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Noise Paperback – Apr 1 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Porcupine's Quill; First Edition edition (April 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0889841977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0889841970
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.3 x 22.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

The brain-rattling sounds of the city frame Noise, Russell Smith's smart and engaging follow-up to his popular debut novel, How Insensitive. Our hero, James Willing, finds himself caught between the placid but boring world of the suburbs he left behind and the noisy, ultra-hip downtown scene that feels just as alienating. He stumbles into a job as a restaurant critic, writing pretentious reviews that make him an unwilling arbiter of all that is cool in Toronto.

When James loses his apartment in rather dramatic fashion, he crashes at his friend Piers De Courcy's place, where they wax philosophic, mainly about James's life, and drink copious amounts of fine wine, which they describe in hilarious detail. (A '79 Les Ormes du Pez, declares De Courcy, offers a "quiet voice of reason ... whimsical, patient, tolerant of human foibles.") James is terrorized by De Courcy's Maritime roommate and her jock boyfriend, an arts-grant-gobbling performance artist, and finds his attention divided between two women who personify his struggle between the suburbs and the city: Alison, a single mother from back home, and Nicola, a tattooed and studded überbabe photographer whom James enlists to shoot an overrated Prairie writer he is interviewing for a large American publication. Alison turns out to be less grounded than she appears, while Nicola is the type of high-maintenance slacker that has driven millions of men to despair. James is both drawn to and repelled by the terrible beauty of city women and the charade of city life, and Smith paints trendy Toronto with an accuracy that will have you either cringing or laughing your head off. --Moe Berg

Review

`You don't have to like James Rainer Willing to like Noise, the exuberant lampoon of which he is the over-elegant centrepiece. And a good thing too -- dour, self-absorbed, the most pretentious restaurant critic ever to hit the pages of a trendy tabloid, Willing is a throwback to the hilariously unsatisfactory heroes and heroines of Kingsley Amis and Evelyn Waugh. Smith, whose 1994 novel, How Insensitive, mined similar territory -- the lives of Toronto's helplessly hip -- offers here a more polished portrait of a distracted magazine writer for whom la vie bohème is rapidly becoming La vie ho-hum. ... Smith picks on the effete and the dowdy with a bracing even-handedness: he's just as good at nailing what makes motel dining rooms so creepy as he is at skewering performance poets.'

(Saturday Night)

`Noise is not so much a novel as a series of sketches. Many of them ... are priceless. In one episode, Willing and his girlfriend visit an upscale restaurant and witness its famous chef and his boyfriend, the sous-chef, having a colossal hissy fit.... In these and other scenes, Smith plays to his strengths -- a well-tuned ear for speech, a keen eye for absurdity, a wicked aptitude for ridicule. These are writerly strengths that Canadian literature badly needs.'

(Toronto Star)

`The brain-rattling sounds of the city frame Noise, Russell Smith's smart and engaging follow-up to his popular debut novel, How Insensitive. Our hero, James Willing, finds himself caught between the placid but boring world of the suburbs he left behind and the noisy, ultra-hip downtown scene that feels just as alienating. He stumbles into a job as a restaurant critic, writing pretentious reviews that make him an unwilling arbiter of all that is cool in Toronto.

`When James loses his apartment in rather dramatic fashion, he crashes at his friend Piers De Courcy's place, where they wax philosophic, mainly about James's life, and drink copious amounts of fine wine, which they describe in hilarious detail. (A '79 Les Ormes du Pez, declares De Courcy, offers a ``quiet voice of reason ... whimsical, patient, tolerant of human foibles.'') James is terrorized by De Courcy's Maritime roommate and her jock boyfriend, an arts-grant-gobbling performance artist, and finds his attention divided between two women who personify his struggle between the suburbs and the city: Alison, a single mother from back home, and Nicola, a tattooed and studded überbabe photographer whom James enlists to shoot an overrated Prairie writer he is interviewing for a large American publication. Alison turns out to be less grounded than she appears, while Nicola is the type of high-maintenance slacker that has driven millions of men to despair. James is both drawn to and repelled by the terrible beauty of city women and the charade of city life, and Smith paints trendy Toronto with an accuracy that will have you either cringing or laughing your head off.'

(Moe Berg amazon.ca)

`One of Smith's aims in this fast-moving, often entertaining book is to satirize Toronto (a Toronto for which he also clearly shows an affection). The city comes across as maniacally trendy, a place teeming with poseurs.'

