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The Paper Men

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English novelist Wilfred Barclay, who has known fame, success, and fortune, is in crisis. He faces a drinking problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, and the incurable itch of middle age lust. But the final, unbearable irritation is American Professor of English Literature Rick L. Tucker, who is implacable in his determinition to become The B English novelist Wilfred Barclay, who has known fame, success, and fortune, is in crisis. He faces a drinking problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, and the incurable itch of middle age lust. But the final, unbearable irritation is American Professor of English Literature Rick L. Tucker, who is implacable in his determinition to become The Barclay Man: authorized biographer, editor of the posthumous papers and the recognized authority.


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English novelist Wilfred Barclay, who has known fame, success, and fortune, is in crisis. He faces a drinking problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, and the incurable itch of middle age lust. But the final, unbearable irritation is American Professor of English Literature Rick L. Tucker, who is implacable in his determinition to become The B English novelist Wilfred Barclay, who has known fame, success, and fortune, is in crisis. He faces a drinking problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, and the incurable itch of middle age lust. But the final, unbearable irritation is American Professor of English Literature Rick L. Tucker, who is implacable in his determinition to become The Barclay Man: authorized biographer, editor of the posthumous papers and the recognized authority.

30 review for The Paper Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    3,5/5 Στο έργο αυτό ο Γκόλντινγκ, πραγματεύεται τη ζωή ενός χωρισμένου, αλκοολικού, μεσήλικα συγγραφέα (alter ego του;;;), και την εμμονική ιδέα ενός καθηγητή Πανεπιστημίου να γράψει τη βιογραφία του. Αρχικά φάνταζε ασυνάρτητο, όπως η αλκοολική ζωή του πρωταγωνιστή. Σταδιακά αποκτά αρκετό ενδιαφέρον, ενώ το χαρακτηρίζει μια εμμονή που φτάνει τη τρέλα, την παράνοια, και από τις δύο πλευρές. Συγγραφέας και καθηγητής εξαρτώνται τόσο έντονα ο ένας από τον άλλο, που φτάνουν στο σημείο αλληλοκαταστροφής 3,5/5 Στο έργο αυτό ο Γκόλντινγκ, πραγματεύεται τη ζωή ενός χωρισμένου, αλκοολικού, μεσήλικα συγγραφέα (alter ego του;;;), και την εμμονική ιδέα ενός καθηγητή Πανεπιστημίου να γράψει τη βιογραφία του. Αρχικά φάνταζε ασυνάρτητο, όπως η αλκοολική ζωή του πρωταγωνιστή. Σταδιακά αποκτά αρκετό ενδιαφέρον, ενώ το χαρακτηρίζει μια εμμονή που φτάνει τη τρέλα, την παράνοια, και από τις δύο πλευρές. Συγγραφέας και καθηγητής εξαρτώνται τόσο έντονα ο ένας από τον άλλο, που φτάνουν στο σημείο αλληλοκαταστροφής. Από όλο το μυθιστόρημα, η καταληκτική φράση, αποδίδει το πνεύμα του. Στα αρνητικά, η κορεσμένη ιστορία ενός πνευματικού ανθρώπου που βιώνει τη μοναξιά, που ψάχνει τον εαυτό του μπλα, μπλα, μπλα...

