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Who's Sorry Now? [Paperback]

Howard Jacobson

Price: CDN$ 18.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 7 2003
From the author of The Mighty Walzer, winner of the Everyman Wodehouse Award, for comic writing.

Marvin Kreitman, the luggage baron of South London, lives for women. At present he loves four -- his mother, his wife Hazel, and his two daughters -- and is in love with five more. Charlie Merriweather, on the other hand, loves just the one woman, his wife of twenty years. Once a week the two friends meet for a Chinese lunch in Soho, contriving never quite to have the conversation they would like to have. Until today, that is. What follows shows Howard Jacobson in majestic form -- unnervingly truthful, poignant, and very, very funny.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (April 7 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099437376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099437376
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #948,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Howard Jacobson is widely acclaimed as a humorous writer. Who’s Sorry Now? is exceedingly funny but for all the bubbling wit, word play and satirical gibes it is infused with darkness. If his last book, the semi-autobiographical The Mighty Walzer, was Philip Roth’s Portnoy's Complaint relocated to 1950s Manchester, then this is possibly Jacobson's American Pastoral.

Who’s Sorry Now? centres on Marvin Kreitman, a middle-aged Jewish Lothario, a man with a "nostalgic affection for many of the old discredited categories of masculine swagger". He was once a promising young academic but somehow ended up following in the footsteps of his father--a curmudgeon who hawked purses at a street market in Balham. Now the owner of a thriving leather goods business, Kreitman has a wife and two grown-up children, an elegant house in south London and a string of mistresses. Each week he meets his old university friend Charlie Merriweather for a Chinese meal in Soho. Charlie is a big, puppy dog of a man, brutalised by his public schooling but seemingly (if a little soppily) devoted to his wife and family. The Merriweathers enjoy "nice sex" and write children’s books. To indulge in a vaguely pertinent culinary metaphor, Charlie is sweet to Marvin’s sour. However, on this particular day Charlie suggests that they should swap wives--so far so 70s sitcom. Before Marvin can persuade Charlie against the idea, Nyman, a muscle-toned cyclist, runs him down in the street. Nyman is the novel’s malevolent force. Following the crash, this apparent nobody, an enigmatic wannabe television star, weasels his way into their lives and triggers a series of unexpected couplings, leaving Kreitman’s daughter to enquire at one point: "Who’s doing what to whom this time?"

Jacobson examines sexual obsession and infidelity in ribald, if poignant detail. However, it is his exploration of the painful scars left by family life that make this book both riveting and, certainly at its end, disturbing. Although it is littered with wonderfully amusing barbs against the cult of personality, installation art and even backpacker yarn The Beach, there is probably more tragedy than comedy in this remarkable novel.--Travis Elborough --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Jacobson’s humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade…comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh.” -- Sunday Express

“There are few novelists today who can imbue the trifles of life with such poetry.” -- Independent

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm sorry now Oct. 10 2013
By Jeff Brody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jacobson has many gifts ... Finkler was a great book. But discursive and clever don't mean squat if you have nothing to say, and if you say nothing without humor, and at length. "Who's Sorry Now" has nothing to say, and it takes forever to say it, and it's not funny. Jacobson has written one very good-to-great book. It's not this one.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disspassionate Witness Deflates Emotional Impact of Infidelity Jan. 13 2013
By Paige Turner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read this because I enjoyed The Finkler Question so much. However, it disappoints. Wordy occassionally drily humorous commentary promises a close and amusing look at two contemporary British marriages. It never seems to take flight as characters remain one-dimensional (wives Hazel and Chas for example) , or cyphers ( Charlie and Nyman) whose sexual modus operandii substitute for personality.

Kreitman, the protagonist, remains trapped by his conflicted view of women, his desires, and his reputation, galvanized to inaction, unable to connect fully with either the people he cares about, or his moral precepts. Jacobson`s narrator observes and reports and often analyzes, but never really invites the reader to explore as the tale unfolds. We remain as disengaged as the group in the novel. As a porrtrait of contemporary marriage and sexuality it`s a bleak picture.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic novel with a deep social conscience Jan. 21 2005
By Reader from Singapore - Published on Amazon.com
Howard Jacobson is a brilliant comic writer just waiting for that breakout novel to catapult him into the ranks of young promising talents who get their first exposure to the reading public on the strength of making the Booker shortlist. Well, "Who's Sorry Now (WSN)" made the longlist a couple of years ago but inexplicably got no further. That's a real shame because WSN should have been that breakout novel. It's hilarious and an out and out winner in the best English tradition of comic writing. Crisply written, hugely funny, razor sharp in its humour, deadly in its comic timing, yet terribly sad in its observation of the state of contemporary life in England.

Those with an inherently biased view that comic writing has to be lightweight and frivolous should read WSN and then reconsider. Such is the deceptive modesty and slyness of Jacobson's aim that before each laughter dies on your lips - usually after another of Marvin's or Charlie's pathetic antics - you begin to discern the taste of bile in your mouth. The Kreitmans and Merriweathers are or think they're good friends until the men agree on a spouse swapping experiment to cure one of them of boredom born of envy and fidelity. The contrasting lifestyles and social milieu of the couples soon find the experiment taking them to places they never imagined. Happiness and bliss from their new coupling soon dissipates, and here's when the plot takes a surprising turn. Jacobson's deftness and sureness of touch shines through in the spying sequence that ends on a deliciously jaw dropping note ! The novel winds down dispensing a general sense of poetic justice, though not everyone comes off safely. Some emerge with more than a scratch. The title's message is reserved deservedly for Marvin.

WSN isn't all about sex and infidelity. The relevance of the family as a social unit, class-based lifestyles and cultural snobbery all come under Jacobson's cleared-eyed scrutiny. Naturally, the verdict isn't encouraging.

WSN isn't funny ha-ha. It's a comic novel with a deep social conscience and that's a rarity.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark-black comedy Aug. 3 2007
By Raphael Rubin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jacobson is a genius. I read WSN after his recent masterpiece Kalooki Nights. Both novels are the blackest comedies imbued with high purpose. The big puzzle: why are Jacobon's books not widely read in the U.S.?? Anyone else across the pond we don't know about??

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