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Reality and Dreams

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  203 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Tom Richards has fallen off a crane while directing his latest movie, 'The Hamburger Girl', fracturing some ribs and a hip. A comic procession of doctors, nurses, and relatives files through his hospital room. Another director replaces him at the studio, and everything in his cinematic dream is being changed - the screenplay, the title, the plot. Tom is baffled and ...more
Published November 1st 1997 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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MJ Nicholls
May 26, 2016 MJ Nicholls rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, hoots-mon, distaff
A featureless effort from the mistress of the concise comedic novel. A cast of unlikeable twerps swan around having automatic affairs, and an unloved daughter flees the family bosom for a few months, to scant interest. Paper-thin plot and half-arsed characters, coupled with an earnest tone (as a vicious satire this might have worked—Spark seems to want us to empathise with these odious people) sink this late-career sigh. Three stars for the Sparkness, and for seeing me to bed with the ...more
Apr 24, 2012 Jane rated it liked it
Tom Richards was on top of the world.

He was a film director, at the top of the highest, shouting orders through a megaphone and watching his world moving under his command.

But something went wrong – a wheel moved when it shouldn’t – and he tumbled back to earth.

He was no longer a god, he was just a sixty-three year-old man with a fractured and twelve broken ribs, trapped in a hospital bed and having to watch the world move about him with no direction at all.

People swirled about him.

Nurses. Wives
Apr 26, 2015 Ted rated it liked it
Totally forgettable book. I'm getting rid of books that I've read today. The only reason I know I've read this one is that I have a spreadsheet that says I have. (Plus I'd already given it a 3 rating on GR.) Picked it up, looked at it, concluded quickly "toss".

That's not to say that I may not have enjoyed the read at the time, it was probably okay. But even though it's very short, not worth taking up 1/4 inch of shelf space. If you see it at a garage sale for two bits, go for it.
tortoise dreams
Apr 14, 2016 tortoise dreams rated it really liked it
A movie director, injured while on set, soon finds his real and creative lives in conflict, as are the economic and sexual aspects of the lives of his family, friends, and colleagues.

Muriel Spark is unsubtle here: this really is a book about reality and dreams. Normally I think of plot as secondary in a Spark book, and focus more on her excellent writing, keen wit, and sharp observation. But she was trying something completely different in Reality and Dreams, and her plot intertwines the real a
Jun 08, 2014 Emma rated it did not like it
This is the first book by Muriel Spark I have read and it was a shocking disappointment. I came to her work expecting the literary excellence promised both by her reputation and by the blurb of this book.
Unfortunately, this (mercifully) short novel is actually one of the worst I have read. A cast of crashing bores, bolstered by a family fortune, exchange painfully unrealistic dialogue and each other's sexual partners in an ever more preposterous storyline. The ludicrous conversations and inner t
Perry Whitford
Oct 06, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it liked it
The first book I have read by Spark, a humorous yet frivolous affair about humorous yet frivolous people circling around the orbit of a famous film director, who begins the book in hospital after a serious accident in a camera crane.

Tom Richards is said protagonist, using his time of convalescence to think about how to finish his latest film, plan future projects and meet with members of his extended family.

He has an open marriage with his current wife, as well as an ugly and hateful daughter,
Justin Evans
Oct 30, 2011 Justin Evans rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes you read a book in which there are many, many bad things, but one or two great things make up for it. Sometimes you read a book with which there isn't much wrong, but also nothing really right. 'Reality and Dreams' is like the latter. The characters are interesting. Something seems to be being said. Unfortunately, the interestingness of the characters isn't greater than usual, and whatever is being said is so weakly said that it probably wasn't worth saying, unless the point is that ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
It's not bad, I just didn't really like it because it seems like a dead novel. It lacks emotion (I can't believe I'm complaining about lack of emotion! What's happening to me.), which is usually compensated with intelligence in better novels, i.e. if you can't feel then at least you can think.

I hate when people describe things as 'bourgeois,' so I really hate myself for having to use that word in description of this book.

