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Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes

Absolute Beginners (original 1959; edition 1984)

by Colin MacInnes

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Title:Absolute Beginners
Authors:Colin MacInnes
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Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes (1959)


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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I am sorry I didn't like this book at all I finished it though.
The main character who takes photos (you dont know his name) is so un appealing, the way the book is written bore me aswell.
I wanted to enjoy this book as its about a long lost London.
The only good bit was the way this book described the Racial tension of the late 1950s ( )
  Daftboy1 | Oct 1, 2014 |
I re-read this book after many years as a result of reading The Year of Reading Dangerously and was delighted to find it was still great. It's so immediate and exciting and seedy, but also captures teenage naivety and idealism in a really lovely way. It also covers race issues and the 50s riots, and has a few fantastic passages on tolerance, racism and colonialism which probably really helped shape my views as a teenager. Sure sometimes it feels dated both in terms of language and ways of thinking, but it has it's heart in the right place and is well worth reading. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jul 29, 2014 |
published-1959, london, lifestyles-deathstyles, britain-england, winter-20132014, racism, radio-4, fradio, cults-societies-brotherhoods, music, recreational-drugs, art-forms, prostitution, gangsters, glbt, under-500-ratings, young-adult, casual-violence, period-piece, bullies
Read from January 12 to 19, 2014


Colin MacInnes's cult classic about teenagers, style and racial tension in 1950s London.

Description: London, 1958. "I swore by Elvis and all the saints that this last teenage year of mine was going to be a real rave." The eighteen-year-old narrator of Colin MacInnes' cult classic is determined to declare his independence from earlier generations, as he roams the city with his camera and a sharp eye for the stylish and the subversive. In the smoky jazz clubs of Soho, the coffee bars of Notting Hill and the cheap rooms of Pimlico the young and the restless - the absolute beginners - are revolutionising youth culture and forging a new carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Meanwhile the Teddy Boy gangs are staging internecine battles, and a generation of Black immigrants is struggling to make a life in a hostile city. The definitive account of London life in the 1950s and what it means to be a teenager, this account of a young man's coming of age captures the spirit of a generation and the changing face of London in the era of the first race riots and the lead up to the swinging Sixties.

Read by Joel MacCormack Abridged and produced by Sara Davies.

Theme tune: Laurie London - He's Got The Whole World In His Hands - 1958

1. Last year as a teenage for our protagonist, and in Notting Hill too.

2. Mr Cool reports trouble brewing on the streets, the Fabulous Hoplite brings news of a party at Dido Lament's, and Suzette won't be persuaded out of her impending marriage.

3. The teenage narrator of Colin MacInnes's cult classic sets about making some serious money in an attempt to win back the love of his life, and there's a worrying visit from Mr Cool.

4. The teenage narrator is still shocked by Suzette's marriage to Henley. Determined to try and woo her back, he takes the opportunity of a boat trip up the Thames to pay her a visit.

5. The teenage narrator finds himself caught up along with his friends in the violence that erupts on the streets of his home patch in Notting Hill.

Unsuprisingly, because of the parentage, MacInnes is at home with his subject matter and the writing is accomplished. ( )
  mimal | Jan 19, 2014 |
Read it a long time ago , but only remember bits of the film. Brought home from parents to reread sometime.
-shelved indefinitely 27 april 2011
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Earlier this year at the London Picture Gallery I saw a photography exhibition of the photographer Ida Kar who took pictures of bohemian London during the 1950s. Amongst all the black and white images was a photograph of a tall lean man lying on a bed in a spartan flat in Soho. Another image was of an attractive young couple, sitting on the floor, reading the papers with an toddler jumping all over them. The captions said that the first was the author of this book, Colin MacInnes. The couple in the second picture apparently inspired two characters in this book. Thinking that it would be fun to read the book with the two images in my head, I got hold of a copy through the library.

I got a lot more that I anticipated. A very clever book. The author manages to take us on a journey through London of the 1950s moving from one scene to another and giving us a humorous commentary on society and (low) life in London as he saw it.

Just the fond descriptions of London alone, made reading this book worthwhile for me. ( )
1 vote pengvini | Mar 30, 2013 |
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It was with the advent of the Laurie London era that I realised the whole teenage epic was tottering to doom.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140021426, Paperback)

Penguin film edition paperback, vg+

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:56 -0400)

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