Umbrella

Umbrella

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Description

""A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella."James Joyce, "Ulysses"" Radical and uncompromising, Umbrella is a tour de force from one of England s most acclaimed contemporary writers, and Self s most ambitious novel to date. Moving between Edwardian London and a suburban mental hospital in 1971, Umbrella exposes the twentieth century s technological searchlight as refracted through the dark glass of a long term mental institution. While making his first tours of the hospital at which he has just begun working, maverick psychiatrist Zachary Busner notices that many of the patients exhibit a strange physical tic: rapid, precise movements that they repeat over and over. One of these patients is Audrey Dearth, an elderly woman born in the slums of West London in 1890. Audrey s memories of a bygone Edwardian London, her lovers, involvement with early feminist and socialist movements, and, in particular, her time working in an umbrella shop, alternate with Busner s attempts to treat her condition and bring light to her clouded world. Busner s investigations into Audrey s illness lead to discoveries about her family that are shocking and tragic."

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Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 157.48 x 228.6 x 38.1mm | 635.03g
  • Grove Press
  • United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0802120725
  • 9780802120724
  • 1,327,761

About Will Self

Will Self is the author of six short-story collections, a book of novellas, eight novels, and six collections of journalism. He lives in London.

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Review quote

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2012 MAN BOOKER PRIZE "A work of throwback modernism . . . an erudite yet barking mad novel about barking madness. . . . You give yourself over to "Umbrella" in flashes, as if it were a radio station you're unable to tune in that you suspect is playing the most beautiful song you will ever hear. . . this novel locks into moments of ungodly beauty and radiant moral sympathy. . . . a bitter critique of how society has viewed (and cared for) those with mental illnesses. It's about myriad other things too: class, the changing nature of British society, trench warfare in World War I, how technology can be counted on to upend everything. At heart it's a novel about seeing. . . . Mr. Self often enough writes with such vividness it's as if he is the first person to see anything at all."--"The New York Times" "A savage and deeply humane novel. . . . . "Umbrella" is an old-fashioned modernist tale with retrofitted ambitions to boot. . . . Self has always been a fabulous writer. . . . The result is page after page of gorgeously musical prose. Self's sentences bounce and weave, and like poetry, they refract. The result is mesmerizing. . . . In its best moments, "Umbrella" compels a reader to the heights of vertigo Woolf excelled at creating.. . . . a triumph of form. With this magnificent novel Will Self reminds that he is Britain's reigning poet of the night."--"Boston Globe" "A virtuosic performance . . . narrated in the allusive, sensory-overloaded style associated with Joyce's "Ulysses." . . . A heady mixture of closely observed (and deeply researched) period details, colorful imagery, surrealistic juxtapositions, and italicized interjections . . . Self's wildly nonlinear narrative offers other delights: richly detailed settings that bring the Edwardian era and mental hospitals sensuously alive, kaleidoscopic patterns of symbolism (umbrellas assume all sorts of forms and functions), and loads of mordant satire."--"The Washington Post

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