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The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe

The Rotters' Club (2001)

by Jonathan Coe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Rotters' Club (1)

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1,738316,219 (3.84)36

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English (26)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
While I appreciated the details (especially the musical ones), the place-holding characters were often malnourished. This novel seriously suffers in comparison to Black Swan Green. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The group enjoyed this book - not as much as Salmon Fishing or Shadow, but enjoyed it nonetheless. The language was very easy to read, and it was surprisingly compelling to follow the lives of characters that are fairly ordinary people. The characters were well crafted and engaging and that is what made the novel so entertaining. The author writes dialogue extremely well and there were moments that were truly hilarious. The fact that the novel was set in the 80s made it very interesting because the events, culture and products/items/technology of that decade are woven throughout the fabric of the novel such that reading the novel was like looking back in time as well as reading a work of fiction. The start of the section The Very Maws of Doom made group members feel that the book was now shifting to 1st person so it was interesting to see that this was an unpublished story by Ben Trotter. Changes like this made the book interesting if not disorienting.There were some epistolary elements to the book, which made for an interesting read. The group did struggle with the ending though: the section called Green Coaster. This 'stream of consciousness' chapter was an interesting literary choice by the author but the group felt it went on too long and was hard to get through, and as such it didn't work.
  PossumOfWar | Oct 27, 2017 |
senza perdersi in inutili parole... dico solo che è imperdibile. molto bello. da leggere poi subito (o quasi) il seguito: Il circolo chiuso ( )
  SirJo | Sep 4, 2017 |
A charming and very funny look at a group of young people growing up in Birmingham in the 1970s, attending a provincial grammar school that takes itself a little bit too seriously, and discovering that instead of the gloriously psychedelic world of prog rock, idealistic socialism and dadaist poetry they've been led to expect, life is going to confront them with Enoch Powell, Grunwick, IRA bombs, the Sex Pistols and Margaret Thatcher.

Coe takes us through all the usual elements of the "coming-of-age" novel with his tongue firmly in his cheek, and has fun mocking his narrator's literary and musical aspirations. We get blow-by-blow descriptions of some truly awful experimental music (but no worse than the real thing) and some mock-literary experimentation, including a sentence several times longer than the final chapter of Ulysses (the only interesting thing the writers of the Wikipedia article seem to have noticed about this book!).

Since I happen to be about the same age as Coe's characters and went to a rather similar school, this pressed a lot of nostalgia-buttons for me, and it's undoubtedly a well-written, entertaining book that captures the peculiar feeling of those times very well. Not as striking and original as The Buddha of suburbia, perhaps, and possibly not of all that much interest if you aren't already familiar with the late seventies in the UK. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jul 27, 2017 |
Didn't really know what to expect with this novel, referenced in Travis Eldborough's The Long Player Goodbye, a history of the vinyl album. I was thinking maybe a sort of literary The Inbetweeners about a gang of school boys in 1970s Birmingham, but the characters and storyline actually developed into a sort of David Mitchell-esque commentary on the era, which I enjoyed equally. A few literal laugh out loud moments, but also some poignant scenes from history, including union strikes and the 1975 IRA pub bombings.

I never really established individual personalities for most of the central characters, I must confess. The title - an album by Hatfield and North - refers to the nickname of the Trotter siblings, Benjamin, Paul and poor Lois, but Benjamin's friends sort of merged into one for me.And the final chapter, written either stream of consciousness or just plain without paragraphs, was also a bit of a let down, and by then I had given up caring about the Trotters too. But the 1970s stood out in true brown, mushroom and avocado glory - although I was born in 1980, so I don't actually have any personal reference! Coe doesn't sugarcoat the era in a comic platforms and David Bowie parody - 'People forget about the 1970s. They think it was all about wide collars and glam rock, and they get nostalgic about Fawlty Towers and kids' TV programmes, and they forget the ungodly strangeness of it, the weird things that were happening all the time'. All the isms are present and correct, and the characters are generally miserable, with three day weeks at home and strikes at work. Good music though, until punk rears its boring head: 'Any old rubbish could get an audience these days, Philip thought, as long as it was riding on the punk bandwagon'.

I suppose if you actual were there, the constant political references might seem a tad heavy-handed, but I enjoyed learning about the era through instructional asides, and never felt like I was reading the script of a sitcom set in the 70s - just wish I could have cared more about the characters, or even told them apart. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Aug 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coe, JonathanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frame, PeteIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a clear, blueblack, starry night, in the city of Berlin, in the year of 2003, two young people sat down to dinner.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
I [=Benjamin] think about this story, sometimes. It's one of the things I try to make sense of. I thought of it as we drove away from Skagen to return our hire car to the airport at Alborg the next morning. I thought of it today as I walked home from the bus stop to my parents' house. But slowly, irresistibly, I can feel it beginning to dissolve into the hazy falsehood of memory. That is why I have written it down, although in doing so I know that all I have achieved is to falsify it differently, more artfully. (Penguin Books 2002 p. 128)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014029466X, Paperback)

Jonathan Coe's new novel is set in the 1970s against a distant backdrop of strikes, terrorist attacks and growing racial tension. A group of young friends inherit the editorship of their school magazine and begin to put their own distinctive spin on to events in the wider world. A zestful comedy of personal and social upheaval, The Rotters' Club captures a fateful moment in British politics - the collapse of 'Old Labour' - and imagines its impact on the topsy-turvy world of the bemused teenager: a world in which a lost pair of swimming trunks can be just as devastating as an IRA bomb.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:14 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Trotter, Harding, Anderton and Chase are a quartet of young friends at a Birmingham school, and the narrative of the Rotters' club is about to take them on an unforgettable ride through the surreal landscape of the 1970s.

» see all 3 descriptions

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Average: (3.84)
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