dreams up Angelmaker . It could only be Nick Harkaway: bonkers, brilliant and hilarious . clever and entirely fantastic." (Sunday Times)

"An entertaining tour-de-force that demands to be adored." (Independent on Sunday)

"A puzzle box of a novel as fascinating as the clockwork bees it contains." (Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 883 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 498 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0307743624
  • Editeur : Cornerstone Digital (2 février 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B006VTPC16
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°93.146 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
3.0 étoiles sur 5 madness 13 janvier 2014
Par Rug
Format:Format Kindle
This book should be labelled as science fiction.
It is a cross between Walace and Grommit, Tombraider, 20,000 leagues under the sea, Terminator and Dawn of the Dead.
If that sounds totally bonkers that’s exactly what it is.
The first half works in a quirky intriguing and fun sort of Victorain gothic Jules Verne kind of way.
The characters are well written and some of the dialogue is excellent. It's a really interesting way of looking at the world
The second half- when he introduces the indestructible androids, super human baddie, evil genius and zombies is utterly ridiculous.

I give it 3 stars for the first half I really enjoyed and nothing for after it got stupid.
Very disappointing.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  127 commentaires
43 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Simply Stunning 18 février 2012
Par John Lemut - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
"Angelmaker" by Nick Harkaway is such a densely written and intricately plotted work that my feelings about it are nearly exclusively positive (glowing, even), but I did find myself somewhat frustrated on occasion at its verboseness--the only negative I found within this novel. But there's no denying Harkaway is a gifted author and storyteller.

One of the many things that make this book not just your average spy thriller is that although it takes place primarily in contemporary London, all the gadgets and doo-dads are from an older time and they're clockwork-driven mysteries unto themselves. There are no James Bond-sey gadgets that will seem ridiculous in fifteen years. The mystique of the Apprehension Engine and all the rest is they are already far-fetched, but they're somehow believable because they are call backs to a time when things like craftsmanship and artisanship meant something. Not to be down on technology-age devices, but there's an allure to those things that had no microchips or electronics, things that someone made with delicate instruments they themselves also made. How did anyone get anything done back them? This book captures these ideas wonderfully, like clockwork.

From Joe Spork, the protagonist, to supporting characters with names like Rodney Titwhistle, Clarissa Foxglove, Arvin Cummerbund and Edie Banister, it's the little details in this book that truly give it shape. I kept expecting to turn the page and be introduced to a character named Fotheringay, perhaps a kindly, grey-haired, bespectacled old boy stuck at a middle rank in Her Majesty's Secret Service or something (sorry, but I love "The Prisoner").

The humor in this book, often delivered sharply and without any real setup, at times is very obvious and is at other times so sly, you'll find yourself thinking back on it a paragraph or two later with a chuckle. The back stories of the characters and Joe's family lineage were page-turning and the ramp up in action at the end of the book was thrilling.

If you made it this far in the review, I hope you'll take my praise for "Angelmaker" to heart and consider giving it a read.

I received this book at no cost as a member of the Vine Program.
22 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Kraken? This book devours Kraken. 6 février 2012
Par Patrick McCormack - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
There seems to be a trend towards books with magical figures, underworld London types, absurdist escapism with a steam-punk noire flavor. In self-defense, the reader is forced to choose well written examples, and this is one.

What makes this interesting is the lead character, Joe Spork, and some of the asides, for example the lengthy description of the undertaking business from his friend, Billy. Spork is a clock maker/fixer, and the author takes you far enough into that world to be interesting. You come to emphasize with his mannerisms, and style. He is a good man whose grandpa and father were large figures, and his own strengths and goodness appear muted, perhaps only to himself.

The absurdism is funny, and that helps, too. Last year I read China Mieville's Kraken, which had a similar feel, but I found that book kind of dis-spiriting. This is better.

The author weaves strong characters with strange situations and in his best moments, illuminates some aspect of the human condition. In this case, the author takes on the idea that Truth can save human kind, if people can be forced to face it.. in this case through a doomsday device. By making you laugh, the author hides the fact that he has a serious side, and that he is talking about something, as the adventure unwinds.

The author also knows how to accelerate to a finish. Once you get into this world, the book takes off, and you find yourself fist pumping with excitement.
29 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "The Secret Garden" for Adults 6 février 2012
Par Timothy J. Mccarthy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Think of the "Angelmaker" as a sort of shape-shifting novel, by parts sci-fi, adventure, comedy, and tragedy. It's essentially three connected stories stitched together, though not quite seamlessly.

