Speaking with the Angel (Anglais) Broché – 1 février 2001
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Compiled by bestselling author Nick Hornby and featuring brand new stories from the hottest writers on both sides of the Atlantic, Speaking with the Angel is a fresh and funny collection that is sure to be the literary anthology of the year.
Here is a book that was inspired by a very special boy and a very special school. Some money from each copy of Speaking with the Angel sold will benefit autism education charities around the world, including The Treehouse School in London, where Nick’s son Danny is a student, and the New York Child Learning Institute here in the States. This project is truly a labor of love for Hornby and the other writers involved, many of whom are Nick’s friends.
These original first-person narratives come from the most exciting voices in fiction. Melissa Bank gives readers a glimpse into the mind of a modern New Yorker whose still-new relationship is a constant source of surprise in “The Wonder Spot.” In Zadie Smith’s “I’m the Only One,” a young man recalls his strained relationship with his diva-esque sister. Dave Egger’s “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned,” is told from the viewpoint of an unfortunate pit bull. Helen Fielding offers up a new twist on I’ve fallen and I can’t get up in “Luckybitch.” And in Nick Hornby’s “NippleJesus,” a bruiser finds out that guarding modern art is far more hazardous than controlling the velvet ropes at a nightclub. Speaking with the Angel also includes stories from Roddy Doyle, Irvine Welsh, Colin Firth, John O’Farrell, Robert Harris, Patrick Marber, and Giles Smith.
Twelve completely new stories, written by twelve undeniably imaginative voices. Speaking with the Angel is at turns clever, outrageous, witty, edgy, tender, and wicked. This is what they meant by original.
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PRIME MINISTER: With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement to the House regarding certain incidents of a personal nature. Lire la première page
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These stories run the gamut and are really fun--coming of age tales, unusual narrators (like dogs, humiliated prime ministers, and death-row cooks), and stories that ask the big question: "What is art?" They're fresh, provocative, and often humorous.
Do yourself and a good cause a favor and get this book. It's at the top of my list for gift-giving this year.
Hornby has assembled an all-star team of emerging young writers, most of whom hail from the UK. Actor Colin Firth pens a sort of twisted fairy tale in "The Department of Nothing." Giles Smith gives a portrait of a cook for deathrow inmates. Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones) checks in with an expectedly sarcastic mother/daughter relationship study. American Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) writes from a dog's point of view in "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Was Drowned." Melissa Bank's romantic tale, "The Wonder Spot," was one of my favorites, and Irvine Welsh's unsettling commentary on homophobia, "Catholic Guilt," was also interesting. Hornby himself examines the different effects a work of art can have on people in "Nipple Jesus." Other contributing authors are Robert Harris, Patrick Marber, Zadie Smith, Roddy Doyle, and John O'Farrell. This is quite a collection.
Not surprisingly, my favorite stories were those by authors I already knew and liked, and were very representative of their styles. Editor Hornby's story of a bouncer turned museum guard dealing with a provocative piece of art pokes a stick in the eye of pretentious Saatchi collection art types. Irvine Welsh's "Catholic Guilt" starts as a very basic "two mates and a bar" story, with his usual command of dialogue, only to veer into something totally unexpected. Roddy Doyle's "The Slave," is an understated tale of a man who has a minor mid-life crisis sparked by discovery of a dead rat in his kitchen, and it fits in with all his Barrytown novels. Playwright Patrick Marber's "Peter Shelly" is a great little story about teenage love, and I hope to see some more fiction by him soon. Robert Harris's "PMQ" is a very droll statement before Parliament by a Prime Minister trying to account for one bizarre night. I'd only read his thriller "Archangel," which this is completely different from.
I wasn't as taken with the rest of the stories, particularly actor Colin Firth's story "The Department of Nothing" or the Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Melissa Bank (The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing) pieces. But then again, I suspect that women may find more to connect with in the latter two than I did. All the stories are written from first-person perspective, and none is excessively long, so you're not making a huge investment. If you like the authors, you won't be disappointed, and if you haven't read any of them, this is a great sampler.