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Barker

    This is the eighth book by William Golding I've read and probably my least favourite, so it's unfortunate that this is the first work by him that I have reviewed. None the less, this is not a bad book. In it, celebrated writer Wilfred Barclay (suspiciously similar to Golding himself, with all his complicated hang-ups), an alcoholic author past his best, is chased around the world by young, up-and-coming Professor of Literature, Rick Tucker. Tucker has spotted a gap in the academic market and wan This is the eighth book by William Golding I've read and probably my least favourite, so it's unfortunate that this is the first work by him that I have reviewed. None the less, this is not a bad book. In it, celebrated writer Wilfred Barclay (suspiciously similar to Golding himself, with all his complicated hang-ups), an alcoholic author past his best, is chased around the world by young, up-and-coming Professor of Literature, Rick Tucker. Tucker has spotted a gap in the academic market and wants to be the world authority on Barclay. He longs, therefore, to gain permission to trawl through his old papers and diaries. But Barclay has secrets he does not want revealed and a catalogue of shame that runs into reams. Both men become obsessed with each other. Barclay sees his young nemesis everywhere he goes and when, finally, they meet again, it turns out Tucker has seen phantoms of the writer around the world. Caught in the throes of this unbreakable paranoia, power is wrestled with and fought over and authority is given and lost. Written in first person narrative from the writer Barclay’s POV it is not without humour and is readable but the voice reminds me of the narrator of Golding’s ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ trilogy but without the powerful story of ‘Rites of Passage’ (the first book in the series) or ‘Fire Down Below’ (the third). I’d recommend these books, ‘Pincher Martin’ and (of course) ‘Lord of the Flies’ over this middling, late-career work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie Barichello

    This book is worth reading just to make it to the last line. Although at times the story dragged with Wilf's narration and introspection (and occasional vague descriptions that required rereading a paragraph), and although during the last two chapters I simply wanted the book to conclude already, the final line made me legitimately LOL — I could not suppress laughing at the simple brilliance of how William Golding concluded the destructive spiral between Wilf Barclay and Rick Tucker. This is a qu This book is worth reading just to make it to the last line. Although at times the story dragged with Wilf's narration and introspection (and occasional vague descriptions that required rereading a paragraph), and although during the last two chapters I simply wanted the book to conclude already, the final line made me legitimately LOL — I could not suppress laughing at the simple brilliance of how William Golding concluded the destructive spiral between Wilf Barclay and Rick Tucker. This is a quick read, sliding in at less than 200 pages. The action is stop-and-go, but the characters make the novel worth the time invested simply because they are memorable, obsessive and destructive.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    Beautifully crafted, with striking descriptions of alcoholism, paranoia, writing, and the farce that is life in general. I'm hunting down more Golding immediately.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I'm not usually much taken with novels about novelists, but I can thoroughly recommend this one (1984). Not that there are any appealing characters in the book, but this is William Golding, isn't it? OK, maybe the old lady doing embroidery outside the deserted church, but she's just a walk-on. It's the novel before the famous trilogy, but nothing to do with it. Much of it is amusing and then suddenly.... The tone and approach reminded me most of Darkness Visible (1979). I say no more, except man I'm not usually much taken with novels about novelists, but I can thoroughly recommend this one (1984). Not that there are any appealing characters in the book, but this is William Golding, isn't it? OK, maybe the old lady doing embroidery outside the deserted church, but she's just a walk-on. It's the novel before the famous trilogy, but nothing to do with it. Much of it is amusing and then suddenly.... The tone and approach reminded me most of Darkness Visible (1979). I say no more, except many thanks to the Scottish-Texan literature freak who brought it up on the ABE Community Forum.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Not considered one of his best works by many, Golding has crafted a beautifully written, labyrinthine story. And that ending!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    "In hell there are no eyelids."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendle

    I adored Wilf. I’m not sure i was supposed to, but there we have it. He isn’t perfect, by any means, but he is unapologetically himself, and hurts almost no one but himself. Almost, except those closest to him (though whether he is close to them is debatable), and of course Rick L. Tucker. Wilf travels the world on no whim but his own, drinking, sleeping and writing. He makes no demands on people, letting the wind take him wherever it decides to blow. Rick L. Tucker, on the other hand, goes exac I adored Wilf. I’m not sure i was supposed to, but there we have it. He isn’t perfect, by any means, but he is unapologetically himself, and hurts almost no one but himself. Almost, except those closest to him (though whether he is close to them is debatable), and of course Rick L. Tucker. Wilf travels the world on no whim but his own, drinking, sleeping and writing. He makes no demands on people, letting the wind take him wherever it decides to blow. Rick L. Tucker, on the other hand, goes exactly where Wilf does. His obsessive, stalker, relentless behaviour really, really bothered me. He just wouldn’t give up chasing Wilf around, trying to convince him to let him be his official biographer. How many times can Wilf say, “No,” and disappear to another country before Rick gets the message? Never enough, apparently. Sorry, but harassment is not an endearing quality, and for all Wilf’s faults, i’ll take him over Tucker any day. That covers the plot, really. The rest of the interest of the book is more Wilf’s mind and thoughts, so i supposed having a soft spot for Wilf makes me more inclined to enjoy his words and the book itself. He is very much a writer, often comparing the world to how things would be done in one of his novels, and offering insight into the mind of a writer. He tos and fros between thought processes, opinions on himself, and choices and reasons. He’s an intellectual and literary man, and he’s also one of the most unreliable narrators i have ever read. His words were a joy, his drinking problem worrisome but occasionally controlled, his paranoia palpable but relatively harmless. He was, ultimately, fascinating. A longer review can be read at my book blog, Marvel at Words