The first story, and easily the best, introduces Joe Spork. The son of one of Britain's greatest criminals, he spends his life admiring his father but trying to follow his grandfather's straight-laced footsteps as a clockmaker. Joe wanders through a Victorian part of London that's become lost to the law-abiding, travelling with friends and acquaintances who are most decidedly different. This part is so quirky, so Marty Feldmanish type of off-the-wall loony, that you have to re-read some of the pages until you get the hang of it. To say Harkaway has a wicked sense of humour doesn't do him justice by half; anyone who can conceive of a dog with a single tooth and two glass eyes has a truly demented and tortured soul. And the test of the Waiting-Men-to-be is something you dare not read on the bus or in an airport.

The second story starts during WWII, and ushers in the gender-bending Edie and Frankie, a fledgling British spy and a genius French inventor who's been co-opted by a megalomaniacal Eastern tyrant to build a doomsday device. This is much darker than the first story, almost shocking in highlighting the villain's depravity. While it has its highpoints, it suffers by the jarring contrast.

The third story is the strange tale of Spork's revenge. It's a mix of the first two stories but pumped up on steroids. With his new girlfriend at his side, Spork blasts into action to save the world, and get a measure of vengeance in the bargain. Utterly manic and bizarre, it drifts too far into the realm of comic book ethos to be fully satisfying.

I'm not sure whether the dedication should acknowledge a debt to Jules Verne, or render an apology. Or both. It's that sort of book. It's better than 4-stars, and well worth reading, but a little more quirkiness and less darkness would have given us a near-perfect read.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A quirky romp that offers more than just fun 27 avril 2012
Par A. Budner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
An inventive intricate bit of literary stew. Harkaway's novel reads like a comic spy thriller, a tour through Peter Ackroyd's and Charles Dickens's London replete with honorable thieves and evil government operatives, a steampunk comic without the pictures, and a P.G. Woodehouse romp all nicely marinated and cooked to tender perfection. Can our hapless hero, Joshua Joseph Spork, a meek and law abiding clockmaker, manage to avert the end of the world? Or will he, and everyone else, meet an untimely end, despite the assistance of a girl with moxie, a vicious if blind elderly pug, a nonagenarian female super spy, the world's craftiest lawyer, his father's tommy gun and the best the London underworld has to offer?

Beneath the frenetic action, "Angelmaker" is about Joe's coming into himself and coming to terms with his family's history. Even while maintaining a light and farcical tone, Joe's emotional life and growth are affecting and along with Harkaway's interest in philosophical questions give the book greater resonance than might be expected from the jacket blurbs and a plot summary. The central emotional journey is framed with appealing considerations of such heavyweight questions as the nature of free will, the knowability and implications of absolute truth. Not to mention considerations of faith and morality. Thankfully Harkaway doesn't overplay his hand and manages to integrate these considerations into the plot and character development with appealing breeziness.

The only significant missteps in the book are unfortunately centered on Joe's love interest, Polly. Oftern she is a woman to be reckoned with and her appeal palpable. At other times, however, she is reduced to an adolescent male fantasy figure. Her argument on why she and Joe should have sex is a brilliant piece of logic that, while funny, reads like something every teenage boy wishes had happened to him. At other points she fluctuates wildly between bracing competence and a caricature of a dumb moll. Really, it's just too much. Yes, female characters can like sex, but it makes her into a figure of fun instead of a real person that Joe, a fully realized and emotionally expansive figure, would come to love.

While it is a minor note, as with many novels by talented writers, the editors seem to have backed away from the last little bit of tightening that would have changed little, but made this an even more approachable and tightly crafted novel. I realize it's difficult to quash verbally inventive writing, but there were points where bit jokes were left in when they should have been cut and other points where a touch of extra clarification and emphasis would have tied together plot points in a way that could have helped the story pack an even harder punch.

Minor flaws aside, this is grand fun and I look forward to Harkaway's next outing and in the meantime, I'm planning to read his first book, "The Gone-Away World" though it's too bad he hasn't written more for me to delve into -- yet.
19 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Starts very slowly 4 mars 2012
Par Lynellen Perry - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Anglemaker is about a clockmaker, the son of a notorious criminal, who has tried to live a straight life but gets sucked into a plot to destroy the world using a device his grandmother, a mathematical genius, created (with the idea that it would save the world) and hid. He gets tricked into turning it on, mayhem ensues. It's nearly 600 pages and the first ~125 are really rough/slow going, but if you can push past that and hang through a few other slow bits, the last ~200 pages are a great read and make it worthwhile. (That said, I don't know that I'd spend money on it, but I might look for it in the library.)
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