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Lost for Words: A Novel Hardcover – May 20, 2014
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“Everything St. Aubyn writes is worth reading for the cleansing rancor of his intelligence and the fierce elegance of his prose…” ―Anne Enright, New York Times Book Review
“Lost for Words is especially witty... a hilarious commentary on the dissonance between the daily lives of authors and how they are perceived publicly.” ―Maddie Crum, Huffington Post
“Lost for Words is... a satirical romp that showcases... [St. Aubyn's] Waugh-like talent for comedy and his unsparing eye for people's pretensions and self-delusions.” ―Mikicho Kakutani, The New York Times
“Lost for Words... is an entertaining squib... [with] perfectly aimed satirical barbs.” ―John Banville, The New York Review of Books
“St. Aubyn… executes his irony with phlegmatic and tightly controlled prose, underneath which lurks the trenchant exasperation of a veteran.” ―Esther Yi, Los Angeles Review of Books
“[D]eeply eloquent writing… St. Aubyn's mastery of language--and the resonance it can hew--can't help but come through.” ―Brian Gallagher, The Seattle Times
“Lost for Words is a withering satire... a deliciously irreverent novel.” ―Jonathan Yardley
“St. Aubyn's is a subtle, dry, and often dark type of humor... [he] once again skewers privilege in a humorous way.” ―Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
“Lost for Words [is a] savage field report. ...The best and meanest parts of the book are its pitch-perfect parodies of fashionable genres...” ―Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe
“[Lost for Words] contains some of the best writing we're likely to read this year.” ―Hannah Beckerman, Huffington Post
“A light-footed romp and a notable taboo-buster… a frisky satire on modern literary manners and the funniest thing St. Aubyn has ever written.” ―Sunday Telegraph
“St Aubyn's powers of observation are as sharp as ever.” ―Henry Hitchings, Financial Times
“Lost for Words is a fizzing satire that neatly skewers all the contradictions of literary prize-giving… Lost for Words is very funny, but it also makes some serious points about what is good writing, who is best qualified to make judgments about it… [The Melrose novels] are the most extraordinary transmutation of personal horror into great art.” ―Telegraph magazine
“[St. Aubyn is] an adept observer of the elite with a devastating talent for dialogue…” ―Chicago Tribune
“A tangy jeu d'esprit… [St. Aubyn] is such a bitchy, brilliant prose writer that any impression this book is a mere scathing divertissement is amply compensated for by nearly every sentence.” ―Metro
“St. Aubyn has a cut-glass prose style, a gift for unexpected metaphor, and a skewering eye… [He] is a conjurer, able to take that greasy deck of cards and make it perform tricks of a sort rarely seen anymore.” ―The Atlantic
“… St. Aubyn offers a hearty satire, full of laughs and groans.” ―Mark Levine, Booklist
“Lost for Words is a... jaunty, often hilarious farce… very, very funny.” ―Alexander Benaim, Bookforum
“Edward St. Aubyn is among the handful of the current giants of English fiction. He has always had an eye for the sort of satire that does not exclude compassion and understanding; now that eye is trained on the absurd world of awarding literary prizes. The results are hilarious!” ―Edmund White
“A laugh-out-loud sendup of literary prizes . . . Both the author and the reader have great fun.” ―Kirkus
Top Customer Reviews
From the ill-chosen Elysian judges and the chair who reads nary a word of the books through to sundry sex-mad authors, pompous editors and vindictive Indian nabobs, the cast of self-serving characters entertain and delight as we are treated to a merciless send-up of the literary fiction scene, embellished with virtuoso verbal ventriloquism in the form of extracts from the writers' appalling prose.
What's that? A soft target, you say?
Well yes. But St Aubyn's slender satire is so scathingly clever, so horribly convincing and so downright funny that I have to say I loved every minute of it. How cool would the Booker panel show themselves to be if they put Lost For Words on their shortlist!