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Writing review of books I hate is so much fun, I might have to do more of it (see my review of The Alchemist). I only made it through half of this book, and that was giving it more of a chance than it deserved. This guy is really a Nobel Laureate in literature? Really? This is one of his later works, and I know he wrote Lord of the Flies, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was in decline at this point--although he did write a Booker Prize winning trilogy after this, apparent Writing review of books I hate is so much fun, I might have to do more of it (see my review of The Alchemist). I only made it through half of this book, and that was giving it more of a chance than it deserved. This guy is really a Nobel Laureate in literature? Really? This is one of his later works, and I know he wrote Lord of the Flies, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was in decline at this point--although he did write a Booker Prize winning trilogy after this, apparently. Still, some sort of decline is the only explanation for why Golding thinks an aging writer obsessed with a younger woman (who happens to be his biographer's wife) is the least bit interesting, instead of just pathetic and creepy. And not pathetic and creepy in an entertaining way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I didn't even finish this garbage. There are already too many books about old white men complaining about how their lives are empty. I'm sure the end resolves in him either having an epiphany or continuing to be a dick. Either way, I can't bring myself to give a shit about this sorry old piteous sod of a character.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Freder

    Sharp, hard and deeply mean-spirited.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell McInnis

    I truly enjoyed this short novel by Golding. The textures of its narrative feel like a roman a clef, but it is spun fiction. Numerous critics described this book as 'uneven,' and I understand that criticism. What made The Paper Men especially intriguing was that I'd read Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending as well as Kermode's namesake book of literary theory. When taken in the larger context of author as narrator versus author as agent of individual life, all three books rise, and wildly fascinat I truly enjoyed this short novel by Golding. The textures of its narrative feel like a roman a clef, but it is spun fiction. Numerous critics described this book as 'uneven,' and I understand that criticism. What made The Paper Men especially intriguing was that I'd read Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending as well as Kermode's namesake book of literary theory. When taken in the larger context of author as narrator versus author as agent of individual life, all three books rise, and wildly fascinating and fruitful discussions ensue.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christian Schwoerke

    I like most all of Golding's oeuvre, but this book left me cold. It's not as funny as it seems to want to be, nor as clever. The principals are unlikeable, and their intellects and ratiocinations are not interesting. The moral element is unconvincing. A fascinating book to read, a wreck of a novel from a master. How did that happen?

  14. 5 out of 5

    D. E.

    Two men cross paths in their area of expertise. One is older and on his way into the age of dottage. The second is a brilliant writer who has climbed the ladder to success. The men have reached a entertainment in their dealings with each other so one cannot be above the other when working on the autobiography.....DEHS

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    An odd little story. For some reason I didn't find it very engaging, although I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because the main characters aren't particularly likeable. It's worth reading for the ending, though.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J

    DNF

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juanjo Thomas

    Such a satisfying read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sergio

    Un libro noioso, una grande delusione!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Cougler

    The Paper Men by William Golding. A rather short novella of limited interest in that its main character, an aging writer, through first person narration bares his soul right down to every last disgusting detail; yet, the book is interesting in its nemesis theme and its clever and competent writing style. The question which remains is which of the "paper men" is the most disgusting: the writer, Wilf Barclay, or the would-be biographer, Rick Tucker. The reader is left to decide.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sead

