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The Guard Hardcover – January 6, 2015
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"The Guard is a novel that leaves you astonished with its beauty and completeness."―NRC Handelsblad
"The Guard is a sublime book... a brilliantly told story."―Karin Overmars, Het Parool
"The Guard is so good, its world so minutely described and Michel so undeniably compelling that to suggest anything other than to pick this up and read it immediately would be to do it a disservice."―SciFi Now
"A mix of psychological thriller and SF fable, this strange, wonderfully claustrophobic novel."―John O'Connell, The Guardian
"A rich and gripping mix of all the ingredients that make for a truly haunting atmosphere."―Valeria Melchioretto, Writers' Hub
â??There's a cold and beautiful precision to Peter Terrin's writing, and a remorselessness and finally terrifying accretion of detail that begins by seeming fussy and ends by being unsettling."―SFX
"Terrin tells a strongly allegorical story of 21st-century society, which holds the reader under its spell... The Guard is not only an enthralling psychological novel, it is also a love story, one which encompasses oppressiveness, emotion and explicit sensuality."―from the European Union Literature Prize citation
"Terrin wastes no time sucking the audience into the narrative... you simply won't want to put the book down until you find out exactly what's going on."―Joe Royce, Starburst Magazine
"Terrin's wonderfully sinister, darkly funny novel owes more to this genre than to simple SF. Guards Harry and narrator Michel keep watch in a tower block basement as the 'New War' empties the city. Many twists ensue. Finely translated (from Dutch) by David Colmer, the deadpan, exact, discomfiting prose keeps an icy grip."―Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
"This is a tremendous novel, often horrifically funny and always unsettling. Most emphatically, though, it is a European novel, articulating the cultural situation of a Flanders-born writer looking to Dutch literature while retaining a powerful awareness of Belgium's surrealist traditions."―Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
"Webs of Pinteresque paranoia... Effectively horrid."―David Langford, The Sunday Telegraph
"Terrin has enriched Flemish literature with a clever novel about modern, yet simultaneously universal, paranoia that ends in a perfect psychological pas de deux."―De Morgen
"Science fiction meets Samuel Beckett in this Godot-like tale . . . a disarming allegory for the conflict-ridden, anxiety-producing times we live in."
"Chillingly claustrophobic and ominous . . . what develops into the existential love story between Michel and Harry, the postmodern grandkids of Vladimir and Estragon (if not Stan and Ollie), gains a genuine poignancy."―Locus
About the Author
Flemish novellist Peter Terrin has been described as "a master of ominous detail" and is considered by critics to be a literary maverick, a classic writer who doesn't follow trends, and a masterful stylist. He has also written for the theatre and is active as a columnist. Terrin was the recipient of the European Union Literature prize and has been nominated for major literary awards several times, including the AKO Literature, Libris Literature, and the West Flanders Prizes for Literature.
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Top customer reviews
Up against all that are two serious problems for me. First is the choppiness of it. The book is about 120 chapters and 240 pages. I realize that's part of the feel, but as somebody who really enjoys the rhythm of prose, there isn't much rhythm to enjoy. I found it almost nerve-wracking to read for more than about 5 minutes at a time. Second, and I won't say this in much detail in order to avoid a spoiler, but I guessed the big reveal about 40 pages into it--and I'm usually not very good at that.
All that's to say, I'm glad I read it. It's very well done for what it is. But I can't say I "liked" it or that I'll be lining up to read more of his books.
I received a copy from the publisher so that I could write a review, and was rivited by the work. I haven't heard about this author before but the concept was interesting. While I expected a dystopian style read, what I found was much more nuanced and stylistic than the usual novels in this genre.
The guard who takes the lead in the narrative is not the leader inside the two-person squad. That choice from the author opened up this story to telling a subtle yet powerful story about confinement, control, voluntary subjugation, and the dynamics of human relationships in personal and organizational terms. The same elements can be read on an extended level that touches on elements we're experiencing in different developed cultures today.
All these elements unfold in tiny ways that are no less powerful for the gradual movements involved. Some readers have responded to this work with confusion, claiming that they either didn't understand the work or that later events were not supported throughout. I disagree. This novel reveals itself to readers who pay attention. For those who want more from a dystopian story than the usual justice-is-served or all-are-doomed endings, The Guard is the one to read.
Looking for another dark, gripping read? Check out Beloved: A Sensual Noir ThrillerIt will grab you and never let go!
Sad to say I didn't enjoy the book. It started well- an interesting exercise in minimalist story telling. At times it it reminded me of Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' and J G Ballard's 'Highrise' but I never felt it went anywhere. The beginning had me gripped with it's attention to small detail and the way small matters of routine became inflated in importance with repetition. But I can't say I really understood the last 1/3. I would love someone to explain it to me- was he dead? Was he alone the whole time? What was real? What was imaginary? Shades of Golding's 'Pincher Martin' again- so many of these types of enigmatic storylines remind me of that book that I was made to read at school.
I'm totally non-plussed by it winning some European lit award...
It reinforces my wariness of any book that is described as "a modern day fable..."
The Guard is atmospheric, for the most part well-plotted, and written well. The story is presented as a series of vignettes in very short chapters, and the organisation of these and the transitions between them are done with skill. And that the author fails to give answers to the questions a reader will have is for me quite satisfying; one never learns why the guards are treated as they are by their employer, what has happened in the outside world (Terrin might offer a clue on occasion, though I'm not even sure of that), and what will happen after the book's end.
The Guard is divided into three sections. The first section is all but spellbinding and the third one is. The second, which is perhaps one-fifth of the book, feels much longer than that and falls flat. In it a new element is introduced into the story and we learn more about Harry. This part of the book is predictable--anyone who's seen a few Hollywood films knows the outcome--and repetitious: the change in Harry is hammered home in several similar passages. Despite the drama it contains, Part 2 simply isn't very interesting, and I wasn't altogether certain as I read it that I'd bother to finish the book. It isn't that the story suddenly becomes a bad one but it is for a while a rather boring one. Perhaps it's because all that occurs in that section is more clear-cut, nearly heavy-handedly so, and that the atmosphere and mystery are because of that dissipated.
I shall almost certainly re-read this and if I do I hope that I'll then find Part 2 not to be the sticking-point it was first time 'round.
3 1/2 stars