From Publishers Weekly
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“A Spot of Bother is a crisp, light, effortless read, a sympathetic and sometimes very funny social comedy that, for the most part, perfectly skewers its hapless protagonists and their hopeless pretensions. . . . Like Nick Hornby, too, [Haddon] can bring to everyday life a pleasing solidity and veracity, and he can also place a character with a single, deft phrase.” —Sunday Times (UK)
“Kind in spirit and empathetic to its characters’ assorted plights.” —The New York Times
“Haddon elevates the novel with keen intuition into human behaviour, subtly instructing his readers to appreciate their lives, no matter how superficially boring they may seem.” — Calgary Herald
“Haddon provides plenty of neat turns of phrase and sharp observations.” —National Post
“A Spot of Bother meets and exceeds expectations. . . . It’s an unfair comparison, but it may help to suggest it’s a little like a British version of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, only one that feels much more like a dark sitcom. It’s a fresh, breezy, inviting look at family dysfunction.” — The Vancouver Sun
“Haddon’s fans can attest that this ability to see things from other people’s points of view is precisely his strength. . . . Once again, Haddon demonstrates his ability to crawl into his characters’ skins.” — The Gazette (Montreal)
“A very funny book. . . .The build-up to the climax is expertly done, and that climax is a near-masterwork of slapstick comedy. . . . He also does a great job of detailing the flotsam of ordinary lives without descending into arch, literary anthropology. Not a single character is held at a distance.” — Toronto Star
“Haddon has a gift for conveying the illogical responses people have when things don’t go according to plan.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“[A] delightfully touching tour de farce. . . . Haddon finds magic in the details and, as with Dog, makes the routine minutiae of day-to-day life appealing and often hilarious. . . . The observations are so astute, so gently funny, so touching, that you get caught up in the fate of the well-meaning, if slightly imprudent, Hall family.” — USA Today
“Haddon writes about the grisly minutiae of family life with the beady observation and ear for domestic surrealism of a younger Alan Bennett . . . he has a fascinated affection for the strangeness of suburban life, which he records with a humanity that eschews caricature and allows every character a measure of dignity amid the profoundest indignity. . . . A Spot of Bother is a painful, funny, humane novel; beautifully written, addictively readable and so confident.” — The Times
“The novel succeeds brilliantly . . . in its uncommon, unpretentious willingness to capture the intricacies of communication between children, parents and lovers, without resorting to easy cynicism, following complex everyday family dramas through to provisionally happy resolutions. Haddon is particularly skilled at showcasing the silences, misunderstandings and missed opportunities that spring from parents and children speaking at cross-purposes.” — The Globe and Mail
“Style is everything in the farce game and, happily, Haddon brings much of that to the table, with a dry yet acerbic wit. . . . A Spot of Bother, so different from Haddon’s name-making novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a bit of jolly good fun.” — New York Daily News
“A Spot of Bother is such a pleasure to read — it is funny, wry, and well-paced — that it is only later that you realize what a thoughtful novel it is. . . . Satisfying and emotionally rich.” — Powell’s Books, “Review-a-Day”
“This is a masterful novel in which Haddon has surpassed his previous achievement. He pulls off the extraordinary trick of being simultaneously riotously funny, profoundly insightful, and deeply poignant. . . . Haddon has written beautifully about the messiness of life with a poise and grit that few novelists truly possess. Fans of Curious Incident can rest assured that they won’t be disappointed.” — The Scotsman
“Haddon’s style is a reader’s bliss. He writes seamless prose. The words are melted into meaning. . . . Haddon’s gift is to make us look at ourselves when we think we’re looking away, being entertained. . . . A Spot of Bother is perfect medicine.” — The Scotsman
“Very funny and deeply painful.” — The Independent
“Nothing short of brilliant…. Haddon has filled 390 pages with sharp and witty observations about family and daily life…. A superb novel.” — The Independent
“No bother at all, this comic follow-up to Haddon’s blockbuster (and a best-selling book of poems) is great fun.” — Publishers Weekly
“The writing is fresh, funny and wise. [Haddon’s] dry, nimble style is pitch perfect, capturing the hectic anxieties of a family constantly teetering on the edge between respectability and humiliation.” — New York Observer
“Haddon persuades us to join George in not knowing who is out of touch with reality and who isn’t, and to feel the balance tilt alarmingly as the events rush by. It is an appealingly disorienting experience . . . a work of art. . . . A Spot of Bother is witty as well as funny.” TLS
“Entertaining. Haddon has all the ingredients for a classic, sappy tale of family dysfunction, but his sharp humour, ear for the absurd and refusal to pigeonhole his characters makes his story anything but predictable.” — Edmonton Journal
“If anyone can make mental illness entertaining, it’s Mark Haddon. . . . A darkly funny take on a family all to ordinary but fascinating in their emotional complexity.” — Toronto Sun
“Moving . . . Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye and one of Oliver Sacks’s real-life stories.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting.” —Washington Post Book World
“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy.” —The New Yorker
“Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent.” —Boston Globe
“Disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect . . . as suspenseful and harrowing as anything in Conan Doyle.” —Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review
“Funny, sad and totally convincing.” —Time
“More so than precursors like The Sound and the Fury and Flowers for Algernon, The Curious Incident is a radical experiment in empathy. ” —Village Voice
“One of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction.” —Slate
From the Hardcover edition.
At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'. Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the way he cares for her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by the way the wedding planning gets in the way of her affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
George Hall doesn't understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. 'The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.' Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.
At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'. Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
The way these damaged people fall apart - and come together - as a family is the true subject of Mark Haddon's disturbing yet very funny portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
Über den Autor
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
It began when George was trying on a black suit in Allders the week before Bob Green’s funeral.
