HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn
Loading...

Lost for Words (2014)

by Edward St Aubyn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2761441,007 (3.51)43

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Instead of writing a review, I am including an excerpt of this book. This excerpt captures some of the brilliance behind St. Aubyn's writing:

"Nietzsche announced the death of God; Foucault announced the death of Man; the death of Nature announces itself, with no need for an intermediary. As these three elements of our classical discourse dissolve in the acid rain of late Capitalism, we are offered the consolation of its own pale triumvirate: the producer, the consumer and the commodity. Thanks to advertising, the producer sells the commodity to the consumer; thanks to the Internet, the consumer is the commodity sold to the producer. This is the Utopia of border less democracy: a shift of the signifiers in the desert of the Real. This is the playground of unlimited freedom: the opportunity to define ourselves through the gratification of an ever more perverse and hybridized fetishism. This is the celebrated openness of technology that is at the service of perpetual supervision. It is the 'open' field that is the supreme disguise: in the absence of the hidden object, we cannot see what we see, because we have abandoned the need to search. As for searching, let our engines do it for us! The thought that cannot think itself is that we will die of thirst before we reach the shining city of individual gratification, which was never made of anything other than the shimmering heat waves of a collectively conditioned desire." ( )
  AntonioPaola | Jan 27, 2018 |
Fluff....not up to his usual witty standard.. ( )
  APopova | Jan 2, 2017 |
The 2011 Booker awards season is the gift that keeps on giving.

The chair that year was Stella Rimington, an ex-spymaster for MI5 whose purported link to literature is her retirement hobby of penning apparently adequately competent spy thrillers. She wasn’t off to a good start with the literary critics (who she likened to the KGB) when she announced that this year the focus would be on “readability”. One of her judges supported her by saying that for him, the novels “had to zip along”. Oh. My. God! exclaimed the literati. Zippiness? Readability? What about the quality of the writing, of the deeper meanings and layers of the story?

Well, there certainly are books that embrace all of those qualities — they are not mutually exclusive. But they also weren’t on that Booker list. My own conspiracy theory was that the presence of Snowdrops was a case of mistaken identity: the nomination should have gone to [a:Andrew Miller|142462|Andrew Miller|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1354901897p2/142462.jpg], author of the far better book [b:Pure|10116927|Pure|Andrew Miller|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1343662367s/10116927.jpg|15014490], rather than Andrew Miller ([a:A.D. Miller|1158347|A.D. Miller|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1379233436p2/1158347.jpg]), author of the mediocre [b:Snowdrops|9579671|Snowdrops|A.D. Miller|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1329600686s/9579671.jpg|14466568]. But once such a mistake is committed, it would be impossible to correct.
It was fun, nonetheless, to read the snarky articles and comments that permeated the book pages at the Guardian etc as well as the book blogs.

Redemption was achieved when [a:Julian Barnes|1462|Julian Barnes|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1387175450p2/1462.jpg] won. And now it has also provided inspiration for this book.

This is a deliciously fun romp. The sponsor of the prestigious book prize is Elysian, a controversial manufacturer of herbicides and pesticides, ”…a leader in the field of genetically modified crops, crossing wheat with Arctic cod to make it frost resistant, or lemons with bullet ants to give them extra zest.” They are the usual corporate bad guy looking for disguise in the purifying robes of “the Arts”.
The Chair of the jury, an MP on the downhill slope, accepts the job because of “backbench boredom”, and a need to get more public attention. The jurors include a celebrity columnist whose “ruling passion was ‘relevance’”. “The question I’ll be asking myself as I read a book is just how relevant is this to my readers.” Another juror is an academic, an unavoidable but undesirable type — but”…there was no harm in having one expert on the history of literature, if it reassured the public.” There is an ex-girlfriend of the Elysian director in charge of the awards. She writes. Badly. But her books are popular. These were some of the funniest parts of the book, written in a free indirect style of Penny Feathers. Excerpts of her writings show flat, plodding simple sentences notable only for the extraordinary density of cliches. I thought of my GR friends when Penny rewards her own hard work with a Paris weekend at the Ritz, ”… a favourite haunt of Marcel Proust’s. Although she sympathized with his choice of watering hole, Penny couldn’t help reflecting that he was exactly the kind of author who would not have made it onto this year’s Short List. She hadn’t actually read any Proust, but she knew perfectly well that he was a long-winded snob, with far too much private money and some very unconventional sexual tastes: just the sort of thing they had been trying to avoid.”

