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Download One Hand Clapping epub

by Anthony Burgess

Download One Hand Clapping epub
ISBN: 0345031512
ISBN13: 978-0345031518
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Literary
Author: Anthony Burgess
Language: English
Publisher: Ballantine Books (1973); First Paperback Edition edition (1973)
ePUB size: 1244 kb
FB2 size: 1294 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 161
Other Formats: lrf txt rtf mobi

Do you remember the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES TV sitcom back in 1962?

"This is the story about a man named Jed...a poor mountaineer who barely kept his family day he was shooting for some food and out from the ground came some bubbling crude...Texas Tea...the kin folks said Jed move away from there... this ain't the place you ought to be so they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly...hills that is ...swimming pools... movie stars." (Introduction song BEVERLY HILLBILLIES TV sitcom)

An American TV sitcom complements an English pulp story from 1961 in that both tales make the journey from rags to riches just like Jed.

Howard and Janet are stalwart service proletarians in post war England. Howard is a too candid used car salesman and Janet works as a stocker in a grocery store. Howard has a hidden gift that will change their lives forever. Howard has a photographic memory which enables him to win big on a popular TV game show and later the horse track. Howard views his gift as a "deformity."

How a photographic memory give someone an advantage in horse racing is a mystery to me. How Howard could read as much as he did to answer every single obscure question correctly is another mystery. The couple leave their small home in a tiny village for a lavish spending spree in London. In a small London theatre, Howard correctly explains the Buddhist koan "one hand clapping" to the befuddled Janet only leaving me to wonder how Howard's intelligence can be just photographic.The saga of Howard and Janet continues with Howard strangely aloof and preoccupied as the couple engages in conspicuous consumption and lavish trips. Janet engages in adultery.

Janet's tortured self talk narration in prole-speak is entertaining as we learn that Shakespeare was a beatnik who wore ruffles and never bathed, her full length mink is just like the queen's, and whether the American term "Jumbo Steaks" referred to New York City roasted elephant entree or cooked Jumbo. Janet describes her dramatic turn of events in a dull monotone of high school thought. The prole self talk of Janet is tedious, patronizing and unfortunately dominates the book. I hate Burgess.

Burgess-the well known reactionary-seemed to have declared war on what C.S. Lewis called our "mass produced, conscripted age." In CLOCKWORK ORANGE it is a failed English communist state that produces youth gangs. In WANTING SEED, it is a failed birth control state that leads to a resurgent Catholic Church (a hierarchy) replete with cannibalistic orgies and mass procreation. In M/F, the book is written in Anglo Saxon archaic slang in contempt of the ordinary reader while the common folk in M/F are circus criminals. In ONE HAND CLAPPING, it is a bumbling proletariat gifted with nothing more than a "deformity" who can find success. What did Burgess have against the common man?

Howard's life path is parallel to Janet's yet always remains strangely methodical...a plan with an unknown purpose. Howard becomes more quilt ridden over somehow mimicking true talent with his curse deformity of photographic memory. Guilt ridden Howard gives money to a tabloid to help struggling artists...those with real talent. The cryptic Howard and the vacuous Janet are on a set of diverging paths and destinies that the reader must discover himself. I don't want to ruin the ending. The bored rich Janet sure loves her mink though.

Thy money perish with thee... Acts 8:20. How true here.

I hate Burgess but am attracted to him like a bear to honey. HONEY FOR THE BEARS is another Burgess book I haven't read, yet like Alec in CLOCKWORK ORANGE I am predestined,not to kill, but to finish another Burgess book.
The last two pages of the book had been ripped out. Could not know how the story ended. Made the entire product defective and pointless.
He is said to have "dumbed" down this book for more mass appeal, but it's still a very good story. Some writers could only dream of being at the same level of this "dumbed" down work.
Not his best work. A journal of sudden wealth, told first-person by an uneducated English housewife. I found it predictable, and the narrator's voice, funny at first, grew tiresome well before the end. If you've the desire for a good first-person book, read 'A Long Way Down' by Nick Hornby instead.
One Hand Clapping is a 1961 novel Anthony Burgess originally published under a pseudonym (as Joseph Kell) that is narrated in first person by a dull-witted 23-year-old British housewife, Janet Shirley. Janet was annoying to me not so much for her unsophisticated observations as for the alacrity with she is willing to cheat on the husband she claims to love. That she does it with a rather reprehensible leech of a "poet" only makes it worse.

Not that Janet's husband, Howard, is any great shakes, either. Howard has photographic memory and a certain amount of clairvoyance, which allows him to win a TV quiz show and play the ponies very successfully. Unfortunately, he is also muddleheaded and guilt-ridden about his new-found wealth and about the state of the world in general, which leads to a rather dramatic ending to the plot.

My problem with One Hand Clapping was that I found no one to really sympathize with. Burgess' narration of incidents through Janet was certainly amusing, as were the incidents themselves, from the game show episode to the couple's travels and experiences in the United States.

A very amusing book but not an engaging one.
This is not standard grandiloquent Anthony Burgess in that it is deliberately written with a limited vocabulary. This departure from the norm has a point: for cultural absorption to take place in a population as a whole, it takes both the critical and the uncritical to do the absorbing. Burgess' narrator is a sensitive but poorly educated person, the counterpart of an intellectually astute, if ultimately insensitive, husband who is driven mad by the senselessness of the insurgent American culture.

Yes of course this novel is dated. It was set in the austere 1950s, when most people in Britain paid for the second world war with materially limited lives, which provides the counterpoint of the married couple's international wealth binge. All right, if contemporary fiction is what you're after, you're in the wrong place, but apart from the interest in seeing how life was lived then (or remembering, for some of us), some of the points made about materialism and the meaning of life are forever valid.

If you are reading the new edition of this book ('The Anthony Burgess Collection'), then do yourself a favour and skip the introduction (by one Roger Lewis). Apart from blurting out the highlights of the plot, he also spends a fair amount of time abusing the author and coming out with less than enlightening literary allusions without really dealing clearly with the central themes. Or if you really must, then read it afterwards. Taking it at its word, as an introduction, really spoiled my read.
One Hand Clapping is a short, bitterly humorous look at a British working-class couple who strive to win a fortune on a TV quiz show, then spend their fortune in a rather peculiar fashion. Although Once Hand Clapping was written in the early 1960s it's satiric message still rings true. I loved it.
However this novel is not for everyone. Firstly, the book has a very British feel about it. Much of the wording is not used in America, and is even distinctly old-fashioned here in England. But otherwise One Hand Clapping is an excellent introduction to the brilliant world of Anthony Burgess.