London and the South-east

London and the South-east

A Novel

Book - 2017
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"Paul Rainey, the hapless antihero at the center of this "compulsively readable" (Independent on Sunday) story works, miserably, in ad sales. He sells space in magazines that hardly exist, and through a fog of booze and drugs dimly perceives that he is dissatisfied with his life--professionally, sexually, recreationally, the whole nine yards. If only there were something he could do about it--and "something" seems to fall into his lap when a meeting with an old friend and fellow salesman, Eddy Jaw, leads to the offer of a new job. But when that offer turns out to be as misleading as Paul's own sales patter, his life is transformed in ways very much more peculiar than he ever thought possible. London and the South-East, which won the Betty Trask Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, is both a gloriously told shaggy-dog story about the compromising inanities of office life and consumer culture, and the perfect introduction to one of the best writers at work today."--Amazon.com.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota :, Graywolf Press,, [2017]
Description: 340 pages ; 21 cm
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9781555977931
Branch Call Number: Szal

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gogo12127
Dec 11, 2017

Paul Rainey, the hapless antihero of London and the South-East, works, miserably, in ad sales. He sells space in magazines that hardly exist, and through a fog of booze and drugs dimly perceives that he is dissatisfied with his life – work, sex, weekends, the whole nine yards. If only there were something he could do about it – and “something” seems to fall into his lap when a meeting with an old friend and fellow salesman, Eddy Jaw, leads to the offer of a new job. When that offer turns out to be misleading as Paul's own sales patter, however, his life is transformed in ways more peculiar than he ever thought possible.
(Description from the publisher – slightly edited.)

When I started reading London and South-East, I thought immediately about the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, and in fact Glengarry Glen Ross is briefly mentioned early in the book.
What I really thought, though, as I got into the book was Mad Men: the booze, the cigarettes, and the sexism that permeated Mad Men permeates London and the South-East.

I wanted to give this book a five-star rating, because it is so well written; however London and the South-East is so relentlessly depressing and the characters are so totally unlikable that it was difficult to enjoy. Paul Rainey, the main character, is the most unlikable of all. He is Don Draper without a scintilla of his charisma. Bottom line is that I cannot give this a five-star rating no matter how good the writing is. I enjoy reading whether it's light reading or “important literary works.” It's hard to enjoy reading a book with characters so unlikable and a story so depressing, so I'm reduced to giving it a three-star rating.

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