    A turgid and completely inconsequential door-stop by an otherwise significant writer, blunt and devoid of aesthetic or intellectual quality and a waste of 4 hours which would have been more productively spent drinking a pint of bleach and dying a slow death while being orally molested by the two orange tinted, rabidly dancing old men wailing the garbage infested burlesque babble of the popular musical ditty 'hey Macarena'. Lest we should fear digression, this is a suspiciously self-apologetic mo A turgid and completely inconsequential door-stop by an otherwise significant writer, blunt and devoid of aesthetic or intellectual quality and a waste of 4 hours which would have been more productively spent drinking a pint of bleach and dying a slow death while being orally molested by the two orange tinted, rabidly dancing old men wailing the garbage infested burlesque babble of the popular musical ditty 'hey Macarena'. Lest we should fear digression, this is a suspiciously self-apologetic monologue by a dull and wholly unconvincing protagonist (being the only semi-developed character in the novel) and follows the disappointing Darkness Visible as a work of dubious literary merit, for example, the themes of isolation, apathy and the precarious nature of celebrity are utilised to great effect by Vladimir Nabokov in Pale Fire in one of the first 'hyper-texts' in English literature, being also a virtuoso performance of poetic intensity and true originality, while this appears to be a half-baked and one-dimensional attempt at portraying the contemporary psyche of a disintegrating writer at odds with the limitations of the ordinary world. It's hardly J.M. Coetzee, but sadly, in mitigation, Golding appears to have recognised the irony of his predicament. This work is dull, and a far cry from the intense power of the writing in Pincher Martin. I have seldom taken so little away from a novel.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    William Golding was to literature what Stanley Kubrick was to filmmaking: everything that he did was different to everything that he had done before, even though the same preoccupations kept coming through. Part of the pleasure of following both men’s careers was seeing how they would take on an unexpected subject and make it entirely their own. Nothing Golding published was less like his previous (or subsequent) work than ‘The Paper Men’. I remember reading it when it first came out - I used my William Golding was to literature what Stanley Kubrick was to filmmaking: everything that he did was different to everything that he had done before, even though the same preoccupations kept coming through. Part of the pleasure of following both men’s careers was seeing how they would take on an unexpected subject and make it entirely their own. Nothing Golding published was less like his previous (or subsequent) work than ‘The Paper Men’. I remember reading it when it first came out - I used my Christmas money - and feeling almost betrayed, as if the wise sage (who had just won a Nobel Prize) had committed an embarrassing old man’s folly. What was Golding doing knocking out this threadbare and bilious academic comedy, like David Lodge without the jokes? And the ending seemed a pretty cheap trick. Only the weird and seemingly out-of-place stigmata episode seemed to have anything in common with the Golding that we knew, like an outtake from ‘Darkness Visible’. Not vintage Golding, by any means. But an interesting experiment – and after all, why shouldn’t the old chap try something different? It certainly portrays the author as a much more human figure than his other, more inscrutable works...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz Maisey

    Hard work, confused prose and story but I did like ending

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frankie

    I was surprised by how much I disliked this book, though Golding is one of my favorites. Granted, I've only read his earlier work till now... The characters were strong, and understandably so – as the narrator is the writer. Golding always develops people definitively through their prospective vices. I enjoyed the duality of the main c. and his (possibly autobiographical) social spite. As well, the plot was original and intriguing. There are, however, serious problems with continuity, character mo I was surprised by how much I disliked this book, though Golding is one of my favorites. Granted, I've only read his earlier work till now... The characters were strong, and understandably so – as the narrator is the writer. Golding always develops people definitively through their prospective vices. I enjoyed the duality of the main c. and his (possibly autobiographical) social spite. As well, the plot was original and intriguing. There are, however, serious problems with continuity, character motivation, etc. Maybe I missed something. What was the source of the main c's cruelty? Mostly, the ending angered me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Callie

