Hangover Square Abridged Compact Discs Audio CD – Audiobook, Sep 20 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Hamilton (1904–1962) captures the edgy, obsessive and eventually murderous mindset of a romantically frustrated British man in this WWII-era novel published in the U.S. as a separate volume for the first time. As the story opens, 34-year-old George Harvey Bone—a heavyset, good-hearted failure—is obsessed with his ongoing effort to either woo or, frighteningly, kill the lovely Netta Longdon, a callous, smalltime London actress whose charms seem limited to her physical beauty. Longdon shows little interest in Bone's advances, but she always seems ready to take advantage of Bone's generosity and to stab him in the back by, say, sleeping with one of his lowlife cohorts. As the book progresses and Bone gets more and more intense, it becomes clear that the virtual fugue state that he periodically enters is undiagnosed schizophrenia—the twist is that everyone else's behavior is so beastly that Bone's plottings feel pretty much deserved. Hamilton is less successful introducing political material on Hitler's rise to power as the forces of war begin to overwhelm Britain, but the subtle power of the free indirect prose he uses to render Bone's deteriorating mind makes this an impressive character study and an oblique (and bleak) look at beleaguered prewar London. (Jan.)
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* Rhind-Tutt's presentation of Bone's cinematic first-person narrative cleverly builds the tension of the mental conflicts which make up Bone's distorted vision of what is going on around him. It's a tense and gripping study of a drink-fuelled mental disintegration. Rachel Redford, The ObserverSee all Product Description
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At its core is the book's main character, George Harvey Bone. George is obsessed with Netta Longdon for reasons that, I must admit, are completely unclear to me as she is one of the coldest and calculating women imaginable. A true femme fetale, really. She keeps punishing George and the poor sap just keeps coming back for more. In the midst of all this George has bouts with schizophrenia and 'moods' that severely hamper him and ultimately cause him to plot his revenge on everyone that he perceives as ever having wronged him.
Lots of novels have been written around drink with young drunks at their core, but nothing I've read has gone quite this deep into the allures of inebriation. However what really elevates Hangover Square is the manner in which the subtle charms and peaceful bliss of sobriety are also unearthed. One character sums it up by wondering if the hangover and the night before occurred in reverse chronology, would we even drink in the first place ? This inner calm of sobriety might be best exemplified by George's golf outing. It is an afternoon that proves to be both an escape from his mates and a confidence builder to be rewarded later by an 'in crowd', that opposed to his clique, actually possess some redeeming qualities. For the time being, he is validated.
I found Hangover Square in an odd way. I read a scathing review of a new novel by the book critic of The Atlantic wherein he blasted the new release that everyone else was raving about. His blanket negativity, in some weird way, fascinated me. So I looked into the guy and saw that he pretty much hated EVERYTHING. The web is a wonderful thing, so I took it on myself to find something- anything, that this critic found acceptable. Eventually I found something that he actually liked and it was Hangover Square, so I thought I'd read it. I am grateful that I did.
The journey is the reward here. 'Literary thriller' is an overused term, but here it is a very accurate description as plot, characterization and a life outlook all combine brilliantly. Patrick Hamilton's writing style is a direct one and a pleasure to read. The book grabbed me from the beginning. It covers all the bases and contains some wonderfully euphoric passages, but know that in the end it is a sad tale with a sad ending.
A great book - read it.
Most of the people surrounding Bone have fun at his expense, including Netta. George does recognize this, but he has no willpower to break out of this situation, so he keeps suffering, and this mental suffering probably contributes to his schizophrenic spells, during which he nurses murderous thoughts.
This book brings to mind both Idiot and The Insulted and Humiliated by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and this is not too huge an exaggeration: Hamilton does create very powerful and gripping characters, narrative and social scenery, so comparison with Dostoevsky at least gives one a proper framework to place both Hangover Square and The Slaves of Solitude.
Lots of details, very clear and powerful language - this book deserves to be much better known than, say, "The Collector" by Fowles, but... when they asked Beethoven why his 8th is much less popular than his 7th, he replied: "But it's so much better, that's why!"
Indicating in the subtitle that this is "A story of darkest Earl's Court," Hangover Square is set in what was then a seamy, low-rent district of London, a place in which those who were down on their luck, out of work, or homeless could manage to scrounge through life. Bars and cheap entertainment provided evening activities for people who often did not get up before noon. George Harvey Bone, the main character here, is out of work. Like the other unemployed and under-employed people he associates with, he lives on the fringes of the entertainment business-part-time actors and actresses, managers, and movie makers who party long and hard, fueled by massive quantities of alcohol.
George's drinking might have triggered his earliest his "blackouts," but here they have become more frequent and more debilitating--psychotic episodes of schizophrenia which end with the demand that he kill Netta Longdon to save himself. Netta is a failed actress--a beautiful, spoiled, and manipulative woman who ignores George except when she wants money, a woman who sleeps around with his friends (though not with him), and uses him. He is so desperate for her attentions, however, that he allows himself to be degraded, always hoping that she will see him for the person he really is. As he is driven closer to the edge and as his "dead moods" get closer together, the suspense grows. "Getting killed would serve her jolly well right," he rationalizes.
The narrative line, which takes place inside George's head, is strong and emotionally affecting, and though many contemporary readers will be frustrated at George's passivity in the face of Netta's abuse, few will fail to empathize. Based in part on his own life, the novel is an intense psychological drama written by a man who became an alcoholic at a young age, after being disfigured in an accident. Frequently developing passionate but unrequited attachments, he wrote about these women in his novels. Famed actress Geraldine Fitzgerald was recognized as the model for Netta Longdon, something her obituary confirms. Mary Whipple
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