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Horned Man Hardcover – Apr 25 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton (April 25 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393003361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393003369
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 372 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,345,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
One afternoon earlier this winter, in a moment of idle curiosity, I took a book from the shelf in my office and began reading it where it fell open on a piece of compressed tissue that had evidently been used as a bookmark. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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By Sarah Dimaria on April 19 2004
Format: Paperback
Like one of the other reviewers of this book, I was also "left scratching my head"! I found that I was drawn in at the beginning but as the story wore on I was hoping more and more that the end would provide some clarification as to what exactly the story was about. Not quite the page turner I was expecting and I found by the time I reached the end I was baffled and unsatisfied. I didn't like the story but it was beautifully written.
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Format: Hardcover
I think that this book is considerably overrated by the reviewers. I read it complete in about four hours. The initial setup is good, and some of the flashbacks are engrossing -- more engrossing, in fact, than the main narrative line of the story. There is also a fine description of political- correctness-induced paranoia and continual self-monitoring for unconscious violations; that issue would have been a better subject for the whole story, but it becomes less and less relevant as the story progresses.
I believe that fully a third of the text, consisting of repetitive ruminations and descriptions of his mood, could have been omitted without loss, indeed it would have improved the pacing of the story. The book is told entirely from the narrator's physical viewpoint. None of the other characters have depth or dimension to them -- they are there simply as plot devices.
The flavor of the narrative is consciously Kafkaesque (helpfully pointed out by a subplot involving a stage production of a Kafka story). It could have used a healthy dose of Dostoyevsky, that is, the story would have been much more dimensional if the narrator had any awareness or conscious purpose in his conduct.
Other novels of academia that I would recommend: The Blue Angel, by Francis Prose, is a better satire of academia's infestation by political correctness and resulting paranoia. For a hilarious account of academic personalities and politics, nothing tops Richard Russo's Straight Man. For the mind of the criminal -- see Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, who was, after all, a student.
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By ra2sky on Aug. 21 2003
Format: Paperback
It's hard to describe this book. The writing is terrific and the main character is disturbingly well described. However, I had a hard time finishing this book...I guess I didn't find the plot very compelling. Or maybe I wasn't reading closely enough because there were a couple of plot turns that left me scratching my head. This is not a book to zip through. But the writing is superb.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a piece of literature masquerading as a thriller. The mystery surrounds Lawrence Miller and his connections to the disappearance of several women to whom he finds himself connected throughout the novel. To say that this is what the book is about would be to shortchange Lasdun's efforts here. The greater theme underlying the book is ambiguity and perception.
All in all, if you're looking for a satisfying whodunnit where the villain unveils his scheme in the penultimate scene, then move right along. This book isn't for you. However, if you appreciate smart writing and character studies and the duplicity of perception, then chances are you'll appreciate this book.
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Format: Paperback
After reading this fantastic novel, it should come as no surprise that James Lasdun won a Best Screenplay prize at Sundance some years ago, for "The Horned Man" (HM) is cinematic if nothing else. The only surprise is that it hasn't - to the best of my knowledge - been optioned for film but if and when that happens, there is no one better to direct the movie than David Lynch, the master of celluloid surrealism.
It is hard to tell if Lawrence Miller is living or hallucinating his nightmare existence. After all, he may not be the most reliable of narrators. He is plagued by self-doubt, the result of an emotionally scarring incident involving his step-sister recalled most colourfully and in great style by Lasdun. His wife has left him and he is seeing a shrink. But we take what we read at face value. Then strange things begin to happen and Lawrence thinks he's losing his mind or there's somebody - a disembodied soul perhaps - occupying his office at night or worse spying on him all the time he's working from a little space under his desk. Lasdun cranks up the spook factor by revealing that the previous (day) occupant of his room died under mysterious circumstances and some of her belongings are still left in the room.
Lasdun then plants evidence suggesting that our invisible stalker may be a shadowy Bulgarian playwright figure whom we never get to meet. From then on, HM starts to pan out like familiar episodes from "Twin Peaks". No, there are no dwarfs but Lawrence starts mistaking a strange exotic woman for the shrink he is seeing, getting drawn almost against his will into a totally unreal relationship with a woman attorney, dressing up in his dead ex-colleague's clothes to follow a lead in his investigations, and trading physical blows with a faceless violent presence.
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Format: Paperback
A beautifully crafted work that first captivates, then challenges the reader. I certainly plan to read it again. Readers that gravitate toward literature will find the story and it's telling richly rewarding and stimulating. Readers looking for more traditional mystery/thrillers may be intrigued or dissapointed.
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