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The Pianoplayers Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0685191788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0685191781
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,351,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Anthony Burgess wrote this light novel about the same time he was doing the first volume of his autobiographical "Confessions" entitled Little Wilson and Big God. If you don't know the autobiography, maybe you can take The Pianoplayers as straight fiction. But I had read Little Wilson and Big God, not once but twice, by the time I picked up this novel in a outdoor bin in Sydney. And I was hopelessly aware that much of what I was reading was pure autobiography, loosely repackaged with scarcely a fictive figleaf to disguise it. In this case the figleaf is a change of sex. The narrator is Ellen Henshaw, an elderly woman born in the same place and year as Burgess. Henshaw's father, a dreamy, easygoing musician who plays piano accompaniment in fleapit movie theaters, is merely Burgess's dad pulled down a rung or two on the social scale. The first two-thirds of the book follows Ellen and her father on their picaresque social and sexual adventures, through bedsitters, cinemas, pubs and music halls in Manchester and Blackpool. Finally old Mr Henshaw collapses and dies after three weeks of a marathon performance at the piano keyboard. This brings the quasi-autobiographical section to an end. Ellen now goes back to school--first to a convent, then to a school for whores on the Continent. She tells us sketchily that she amasses a pile of money, returns to England, then gets back on The Game as an enterprising madam with a international string of brothels. Somehow a son appears in the story and has farcical adventures of his own, mostly involving an obese mother-in-law who dies on holiday in Italy and gets strapped like a piece of luggage to the roof of a Fiat.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Randall Ivey on June 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
For Burgess, one of late 20th century's certifiable master fiction writers, a piece like The Pianoplayers is a bit of a diversion. It is light, it is funny, it comes with the most basic kind of message (people need love, sex, and affection if they are to remain happy and sane). A lesser writer would be thrilled to have produced this charming comic work, a summation of Burgess's life, times, and preoccupations.

Ellen Henshaw is the daughter of a pianoplayer (not a "pianist," she would insist, which is something entirely different), an accompaniest to movies in the old days of the silent screen. The first portion of the book details her father's attempts to stay financially afloat through various plots and schemes, leading to his demise at the keyboard. The second half shows Ellen blooming into a world famous expert on the power of love (prostitute is too prosaic a term for what she is).

Burgess relates the story in female first person, and the voice is pretty much free of any obvious false notes. Much has been made of Burgess's comparisions to Joyce, and here he does employ a slight variation of the stream of consciousness technique, but it never impedes the flow of the story.

This is a dandy concoction.
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Format: Paperback
Well this is a tale about the life of Ellen Henshaw, she grows up in modest conditions with her father making his living as a pianoplayer for the silent movies in the 1920's. Already when Ellen is a minor she earns her first money as a prostitute. Later she will make a living by being a prostitute and eventually she turns a madam. Her life is in no way sad, actually it seems quite ordinary and commonplace. Somewhat it seems like the point of the story is, that following the line of her father (the pianoplayer), eventually Ellens grandson becomes a pianist. From there the title: "The Pianoplayers" - The talent of her father as a pianoplayer finally reemerges in her grandson. The story seems somewhat like a film, I don't know if Anthony Burgess was thinking of movies when he wrote it? The best thing about the book is that the fact that Ellen starts as a prostitute as a minor is in no way a sad or terrible thing, contrary it's just quite normal and ordinary. It's nice that the author don't make a fuss about something which there is maybe no reason to make a fuss about.
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More About the Author

Anthony Burgess (25th February 1917-22nd November 1993) was one of the UK's leading academics and most respected literary figures. A prolific author, during his writing career Burgess found success as a novelist, critic, composer, playwright, screenwriter, travel writer, essayist, poet and librettist, as well as working as a translator, broadcaster, linguist and educationalist. His fiction also includes NOTHING LIKE THE SUN, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life, but he is perhaps most famous for the complex and controversial novel A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, exploring the nature of evil. Born in Manchester, he spent time living in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England, until his death in 1993.

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