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Other titles in the Vintage Contemporaries series:
Spiderby Patrick McGrath
Synopses & Reviews
Spider is gaunt, threadbare, unnerved by everything from his landlady to the smell of gas. He tells us his story in a storm of beautiful language that slowly reveals itself as a fiendishly layered construction of truth and illusion. With echoes of Beckett, Poe, and Paul Bowles, Spider is a tale of horror and madness, storytelling and skepticism, a novel whose dizzying style lays bare the deepest layers of subconscious terror.
"[A] closely observed study of madness, memory and storytelling....An admixture of Poe and the comic vulnerabilities of Beckett, this tale lingers long and disturbingly in the mind." Publishers Weekly
"[T]ruly outstanding....Accomplished in the sinister and macabre, McGrath transcends his already solid reputation with a powerfully realized character named Spider who simply won't let you go once you meet him in these densely evocative pages....As in Dickens, there's beauty here, too, the beauty of otherness....McGrath is a master stylist." The Christian Science Monitor
"A small classic of horror." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Despite a less pungent second half, Spider confirms McGrath's mastery of the terrain he's staked out for himself: a twisted place where the most rank, hideous experiences are conveyed in a prose so tight, assured, and essentially self-mocking that he maintains a fine balance between high gothic horror and fussy stylization." Voice Literary Supplement
"Patrick McGrath's second novel is neither convincing nor compelling except, possibly, as a minor horror story. There is certainly enough horror, but of a squalid, repetitive nature, and lovers of gore would be better served by Stephen King. On the other hand, there is too little psychological depth or intensity...to make this book worth reading for the sake of its insights into madness." The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
"Disturbing, wholly absorbing....[A] combination murder mystery/dark-night-of-the-soul...touchingly, menacingly brilliant." Chicago Tribune
"A gorgeous, painful howl of madness, shockingly perfect." John Hawkes
"As in many stories by Poe, McGrath's portrayal of a diseased mind evokes disquiet but also voyeuristic fascination." Library Journal
The novel is the purported journal of Dennis 'Spider' Cleg, a frail, deranged Londoner. After many years away, Spider returns to his old neighborhood in London's East End slums. Ensconced in a small drab room in a grubby boarding house, he keeps a written record in which he reconstructs and grapples with the mysterious events in his childhood that caused his long sojourn in Canada.
Basis for the new film directed by David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers) and starring Ralph Fiennes and Gabriel Byrne.
About the Author
Patrick McGrath lives in New York City and London. His books include The Grotesque, Asylum, and Martha Peake.
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