It was not the prospect of the funeral that had unsettled him. Nor Bob dying. To be honest he had always found Bob’s locker-room bonhomie slightly tiring and he was secretly relieved that they would not be playing squash again. Moreover, the manner in which Bob had died (a heart attack while watching the Boat Race on television) was oddly reassuring. Susan had come back from her sister’s and found him lying on his back in the center of the room with one hand over his eyes, looking so peaceful she thought initially that he was taking a nap.
It would have been painful, obviously. But one could cope with pain. And the endorphins would have kicked in soon enough, followed by that sensation of one’s life rushing before one’s eyes which George himself had experienced several years ago when he had fallen from a stepladder, broken his elbow on the rockery and passed out, a sensation which he remembered as being not unpleasant (a view from the Tamar Bridge in Plymouth had figured prominently for some reason). The same probably went for that tunnel of bright light as the eyes died, given the number of people who heard the angels calling them home and woke to ﬁnd a junior doctor standing over them with a defibrillator.
Then . . . nothing. It would have been over.
It was too early, of course. Bob was sixty-one. And it was going to be hard for Susan and the boys, even if Susan did blossom now that she was able to finish her own sentences. But all in all it seemed a good way to go.
No, it was the lesion which had thrown him.
He had removed his trousers and was putting on the bottom half of the suit when he noticed a small oval of puffed flesh on his hip, darker than the surrounding skin and flaking slightly. His stomach rose and he was forced to swallow a small amount of vomit which appeared at the back of his mouth.
He had not felt like this since John Zinewski’s Fireball had capsized several years ago and he had found himself trapped underwater with his ankle knotted in a loop of rope. But that had lasted for three or four seconds at most. And this time there was no one to help him right the boat.
He would have to kill himself.
It was not a comforting thought but it was something he could do, and this made him feel a little more in control of the situation.
The only question was how.
Jumping from a tall building was a terrifying idea, easing your center of gravity out over the edge of the parapet, the possibility that you might change your mind halfway down. And the last thing he needed at this point was more fear.
Hanging needed equipment and he possessed no gun.
If he drank enough whiskey he might be able to summon the courage to crash the car. There was a big stone gateway on the A16 this side of Stamford. He could hit it doing 90 mph with no difficulty whatsoever.
But what if his nerve failed? What if he were too drunk to control the car? What if someone pulled out of the drive? What if he killed them, paralyzed himself and died of cancer in a wheelchair in prison?
“Sir...? Would you mind accompanying me back into the store?”
A young man of eighteen or thereabouts was staring down at George. He had ginger sideburns and a navy blue uniform several sizes too large for him.
George realized that he was crouching on the tiled threshold outside the shop.
George got to his feet. “I’m terribly sorry.”
“Would you mind accompanying me...?”
George looked down and saw that he was still wearing the suit trousers with the fly undone. He buttoned it rapidly. “Of course.”
He walked back through the doors then made his way between the handbags and the perfumes toward the menswear department with the security guard at his shoulder. “I appear to have had some kind of turn.”
“You’ll have to discuss that with the manager, I’m afraid, sir.”
The black thoughts which had filled his mind only seconds before seemed to have occurred a very long time ago. True, he was a little unsure on his feet, the way you were after slicing your thumb with a chisel, for example, but he felt surprisingly good given the circumstances.
The manager of the menswear department was standing bedside a rack of slippers with his hands crossed over his groin. “Thank you, John.” The security guard gave him a deferential little nod, turned on his heels and walked away. “Now, Mr....”
“Hall. George Hall. My apologies. I . . .”
“Perhaps we should have a word in my office,” said the manager.
A woman appeared carrying George’s trousers. “He left these in the changing room. His wallet’s in the pocket.”
George pressed on. “I think I had some kind of blackout. I really didn’t mean to cause any trouble.”
How good it was to be talking to other people. Them saying something. Him saying something in return. The steady ticktock of conversation. He could have carried on like this all afternoon.
“Are you all right, sir?”
The woman cupped a hand beneath his elbow and he slid downward and sideways onto a chair which felt more solid, more comfortable and more supportive than he remembered any chair ever feeling.
Things became slightly vague for a few minutes.
Then a cup of tea was placed into his hands.
“Thank you.” He sipped. It was not good tea but it was hot, it was in a proper china mug and holding it was a comfort.
“Perhaps we should call you a taxi.”
It was probably best, he thought, to head back to the village and buy the suit another day.
He decided not to mention the incident to Jean. She would only want to talk about it and this was not an appealing proposition.
Talking was, in George’s opinion, overrated. You could not turn the television on these days without seeing someone discussing their adoption or explaining why they had stabbed their husband. Not that he was averse to talking. Talking was one of life’s pleasures. And everyone needed to sound off now and then over a pint of Ruddles about colleagues who did not shower frequently enough, or teenage sons who had returned home drunk in the small hours and thrown up in the dog’s basket. But it did not change anything.
The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely. How anyone could work in the same office for ten years or bring up children without putting certain thoughts permanently to the back of their mind was beyond him. And as for that last grim lap when you had a catheter and no teeth, memory loss seemed like a godsend.
He told Jean that he had found nothing in Allders and would drive back into town on Monday when he did not have to share Peterborough with forty thousand other people. Then he went upstairs to the bathroom and stuck a large plaster over the lesion so that it could no longer be seen.
He slept soundly for most of the night and woke only when Ronald Burrows, his long-dead geography teacher, pressed a strip of duct tape over his mouth and hammered a hole through the wall of George’s chest with a long metal spike. Oddly, it was the smell which upset him most, a smell like the smell of a poorly cleaned public toilet which has recently
been used by a very ill person, heady and curried, a smell, worst of all, which seemed to be coming from the wound in his own body.
He fixed his eyes on the tasseled lampshade above his head and waited for his heart to...