Pears, Tim Wake Up

ISBN 13: 9780747561538

Wake Up

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9780747561538: Wake Up
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"Early nineteenth-century France had Balzac, we have Tim Pears" - "The Times". For John, a potato isn't just a staple food, it's also something wondrous, the secret of his success and the key to the future. With his brother, Greg, he has turned his father's greengrocery business into Spudnik, Britain's largest dealer in potatoes. Now, he wants to change the world by introducing, through potatoes, edible vaccines: plants genetically modified to provide an edible alternative to injections. But as John spins round and round the ring road avoiding his turn off to work he has to figure out how to tell his brother that deep in the Venezuelan jungle, volunteers have died during the latest illegal trials. Deaths that they have to find some way to hide. "Wake up" is a book about our times, and how we are hurtling, almost silently, into a new age with implications that are unfathomable. Funny, fluent, and provocative it is a major new novel from one of our finest contemporary writers. "Wake up" is a book about our times, and how we are hurtling, almost silently, into a new age with implications that are unfathomable.

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Product Description:

For John, a potato isn't just a staple food, it's also something wondrous, the secret of his success and the key to the future. With his brother, Greg, he has turned his father's greengrocery business into Spudnik, Britain's largest dealer in potatoes. Now, he wants to change the world by introducing, through potatoes, edible vaccines.

Review:

There is a grubby, Lawrencean, earthiness about Wake Up, Tim Pears' fourth novel. Rotting vegetables, mud, urine, excrement, vomit and semen jostle for space in an invective first-person narrative. The central character John Sharp is an unnerving, unpleasant but often amusing raconteur. He's the misogynistic, misanthropic Oxford-educated brains behind Spudnik, Britain's largest potato dealers. Despite his disdain for the bulk of the word's inhabitants, he has unwavering faith in a scheme to cultivate vaccines in genetically modified spuds. The book opens with John driving to work having just learnt that two people have died in dubious trials of the prototype. Uncertain about how to break the news to Greg, his brother and (brawny) business partner; he becomes mesmerised by a ring road. As he spins relentlessly around it, in a subtle but insistent echo of the nature's own cycles, he starts to unfurl a highly questionable version of his life story. By the second page John has already confessed to lying and continually retracts, denies and reworks his own version of events, leaving the reader, as the silent, omnipresent interlocutor, to decide quite how believable any part of his story is.

Potato lore permeates his monologue--even seeping into a marvellously tuberous description of the Sharp clan's physiognomy: "We were a plug-ugly Anglo-Saxon family. Yes, we were. White and skinny or white and lumpy: that was the choice our genes offered us." Progeny, human and vegetable in John's case, is Pears' overriding theme. There's a remarkable neatness here. Pears is very adept at tidy but believable contrasts: John's scientism is marked against his wife Lily's New Ageism; Lily's adventurous cooking is in turn compared to John's mother's ability to drain food of its taste, while Greg's entrepreneurial vigour is sharply contrasted with their late father's inability to get beyond running a single fruit and veg stall. These binary motifs drive the novel; making John a robust, if sometimes obnoxious, figure and giving the whole thing a pleasing cohesion. There's a slightly annoying, final twist (Frankenspud turns out to be John's second genetic monstrosity) but this inventive and actually very funny novel asks serious questions about the responsibilities, and possible dangers, of scientific "progress". --Travis Elborough

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780747559573: Wake Up

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ISBN 10:  0747559570 ISBN 13:  9780747559573
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2002
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9780747560319: Wake up

Blooms..., 2002
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9780747564430: Wake Up

Blooms..., 2003
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