And just as the quality of the jury is questionable, so too is that of the books on the long list. This includes an accidentally submitted cookbook, which the columnist champions as a “ludic, postmodern, multi-media masterpiece.” Could this be the parallel to the Andrew Millers mix-up of the real Booker?
It all proceeds in a somewhat chaotic fashion, hopping from one viewpoint to the other, and like all good satire, revealing truths along the way. ”Personally I think that competition should be encouraged in war and sport and business, but that it makes no sense in the arts. If an artist is good, nobody else can do what he or she does and therefore all comparisons are incoherent. Only the mediocre, pushing forward a commonplace view of life in a commonplace language, can really be compared, but my wife thinks that “least mediocre of the mediocre” is a discouraging title for a prize.”

And who can resist the ultimate irony that this book turned out itself to win a major award, The Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, which encourages even more sniping — the book is too superficial, the satire too broad, the targets too easy. It is what it is, and for what it is, it is a funny and well-written commentary on the world of literary awards. Just have fun with it. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Lost for Words is a wild satiric romp through the machinations and chicanery of the British book prize world. A new chair has just been appointed head of the committee that awards the Elysian Prize.

A quick look at the members of the committee and the authors of some of the books submitted will suffice for a commentary:

the committee:

Malcolm Craig, chair, a political back-bencher in Parliament, with a penchant for Scottish novels. He accepted the position as a means to raise his public profile.
Jo Cross, a columnist and media personality who is looking for relevance in the list of nominees.
Vanessa Shaw, an Oxbridge academic who does value literary quality.
Penny Feathers, a retired foreign service employee, who writes detective novels with the help of a software program called Ghost.
Tobias Benedict, an actor, who because of his schedule can't attend the meetings, but favors an historical novel featuring William Shakespeare.

the authors
Sonny, an Indian pasha, who has written a tome titled The Mulberry Elephant.
Aunty, his aunt, whose cookbook, Palace is mistakenly substituted for the competition in place of the debut novel by
Katherine Burns, author of Consequences, a stunning young writer who counts among her many lovers --
Alan Oaks, her editor, and hapless agent of the mistaken submission
Didier Leroux, a French semiotician
Sam Black, who has written the short-listed Bildungsroman, The Frozen Torrent, to gain enough recognition so that his skeptical, pain-driven manuscript False Notes might be published.

It's not great literature, but over-the top, good fun with parodical excerpts from contemporary novels. Very entertaining. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Jan 4, 2016 |
I've found Edward St Aubyn's books profoundly moving and mordantly funny. Here, he shifts the balance towards grotesque parody. For me, the novel completely lost contact with believability, which then meant that I struggled to find it funny - the caricatures were relentlessly over the top, and the characters mostly lost touch with humanity. Some flashes there, but not enough
  otterley | Nov 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aubyn, Edward Stprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoekmeijer, NicoletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Voor Gillon
First words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Toen Sir David Hampshire, dat fossiel uit de Koude Oorlog, hem had benaderd met de vraag of hij juryvoorzitter wilde worden van de Elysian-prijs, had Malcolm Craig vierentwintig uur bedenktijd gevraagd.
Quotations
Last words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374280290, Hardcover)

Edward St. Aubyn is “great at dissecting an entire social world” (Michael Chabon, Los Angeles Times)


Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels were some of the most celebrated works of fiction of the past decade. Ecstatic praise came from a wide range of admirers, from literary superstars such as Zadie Smith, Francine Prose, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Michael Chabon to pop-culture icons such as Anthony Bourdain and January Jones. Now St. Aubyn returns with a hilariously smart send-up of a certain major British literary award.
     The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm. Things go terribly wrong when Katherine’s publisher accidentally submits a cookery book in place of her novel; one of the judges finds himself in the middle of a scandal; and Bunjee, aghast to learn his book isn’t on the short list, seeks revenge.
     Lost for Words is a witty, fabulously entertaining satire that cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:11 -0400)

"Edward St. Aubyn is "great at dissecting an entire social world" (Michael Chabon, Los Angeles Times) Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels were some of the most celebrated works of fiction of the past decade. Ecstatic praise came from a wide range of admirers, from literary superstars such as Zadie Smith, Francine Prose, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Michael Chabon to pop-culture icons such as Anthony Bourdain and January Jones. Now St. Aubyn returns with a hilariously smart send-up of a certain major British literary award. The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm. Things go terribly wrong when Katherine's publisher accidentally submits a cookery book in place of her novel; one of the judges finds himself in the middle of a scandal; and Bunjee, aghast to learn his book isn't on the short list, seeks revenge. Lost for Words is a witty, fabulously entertaining satire that cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda"--… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.51)
0.5
1
1.5
2 4
2.5 3
3 26
3.5 14
4 27
4.5 2
5 5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 125,356,346 books! | Top bar: Always visible