- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Books; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573226521
- ISBN-13: 978-1573226523
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 394 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Beach Paperback – Feb 1 1998
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"A book that moves with the kind of speed and grace many older writers can only day-dream about. The Beach is ambitious, propulsive fiction." --The Washington Post
“What makes The Beach a truly awesome piece of work is Garland’s understated, assured depiction of the perils of pop." --The Village Voice
“The Beach will astonish readers... Not since reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History has this reader been so impressed and taken with a first novel.” --USA Today
“The Beach is an awesome first novel that works as an adventure story, an allegory and an explanation for why every human since Adam and Eve has an irresistible impulse to create a perfect world and destroy it. A wonderful adventure and allegory that may be the best novel written by anyone currently younger than 30.” --Sunday Oregonian
“Alex Garland... has a clear, engaging storytelling style and a vivid imagination. Deftly, he uses real-life travel details--smells, optical effects, quirks of language, social rituals--to keep the reader’s disbelief at bay.” --The New York Times Book Review
“Remarkable.... astonishingly assured.... The Beach is distinguished by Garland’s bracingly transparent prose and tells a classic story of generational envy and displacement. A luminous voyage into the dark side of humanity’s increasingly tenuous dreams of paradise.” --Salon
“Generation X meets Lord of the Flies in this ripping good adventure yarn...Garland shows a precociously sure hand in this taut, exotic thriller. For a young author, he knows too well the peril of finding paradise on earth...a skillful first novel about the demise of an earthly paradise.” --People
“[G]ripping, intelligent and written with a discipline many young writers only grow into." --New York Newsday
“The Beach makes for a relevant and fascinating read....an excellent critique of the backpacker phenomenon--its nouveau colonialism and its tragically misdirected idealism.” --Time Out
“Garland’s provocative style--somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Bret Easton Ellis, and Stephen King--creates a modern-day Eden where Nintendo Game-boy, "Apocalypse Now," and a drug-trafficking Thai militia blend seamlessly into the landscape.” --Vogue
About the Author
Alex Garland is the author of the bestselling generational classic The Beach (which was adapted into a major motion pictures starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and of The Tesseract, a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book. He also wrote the original screenplay of the critically acclaimed film 28 Days Later.
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"The Beach" is the story of Richard, a disillussioned Brit headed for Thailand because travel really is an escape for him. Once there, he meets a strange man named Daffy Duck, who explains to him a story about a beach, completely protected from the ocean, where everything is perfect. Aware that he is hearing Eden described to him, Richard recruits his new French friends, Etienne and Francoise, to go on an adventure, and try to find this beach that is more legend than reality. The pace at which Alex Garland writes is similar to that of an adventure novel, and at face value, that is exactly how you could interpret "The Beach". But it is more than that, and it seems to be much more to those who have travelled.
When the beach is found, it is a chance for everyone to start again, to create their own little world where there are not the usual problems. This is a utopia, surrounded by some of Mother Nature's best work, and some good people willing to make life on the beach possible.
Garland writes in many cultural references, including many quotes from "Apocalypse Now" and endless references to Game Boy games. This gives the book enough touches of reality that there is a small part in your brain wondering if such a place could actually exist.
This novel is also a metaphor for modern society, building itself up before the inevitable desire to destroy itself takes over. We tear down the things we hold dearest, and this is a human charateristic that exists even in a perfect world, even on the beach. There are many themes here, including how far would you go to keep everything perfect, even when you know that things could never be the same.
Alex Garland has created a masterpiece in "The Beach", and from experience, this book is a cult favorite among those who dare strap on the backpack and seek new adventure. An absolute must-read, there is something for everyone in this novel.
I was very impressed with Alex Garland's writing style at the time. His British backpacker Richard is distant and sardonic. He doesn't get any romance in the book, although he starts receiving all-too-corporeal visitations from a dead man he hardly knows, and quite possibly sets a record for most drugs consumed in one novel. The pop culture references fly fast and furious, and even in a world where pop culture "generations" pass every two to three years, the 1996 of "The Beach" -- and its protagonist born in '74, a year after me -- still seems famliar one.
Obviously, "The Beach" presents no paradise. Richard risks his life three times just to get there, and quickly discovers several dark secrets at the heart of his island idyll. The other commune dwellers are also backpackers -- vague, non-demoninational left-wing travellers, running away not so much from the world as from middle-class tourists. Soon, some members of the by-invitation-only community are dead, others have food poisoning, and the batteries are dead in the island's one GameBoy. Richard is banished to the island's cliffs, where he loses his mind and witnesses a moment of unspeakable horror. Things do turn out all right for the 4 or 5 characters we actually care about, and Garland pulls no punches in the end.
My backpacker fantasy ended 2 weeks after it started, and remained unfulfilled. This book certainly didn't help prolong it, mostly 'cause Garland never provided a satisfactory answer as to what backpackers use in lieu of toilet paper. I wasn't quite as enthralled after a second reading, with the surprise factor gone. I still recommend this book as superior to the movie, which curiously eliminates one of the book's more interesting characters (Jed) and alters two very creepy moments at the end to something less than scary.
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