Charlie Fairburn, successful screenwriter, ex-husband and absent father, has been give six months to life. He resolves to stake half his fortune on a couple of turns of the roulette wheel and, to his agent's disgust, to write a novel - about death. In the casino he meets his muse. Charlie grows as addicted writing fiction as she is to gambling. Charlie's novel is set on a train and involves a group of characters locked in a debate about the nature of consciousness. As the train gets stuck at Didcot Junction and Charlie gets more passionately entangled with the with dangerous young woman who is his nemesis, Edward St Aubyn's dazzling novel comes to its startling climax.
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"My mind is busy, busy, busy. I just don't see how I'm going to fit dying into my packed schedule." Charlie Fairburn, screenwriter supremo of "Aliens with a Human Heart" has been told he's got six months to live--so he goes through every clue in the book as to how to make it bearable: sells his pink pad in St Tropez, lives it up in grand hotels, beds the beautiful Angelique and lets her gamble away his fortune, tries poverty on a remote bit of the Med, then silence in the desert and tries writing "something honest and complete". His topic is consciousness and the characters in his novel, "On the Train", have just left an Oxford conference on consciousness, and are stuck at Didcot Junction. Among them are the wordy French linguist Jean-Paul, Crystal of New Age enthusiasms and, off-stage in a coma, her husband Peter (all three of them were the main characters in St Aubyn's last novel, On the Edge, shortlisted for the Guardian prize).
Edward St Aubyn is a dazzlingly witty satirist of almost everything. Mostly his writing is outstanding in its comic set-pieces, inventive enquiries, digressions on writing itself, and its quick and unsettling asides. But it's the morphing of the big existential questions into our current obsession with the brain that St Aubyn addresses most satirically--and most concernedly. Somehow, could knowing everything about that bit of grey matter let us squirm out of "the fear in the marrow, the fear of loveless desolation which was laying waste the last months of my (Charlie's) life?". Underneath it lies a deadly serious and terrifically entertaining novel, worthy of admiration and attention. --Ruth PetrieReview:
"Once more, St Aubyn takes us to the very limits of the expressible." -"Spectator
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Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099285789
Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099285789