(Kegan Doyle Canadian Literature)

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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emily Simek on Dec 26 2004
Format: Paperback
Starting with Smith's 'How Insensitive', which is a yummy snack of a book that I gulped down in two days, I then chased it with 'Noise', which is denser and fuller-bodied. I am so pleased to have discovered an author of Smith's wry wit, cynicism, sensuality, wickedness, masochism, and (relative) youth. I am hungry for his remaining novels and short stories. I've finally found a Canadian author that I am proud to say I admire and whose work I feel cool about recommending/lending/gifting to my close friends. It is so comforting to know that someone else outside of my circle feels the same weird way about Toronto, suburbia, and Ontario. Smith's medium is the realm of the senses, and 'Noise' makes the same allusions to the auditory that Suskind's 'Perfume' does for the olfacotry. You will find your protagonist, and yourself, in a constant yet not unenjoyable state of sensory arousal and psychological frustration and stimulation that never seems to be truly satisfied, save for brief but inconsequential intervals...much like life itself, no? Smith's constant battle between 'breeder-esque' conformity and single hipsterdom is amusing and really speaks to people who are at the stage of their lives when they are trying to figure out if they want to follow their dreams of excess and bohemia or that of predictable employment. Both Smith's 'How insensitive' and 'Noise' remind me somewhat of Wolf's 'bonfire of the vanities', but I find that Smith's dialogue and descriptions are much smoother and leave very little room for stopping - you just have to keep going, its that addictive. Bravo, Russell Smith, keep the writing coming!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 8 1999
Format: Paperback
In the crowded field of new novelists trying to capture the sound and sensitivities of present 20-somethings (a generation beyond Gen-X), "Noise" stands out much as Kerouac or Richard Farina did in their time. Smith's ear for language and easy facility in slipping in and out of the au courant phrases in a spectrum of fields gives a smooth flow with few jarring linguistic display-pieces. As good a send-up of modern dining obsessions as I've read since Stuart Stevens' "Feeding Frenzy."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 7 1998
Format: Paperback
Russell Smith's first novel, _How Insensitive_, rocked the Canadian literary world. It was nominated for several of the country's highest awards. _Noise_, his second book, is even better. It's a witty, hilarious look at Toronto's disaffected young urbanites. It's published by The Porcupine's Quill, a small literary press that is attracting a lot of great new writers.
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Format: Paperback
If books about disenchanted youth in the downtown core of a city centre are you bag, then this books has your name written all over it. Smith does an excellent job of capturing the blasé mood that has stricken many of the youth/young adults in today's world as they try to hold on the trappings of their youth, while being kicked into getting jobs by an economy that is hungry for new blood.
Give this novel a read. You might just surprise yourself.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Novelist's second book triumphs Dec 7 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Russell Smith's first novel, _How Insensitive_, rocked the Canadian literary world. It was nominated for several of the country's highest awards. _Noise_, his second book, is even better. It's a witty, hilarious look at Toronto's disaffected young urbanites. It's published by The Porcupine's Quill, a small literary press that is attracting a lot of great new writers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An excellent read. Jan. 8 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the crowded field of new novelists trying to capture the sound and sensitivities of present 20-somethings (a generation beyond Gen-X), "Noise" stands out much as Kerouac or Richard Farina did in their time. Smith's ear for language and easy facility in slipping in and out of the au courant phrases in a spectrum of fields gives a smooth flow with few jarring linguistic display-pieces. As good a send-up of modern dining obsessions as I've read since Stuart Stevens' "Feeding Frenzy."
de-lish Dec 26 2004
By Emily Simek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Starting with Smith's 'How Insensitive', which is a yummy snack of a book that I gulped down in two days, I then chased it with 'Noise', which is denser and fuller-bodied. I am so pleased to have discovered an author of Smith's wry wit, cynicism, sensuality, wickedness, masochism, and (relative) youth. I am hungry for his remaining novels and short stories. I've finally found a Canadian author that I am proud to say I admire and whose work I feel cool about recommending/lending/gifting to my close friends. It is so comforting to know that someone else outside of my circle feels the same weird way about Toronto, suburbia, and Ontario. Smith's medium is the realm of the senses, and 'Noise' makes the same allusions to the auditory that Suskind's 'Perfume' does for the olfacotry. You will find your protagonist, and yourself, in a constant yet not unenjoyable state of sensory arousal and psychological frustration and stimulation that never seems to be truly satisfied, save for brief but inconsequential intervals...much like life itself, no? Smith's constant battle between 'breeder-esque' conformity and single hipsterdom is amusing and really speaks to people who are at the stage of their lives when they are trying to figure out if they want to follow their dreams of excess and bohemia or that of predictable employment. Both Smith's 'How insensitive' and 'Noise' remind me somewhat of Wolf's 'bonfire of the vanities', but I find that Smith's dialogue and descriptions are much smoother and leave very little room for stopping - you just have to keep going, its that addictive. Bravo, Russell Smith, keep the writing coming!
Smith's finest work April 8 2005
By NorthVan Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If books about disenchanted youth in the downtown core of a city centre are you bag, then this books has your name written all over it. Smith does an excellent job of capturing the blasé mood that has stricken many of the youth/young adults in today's world as they try to hold on the trappings of their youth, while being kicked into getting jobs by an economy that is hungry for new blood.
Give this novel a read. You might just surprise yourself.


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