LOST FOR WORDS is a satirical look at a famous literary prize awarded to citizens of the Commonwealth. Don’t let the satire fool you; St. Aubyn’s commentary is biting on every note. Formerly shortlisted himself for the Man Booker Prize (and already winning the Wodehouse prize for this book), St. Aubyn’s oft-times comical writing provides an incredible insight into this prestiged entry. In this, you may see the humor of a cookbook being submitted to the prize committee by accident, until it becomes an actual contender for the shortlist. Love affairs with editors or committee members? A quick look on the Man Booker’s Wikipedia page may suggest that this isn’t all comedy or even fiction.
Before reading this book, you’ll want to take note of the helpful summary provided by the publisher, outlining the three main featured character novelists. My favorite: Sonny, in his imagination of seeing himself paraded through the press as the main contender. Five other characters have predominance as the committee members and chair.
As the reader, you’ll be treated to some segments of these fictitious book entries. I love this part. They sound spot-on in their appeal. Take for example, a book from the point of view of William Shakespeare that’s a “richly textured portrait of Jacobean London” and is an “ambitious and original novel”. Sound like some description you’ve read before?Read more ›
Back to this book. A committee has been chosen to choose the Elysian Prize for a fiction book. The committe is stocked with political choices, well known literary judges, a very nice actor, and a random but earnest young woman. The satire begins almost immediately as these people peruse the pool of 200 novels and choose the long list by social pressure, an eye for "true writing", new devices, or favored friends. Most of the two hundred books languish unread, while others get a rousing first, last and random middle look.
This book is sly and addictive. Almost without exception, the samples from the short list are truly awful and represent the more stomach turning aspects of "new trends". The judges are mirrored through their writings, as are the authors. The whole thing conspires to bring a sad laugh from any lover of books in general. Depressing as the enterprise should be, it gave me an enjoyable few hours of cynical reading.
Though it’s written as satire, reader should not be fooled by that fact – as someone who was back in 2006 Man Booker Prize shortlisted for his work ‘Mother's Milk’ it seems that with his work St. Aubyn provides a humorous though not far from truth insight what is might happening behind-the-scenes of jury selection process.
In his novel Edward St. Aubyn brings the absurd that by mistake a cookbook becomes nominated for the prestigious award, and instead of disqualification by jury because work does not meet the requirements, it even becomes the favorite to win the award.
The book will especially appeal to fans of English humor, therefore do not expect while reading to lie on the floor laughing as is often the case with American humorous pieces, because in this case it is "serious" humor that makes smile staying on your lips even after the humorous part is behind.
Therefore, although I cannot say that I was equally impressed by this novel as with some of author’s earlier works, I can recommend ‘Lost for Words’ because it offers a good look into what today's literary scene turned to, and in particular what kind of circus the literary awards became which unfortunately are no longer a measure of quality, but of some other values which don’t have much in common with literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was quite different from my usual audiobook fare and yet a very pleasant surprise. Absolutely terrific, rollicking satire of the literary world as a bunch of terrifically... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mia
Brilliant and amusing satire.I was glad with the dictionary on my Kindle, since St Aubyn quite often uses words that are not in my daily vocabulary.Published 4 months ago by Dr M.S.A. Vrijland
Clever. Very well written. Much insider satire that a reader can enjoy even if she isn't an insider.Published 5 months ago by DC Lady
A wonderful parody on the Booker short listers and the judges. That St Aubyn is an also - ran for the short listers has given him such a cynically witty but honest insight into... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jill Nicholas
Edward St. Aubyn's send-up of literary contests is wickedly funny and probably dead-on. Examining the politics behind the scenes among the judges of the Elysian Prize for the best... Read morePublished 11 months ago by David H. (Austin)
The language in this book is amazing! It is so well written and very engaging.Published 11 months ago by Judith vK
The premise is amusing and the plot unfolds well, but the dry humour lost impact because it seemed somewhat heavy and contrived, rather like a standup comic firing off a line then... Read morePublished 11 months ago by lg