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Kensington Gardens [Paperback]

Fresan Rodrigo


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Book Description

Aug. 30 2005
Spanning more than a century from the late Victorian period - and the intimately-drawn details of the life of J. M. Barrie - to the dawn of the new millennium and the fractured life of an internationally acclaimed children's novelist, Peter Hook, Kensington Gardens weaves an intricate cat's cradle of narratives around the lysergic London of the Swinging Sixties and the boy who never grew up. Growing up in a vast west London estate called Neverland, Hook's childhood was shaped by the mysterious death of his younger brother, his parents' rock-n-roll lifestyle and his father's performances in a seminal band of the time. Yet despite such dysfunctional beginnings, Hook has become the most successful children's author of his generation as the creator of the time-travelling Jim Yang. In Kensington Gardens, Hook narrates his story (and that of Barrie, Peter Pan and Llewelyn Davies) to Keiko Kai, the Japanese actor cursed with the role of playing Jim Yang in the blockbuster movies of his creation. Over the course of one night in a flat in Kensington Gardens, a fantastical and terrible story emerges - a story of shadow identities and suicide, lost boys and found orphans.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Faber And Faber Ltd. (Aug. 30 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571222803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571222803
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,435,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The "tycoon hermit of children's literature," Peter Hook, kidnaps the child star of the upcoming film version of his hero's adventures Jim Yang: The Movie. The book is constructed as a confession foisted by Hook on the bound and drugged child star Keiko Kai, one that reels back through Hook's life story. Hook's parents were an emblematic '60s couple: his mother, Alexandra Swinton-Menzies, was a modish scion of the aristocracy; his father, Sebastian Compton-Lowe, was the leader of a cult band, the Victorians; the mysterious death of a brother, Baco, unfolds as Hook's confession reaches its end and relates to the deaths of Hook's parents. All of this took place before Hook's childish eyes, through which we also see, in the style of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, celebrated '60s people. Into this mix, Fresán, an Argentina-born, 10-novel veteran making his debut in English, inserts the life of Peter Pan's creator, J.M. Barrie (of whom there is a statue in London's Kensington Garden), Barrie's nonsexual cuckolding of Arthur Llewelyn-Davies and his slow takeover of the Llewelyn-Davies family. Unfortunately, Barrie's story threatens to do the same thing with Fresan's novel. Fresan has things to say about childhood, the '60s, history, death and youth, but he does not successfully imagine a character to hang them on. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Fresan's debut in English (his nine other books haven't been translated) is the monologue of Peter Hook, pseudonymous author of a hit series of children's novels featuring time-traveling boy bicyclist Jim Yang. Its audience is the actor chosen to star in the first Jim Yang movie. He is bound and gagged, abducted to hear the harangue and join Hook in out-the-window flight a la Peter Pan. Hook's discourse interweaves his life as the early-orphaned son of aristocratic English musicians who participated in the 1960s British rock efflorescence, and the life of J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan. The themes are childhood, time, and nostalgic obsession. The supporting cast of Hook's life consists of famous real people, and the people and events of Barrie's life are only subtly embellished for dramatic purposes. Barrie proves much more interesting than Hook, and Barrie's era much more interesting than the swingin'-London sixties. The rhetorical variety and popular-cultural acuity Fresan gives Hook are pretty spellbinding, amply compensating for an utter absence of plot. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars more magical realism than magic Aug. 20 2006
By budababy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you buy this book, approach it with the realization that you are reading a novel written in the style of Spanish fiction, not American or British fiction. This book is more closely aligned with Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Hundred Years of Solitude than anything to do with our Peter Pan. It is a novel of great disourse and discursive wanderings on philosophical ideas about death, identity, creativity and more. It should be read slowly. You should know that it will take time, that you can't (or shouldn't) hurry through it. There IS an actual story and plot and things to be revealed, but they are only part of the whole. I enthusiastically recommend this book for anyone with time, patience and the ability to lose him/herself in the long, winding sentences of Spanish fiction.

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