    I have never read Lord of the Flies, or anything else by him...This book made me uncomfortable. He is certainly not easy on himself, I'm assuming the narrator is a very close version of him. He is not afraid to depict this man as unloving and unlovable. The ending is like no ending I've read before. Could be really cheesy in the hands of a lesser writer. Ultimately I am thinking he tossed this off to let off steam about something that was really happening in his own life. By that I mean, being p I have never read Lord of the Flies, or anything else by him...This book made me uncomfortable. He is certainly not easy on himself, I'm assuming the narrator is a very close version of him. He is not afraid to depict this man as unloving and unlovable. The ending is like no ending I've read before. Could be really cheesy in the hands of a lesser writer. Ultimately I am thinking he tossed this off to let off steam about something that was really happening in his own life. By that I mean, being pestered by academics...There is a part where he has a dream but it almost seems more like a NDE and it gives him a lot of peace, that was interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    A writer writing about a selfish, cynical, unhappy, and loveless alcoholic writer? Who could imagine such a thing? It's a bit breezy and I got the feeling Golding owed his publishers a book and wrote this one. That isn't to say it's bad - it is actually humorous at times and well constructed but uninspired. One major thing that got to me was that Wilf should have had more respect for Rick. I realize Rick's a critic, and writers are incapable of admitting respect for critics in print, but it's no A writer writing about a selfish, cynical, unhappy, and loveless alcoholic writer? Who could imagine such a thing? It's a bit breezy and I got the feeling Golding owed his publishers a book and wrote this one. That isn't to say it's bad - it is actually humorous at times and well constructed but uninspired. One major thing that got to me was that Wilf should have had more respect for Rick. I realize Rick's a critic, and writers are incapable of admitting respect for critics in print, but it's not like Rick's an Eton educated snot - he's a bootstrapper like Wilf - just not as successful. Oh well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    the premise of this book sounded good, Wilfred Barclay an author, a drinker and in a dead end marriage is approached by Rick Turner, an American, who wants to write Barclay's biography. He follows Barclay accross Europe trying to get Barclay to agree to give him access to all his personal papers. It is an ok book, there is alot of good stuff in it, but nothing compared to "The Lord of The Flies", only other Golding book i have read. They are worlds apart in comparison, and seemingly by completel the premise of this book sounded good, Wilfred Barclay an author, a drinker and in a dead end marriage is approached by Rick Turner, an American, who wants to write Barclay's biography. He follows Barclay accross Europe trying to get Barclay to agree to give him access to all his personal papers. It is an ok book, there is alot of good stuff in it, but nothing compared to "The Lord of The Flies", only other Golding book i have read. They are worlds apart in comparison, and seemingly by completely different writers.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kari Ramadorai

    Surprisingly good for a book that started so very depressingly. The characters are all a little abhorrent, and I still wonder if there was indeed a grad student chasing William Golding around trying to be his memoir author. But overall it started getting interesting about half way through. The book stopped the navel gazing and started psychological drama. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a well turned phrase with some intrigue behind it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rob Carr

    I struggled to get into this book for a while as the life of a drunken older author is not something I particularly empathise with. However by the end I was finding myself reading on and on to find out what would happen next. One of the things I did find reading this is how much of the feelings expressed in this book actually come from Goldings own life. It is easy to see a lot of it as simply being exaggerations of events that have happened to him personally.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vincent A.

    William Golding's brilliant character study is an easy, enjoyable journey from beginning to end. The story follows its flawed hero, with a persistent sycophant in pursuit, as he travels - and perhaps flees - across Europe, dropping the baggage of his life along the way. "The Paper Men" is charming, comical and just a little dangerous. Mr. Golding offers more than one surprise to titillate the reader and set the stage for "The Paper Men's" unexpected ending.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sergei_kalinin

    Очень странная книга... Стилистически - это, несомненно, шедевр. Идеально воспроизводится "поток сознания" писателя: а) стареющего; б) отравленного алкоголем; в) пережившего инсульт; г) переживающего распад собственной личности. По смыслу и содержанию - эта книга про ненависть и нетерпимость, про то, как люди используют других людей, предают себя (бегут от себя), от любви и близких. Несмотря на обилие черного юмора - тяжелая книга, грустная и страшная. Написанная Мастером...

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