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The Spoiler Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307957349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307957344
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“McAfee skewers the Fourth Estate with an insider’s insight, cutting wit and razor-sharp writing.”
—Alison McCulloch, The New York Times Book Review

“Sparkles with tabloid bravura . . . a dark hyper-comedy.”
Examiner.com

“Spirited . . . [McAfee] writes with poise and polish, using her reportorial eye to create a fictional world that feels like a fun-house mirror of journalism from the late ‘90s . . . [that] could not be more timely. . . . McAfee manages to fuse satire and observation together in a potent brew. In doing so, she creates a blackly comic, Waugh-esque portrait of a newspaper . . . peopled with hacks, has-beens, poseurs and some genuine reporters, rabidly ambitious youngsters and weary old-timers, pretentious literary types and gutter-minded twits.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“McAfee . . . highlights the slide of media reporting from serious to scandalous as she crafts a story that catches journalism on the cusp of the electronic age.”
Library Journal

“McAfee’s assured grasp of the journalistic milieu . . . skillfully pillories the journalists’ anxieties about the coming ‘digital dystopia.’”
The New Yorker
 
“Enjoyable to read . . . a larkish spirit of farce [and] wicked fun . . . dances the story along.”
Shelf Awareness
 
“An acid satire of London newspaperdom . . . spiky, vivid, and almost pathologically clever.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A sharp, intelligent novel about ‘old’ journalism, ‘new’ journalism and the moral gap between the two . . . McAfee writes with sparkling intelligence and raises serious issues about the relationship between reporting and truth.”
—Kirkus (starred review)

“A dark, sparkly gem of a book: smart, knowing, funny, tragic: Miss Havisham meets Sex and the City.  I don’t know how Annalena McAfee pulled off such a balancing act, but I very much hope she goes on writing novels of this quality. A stunner.”
—Christopher Buckley

“A witty and entertaining debut about two very different worlds of journalism.”
 —Alex Clark, The Guardian

About the Author

ANNALENA MCAFEE was born in London and was educated at Essex University. McAfee has edited a collection of literary profiles, Lives and Works, and is the author of eight children's books. She has been a judge of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the South Bank Show Awards, and the Ben Pimlott Prize for political writing. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Ian McEwan.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Audiobook lover on June 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book based on the favorable review in the NYT Sunday book section. I highly recommend it for several reasons. It is a fascinating look into journalism and the personalities of the two protagonists as well as an engaging story with several unexpected plot twists. But most interesting of all, it had me turning to the Kindle dictionary frequently, something that rarely happens. All in all, a great read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By algo41 on June 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am not a big fan of novels whose raison d'etre is humor, unless the characters are quirky and engaging; that is not the case for "The Spoiler". Still, the reader cannot help admiring Tamara's persistence, and Honor rings true as a prideful woman dealing with old age and the loss of beauty. The interplay between Tamara and Honor with its crisp dialogue, occasional slap stick, and tension is very fine. McAfee enjoys playing with words, and so the many beginnings Tamara writes to her article, as events and mood shift, are amusing. I thought the ending gave real substance to the novel (spoiler alert), in showing the parallels between Tamara and Honor, both victims of egoists to whom they have strong bonds.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Abigail Padgett on July 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Packed with wry wit in nearly every sentence, THE SPOILER is in actuality a stealth Aristotelian tragedy. Except the "flawed character" lies not in the protagonist(s), but in a populist voyeurism that devours celebrity scandals like popcorn while remaining unable to find Pakistan on a map. The novel freeze-frames that tottering moment of critical mass in the late 1990's, just before "news," along with the Western social contract, changed overnight.

It is a tale of two journalists - 79-year-old Honor Tait, in her time a brilliant war correspondent famous both for her reports from now-iconic fronts and for her dazzling beauty, three husbands and countless affairs, and Tamara Sim, a ditzy young freelancer of seemingly deranged educational background who ekes out a living writing tabloid fill like, "The Pits: Underarm Hair Horror of the Stars!"

In a basement cubicle, Tamara pens shock-jock for Psst!, the Saturday sleaze column of The Monitor, a fictional London newspaper whose denizens and business practices are described with a droll, satiric edge. (If Virginia Woolf were to come back as a humorist, she would write this book.) In contrast, the savaged-by-time Honor struggles alone in a cluttered apartment to confront personal secrets shared with no one now alive. Through an email programming glitch, Tamara is given the plum assignment - a single, coveted interview with the arrogant, reclusive "doyenne of British journalism." What ensues is a contemporary comedy of errors through which the reader laughs appreciatively on every page while remaining sensible of an underlying sadness. Something is vanishing. It will not be seen again.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1997 London, octogenarian Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Honor Tait reported from frontlines of all the major wars since the 1930s. She is the legend though she loathes fame as that interferes with covering a story. Her time as "The Newsroom Dietrich" is long gone and she forgotten with the new multimedia journalism replacing her foxhole reporting; Honor knows her time has passed although her renowned war dispatches are being collected for publication.

The Monitor's S*nday magazine sends twentyish reporter Tamara Sim to interview Honor as the beginning of a gossip article on the scandalous behavior of Tait. Known for the top ten lists, Sim plans to find ten incidents of dirt focusing on her three mirages and alleged affairs. Thus the modern day media savvy journalist and the old school foxhole warrior begin a battle of wits in which confirmed "truths" are irrelevant wastes of time as bottom line sensational headlines is all that matters.

The Spoiler is a fascinating look at the changing of the guard in journalism. Whereas the war correspondents faced danger and witnessed the brutal impact of war first hand, the new breed with technology at hand are vetted with units so they reporting from a safe distances. The two protagonists are an intriguing pair who plays a cat and mouse game in regards to the personal life of Tait. The internet and amateur reporting are almost ignored (for instance, Rodney King's police brutality case was in 1991) and the ethics will be seen by readers early-on. Still fans will enjoy this look at the beginning of the end of journalism as we know it (Ernie Pyle would not have made it).

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jake on November 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like a lot of things about this book. The cat and mouse game between the young, shallow but tenacious journalist and the old legendary journalism veteran, is delicious. And I really didn't know how it would end, but the conclusion worked for me. As a journalist, I found the book all too true in many ways, I'm glad I found this one.
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By Steven Kendall on August 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
I never made it past page 65. The first scene ran 40 pages and the second one was at least 25 (still going on when I quit), and neither had any action or interesting plot points. Neither moved the story much at all. But worst of all, the writing was pretentious; the author seemed to feel six-syllable words were always better than clear, two-syllable words. And the droning on and on about one of the two main character's psyche and background was ponderous; the first 40 pages could have been handled in ten.

Maybe it got better, but according to my book group, not by much.
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