Conclusion: Don't bother. But I still want to read Spark's other books, be
Jul 13, 2008 Jim rated it it was ok
Soon after I started this story about people involved in the film industry I discovered that I'd read it before - years ago. Flipping pages quickly to get to the end I then looked at the back cover to see who had praised it. The quotes of respected authors were there with one of them even recommending it as book of the year. That was a gentle reminder - once again - that many such quotes are just friendly ways of helping friends sell books. You have to read them at least a few grains of salt.
Oct 16, 2008 Hol added it
After a three-month hiatus, I returned to reading novels (yay!) with this brisk little book. It centers on a movie director whose creative process often feels more stable and tangible than his private life, which becomes increasingly strange and illusory as the story goes on. It’s also one of those oddball British comedies of manners in which the characters are totally flip about marital fidelity, parent-child relations, etc. yet regard art with life-and-death seriousness. Amusing, admirably ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Iva rated it liked it
A weak Muriel Spark is still worth something. She did seem out of touch somehow. Perhaps writing about the life of a movie director was too much of a stretch. Perhaps her strength is portraying life in London during and after the war (Girls of Slender Means for example.) Or perhaps Miss Brody in her prime was so remarkable that nothing else can measure up. But these characters didn't possess the presence or even the believability that informs her best work. My advice: pick another Spark please.
Oct 28, 2011 Lily rated it liked it
This book was and odd mix of mild/forgetable and intriguing. I read it quite quickly and enjoyed it while i was reading, but when i put it down i instantly forgot about, to the point where at one point when i thuoght, "i'm bored, i should read - oh yeah, what am i reading again? that book... but whats it about?"... which is not my usual relationship to books. By the end of it, it was more present in my mind and interesting. I'm not sure i'd go out of my way to recommend it to someone, but would ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Adl rated it liked it
Popularny reżyser Tom Richards spada z dźwigu podczas pracy nad swoim najnowszym dziełem „The hamburger girl”. I w zasadzie tyle mogę napisać o fabule, cała reszta to krewni i znajomi zachowujący się to odpowiedzialnie i jak na uczciwych obywateli przystało krytykując z brytyjską powściągliwością tych, którym zupełnie odbija (stąd morderstwa, zdrady i zniknięcia).
Czyta się świetnie, Dame Muriel jak zawsze błyskotliwa, tnie ostrzem ironii po ludzkich charakterach.
Persephone Abbott
Nov 17, 2011 Persephone Abbott rated it it was ok
As ever Muriel Spark's writing is engaging, here though personally I found the topic of her novel, the egotistical and vapid film world, less interesting. At times Spark shines through with acid remarks which made me laugh aloud and at times I could not wait to finish the book and be done with the boundary problems shared by the director, "his" actors and rich spouse.
Jun 04, 2011 Aras rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed most of this immensely, but I thought the ending just kind of petered out. The work might have been better without any story to it, rather than the one that was tacked on after about 100 pages.
Sep 10, 2015 Doreen rated it it was ok
didn't really like this one. good thing it is a very short story. though i do like this quote:
We are living in a world where dreams are reality and reality is dreams. In our world everything starts from a dream.
May 23, 2016 Alan rated it liked it
I have never read anything by Muriel Spark before and this caught my eye. In retrospect it may not have been the best place to start. It was enjoyable enough - shades of Martin Amis in a dark comedic way, but nothing fantastic.
May 11, 2014 Ang rated it really liked it
Are all movie producers/directors crazy? This book's characters were too interesting to not care about them, messed up as they were... .
Apr 22, 2013 scherzo♫ rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
foolish people following their desires without consideration for anyone else; some good writing wasted here
Nov 27, 2010 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction
I began this about ten years ago and didn't get very far. This time it still seemed to start slowly, but I began to like it reasonably soon.
Jan 18, 2010 Mdjb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What you might have come to expect from Muriel Spark; no more, no less, but I will probably read it again. It's thin and easy.
Indu Muralidharan
Indu Muralidharan rated it liked it
Feb 28, 2015
Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
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Micjael rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2011
Ed Hanson
Ed Hanson rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2015
Norman Hutchins
Norman Hutchins rated it it was ok
Sep 05, 2011
Linden rated it really liked it
Jun 14, 2012
Bookend My Life
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Jun 26, 2015
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  • Muriel Spark: The Biography
  • Dark Matter
  • El infierno musical
  • Portrait of an Eye: Three Novels
  • Bluebird and Other Tattoos
  • Brink
  • [one love affair]*
  • Bad Bad
  • The Foreign Legion
  • Nine Meals
  • Let Me Clear My Throat
  • Fast Machine
  • Tongue Party
  • A Misalliance
  • How To Kill Yourself
  • Dispatch from the Future: Poems
  • Ordinary Affects
  • Snowflake / different streets
Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eli
More about Muriel Spark...

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