Jonathan Coe: Number 11



What s happened to Jonathan Coe Did his publisher insist he write another book and Coe shrugged his shoulders and said Oh if I must Or has he simply run out of inventive steam This was truly fantastic I d forgotten ite how much I love Jonathan Coe s writing What the what the what now I loved the Jonathan Coe of What a Carve Up and The Rotters Club but this is as far from that intelligent warm humour as you may find yourself on a misty winter s night in Chelsea I can t begin to describe what this book is But it is a mess Maybe Coe was Captivated by the Millionaire under pressure to produce a book by Penguin and found six notebooks in his drawers a This is a funny and mildly disturbing state of England and coming of age novel I d only read one previous book by Coe Expo 58 annrepresentative 1950s set comedy so this is a better example of his A Mighty Big Wish usual pattern multiple loosely linked storylines Here the theme is the absurdity of modern culture encompassing many aspectsnjust wars the excesses of the My Mother, a Serial Killer uber rich the obsession with celebrity and suspicion and exclusion of those who are different froms The number 11 keeps popping The Italians Stolen Bride up tooMy favorite parts were a Survivor type reality television show and a laughably over the top prize ceremony banuet At times I had trouble fitting all the pieces together in my mind which reduced the impact but overall it works The biting critiue never detracts from the characterization and the bizarre ending with its dip into fantasy is a delightful little jolt As Blair has mentioned there s a brief reference to What a Carve Up that suggests this is a seuel but no knowledge of the previous book is necessaryInteresting to see that the US edition has been given a subtitle Or Tales That Witness MadnessRelated reading Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy London sber rich Capital by John Lanchester a kaleidoscopic state of England novel Lost for Words by Edward St Aubyn comic discussion of a prize race I was about fifty pages into this book before I realised it was an The Greek Tycoons Mistress unexpected seuel to What a Carve Up Jonathan Coe s acclaimed 1994 novel satirising the Thatcher years in Britain which was surprising as I always assumed that book was a standalone Having read What a Carve Up I can tell you that you needn t have read it before pickingp Number 11 and even Coe himself seems to be subtly describing this book as. This is a novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect s allIt's about the legacy of war and the end of

Seuels which are not really seuels Seuels where the relationship to the original is obliue slippery p152 Which is accurate The ote above is in reference to What a Whopper a real 1962 Sid James film that loosely connected to the real 1961 Sid James film What a Carve Up I ll try to keep the exclamation marks to a minimum here on out but I also really liked Number 11 There isn t much of a plot It s basically an overview of 21st century Britain Rachel a young Oxford graduate who can t find work becomes the private tutor to the children of an obscenely wealthy banker Her friend Alison becomes the victim of one of the few surviving Winshaw family members Josephine Winshaw Eaves whose online right wing column lands her in jail Alison s mum Val a one hit wonder tries to rejuvenate her singing career with a stint on a reality show akin to I m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Rachel s former teacher Laura is studying the Loch Ness Monster for an academic thesis an intellectual copper called PC Nathan Pilbeam is investigating a series of murders involving comedians and something terrible has been awakened deep Bidding on Her Boss (The Hawke Brothers, underneath London The title popsp throughout There s a Number 11 bus a Number 11 table the massive basement being dug by Rachel s rich employers is 11 storeys deep and the official residence of the Chancellor of the Excheuer is Number 11 Downing Street and the story is heavily focused on finance and the economy You could if you suint even see it as the Roman numeral for 2 as in the second book in the Winshaw series Number 11 could be a reference for any or all of the above Coe s previous novel slightly informs the structure of this novel It too is a satire aimed at conservative politics the targets are either Winshaws or connected to the family in some way there s another chap obsessed with a movie this time it s Laura s husband Tim searching for a short pre war German film called The Crystal Garden and there are references to another Sid James movie Some of the digressions feel a bit tenuous in terms of the supposed satire like what does obsessing over The Crystal Garden have to do with the state of Britain today Maybe something to do with nostalgia informing contemporary politicsthe national mood And it didn t need the Whopper movie references either as they didn t really add much or were that int. NnocenceIt's about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have wonIt's about how 140 characters can make fools of s allIt's about living in

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READ Number 11 ï Jonathan Coe – chernov–art.com

Eresting I suppose you could also say some of the targets reality TV Twitter hate mobs are obvious and that Coe doesn t have anything original to say about them but I m really just reaching to figure out for myself why I didn t totally love this book as opposed to just enjoying it a lot Because most of the book is really really excellent It s witty and npredictable and compelling it effectively mixes together disparate elements like realistic drama with comedic farce meaningless tragedy astute political commentary and Twos Company unexpected horror like briefly in The Black Tower opening chapter and later in the final act I really enjoyed the irreverent tone at times I felt like I was reading part of a lost Terry Pratchett s City Watch story with the antics of the clownish DCI Capes who fruitlessly tries to get others to call him The Caped Crusader and the vastly sober PC Pilbeam and his chaste love forltra religious school teacher Lucinda Givings It s all wrapped p in Coe s smooth confident prose making sure that it s never a chore to read I liked the glimpses into the lives of the super wealthy The character portraits of Sir Gilbert s demented wife Madiana and the perpetually furious newspaper magnate Sir Peter were fun even if the accuracy of London properties being bought as investments and then left empty is both a depressing reality and an absurd state of affairs Coe cleverly contrasts the ghostly alities of both the super wealthy and the poor in their absences to the sight of the general public I can t really blame Coe for opting for a fantastical ending which is at odds with everything preceding it because I don t think it s fair to expect him to come Secret Hideout (Cooper, up with solutions for the current state of things and at least he made it an entertaining finale taking things into annexpected but not False Family unwelcome as I m a fan of the genre horror direction Maybe because Number 11 was shorter than the previous Winshaw book and focused maybe because this book is contemporary and relevant maybe Coe s just become a better writer and storyteller in the 20 years since the last Winshaw book and this whatever the reasons I had a blast with Number 11 Though it might not be the most successful satire this is a very entertaining well written and imaginative novel brilliantly capturing a snapshot of early 21st century Britai. City where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the streetIt is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best ­ showings how we live

See this thread for information Jonathan Coe born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham is a British novelist and writer His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire For example What a Carve Up reworks the plot of an old 1960s spoof horror film of the same name in the light of the 'carve up' of the UK's resources which some felt was carried out by Margaret Thatcher's right wing Conservative governments of the 1980s Coe studied at King Edward's School Birmingham and Trinity College Cambridge before teaching at the University of Warwick where he completed a PhD in English Literature In July 2006 he was given an honorary degree by The University of Birmingham Retrieved 1055 February 2 2009 from