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Afternoon Men

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  16 reviews
"Afternoon Men" follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the "glamorous" life."Afternoon Men" provides an important perspective on the development of one ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Sun and Moon Press (first published 1931)
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Powell's first novel differs in tone from his Dance cycle. The social milieu is much the same; intellectuals and artists float about between depressing parties and country houses. And the plot is again cyclical; while that character was created through metaphor and imagery in Dance, here it is simply the fact that the first and last scenes occur in a private club and conclude with an invitation to a party. The mood is much bleaker, however. The protagonist seems to have no purpose or real enjoym ...more
Most people who reviewed this book on Goodreads found more in it than I did. Typically I'm drawn to books where very little happens and what does happen has to be parsed from elliptical clues. However, I felt this particular story lacked bite. You have a mildly unappealing set of characters, who dabble in painting, work in a museum, or have a private income. Although they don't care much about each other, and sleep with whoever is at hand indiscriminately, they form a tight-knit coterie, hang ab ...more
I first heard about Afternoon Men when I stumbled upon an online review that described the book as "the funniest book you will ever read." A few of my favorite books we pretty damn funny (A Confederacy of Dunces, Catch 22, most Vonnegut books) so I figured this book was worth reading. I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect other than it should be funny. It was an engaging, quick, read despite the fact that nothing really happens for most of the book. I finished the book liking i ...more
A very funny book in which absolutely nothing happens. I read some criticism of it while reading up on literature of the 1930s and thought it sounded unbelievably bleak, but somehow I was amused rather than depressed. The characters want very little, do even less, and even the climactic bits are entirely anti-climactic -- very telling in a novel from 1931.
Tom Tiding
Afternoon Men is written nearly wall-to-wall with dialogue, such that you have to piece together what's actually happening from the bits and pieces you overhear. Characters speak in understatements and half-truths, so it can take some getting used to.

But the characters and the book are so clever-- I wanted them to be my clever friends, although I'm sure some people will find them awfully tedious. There aren't many sympathetic characters, and Powell doesn't give away any of their emotional depth
Powell's novel is funny and cynical. His characters will not arouse any sympathy from the reader, however you cannot put this book down.
The chapter when the characters argue about the appropriateness of having lunch when you know your host just committed suicide is hysterical, and having the hero pretend to have only a little to eat to fein compassion is never-seen. The characters are unpleasant but they are true, they are selfish but we understand why. That's all I was asking from Powell.
It's impressive how much mileage this guy can get out of a hardly-rollicking plotline and page after page of banal dialog. It shouldn't work, and yet it's absorbing and darkly funny and even kind of deep for those of us who like to ascribe depth to things that look on the surface like nothing has happened.

Also, this is an extremely quick read, ideal for someone halfway through a brick-like book she's too busy to concentrate on but still wanting to actually finally read something start to finish.
A pointless book about pointless people. I realize it's a satire something something modern attitudes something something, and it is well-written and witty, but it's still fairly pointless. Maybe some of Powell's other books involve more interesting people.
Mike Wigal
1930s between the wars Britain. People doing nothing. Kind of a written pre-Seinfeld. The characters were simultaneously engaging and insipid. They were all probably killed in the Blitz.
Posh people do nothing very slowly. So why do I love this book? I really don't know, but it really is a gem. Now I want to read everything else he wrote....
Feb 02, 2015 Brian rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
Sort of a cross between The Importance of Being Earnest and Waiting for Godot. Clever at times, but not often, and the satire seemed overdone.
It's an episode of Seinfeld, if Seinfeld was a 30's British painter.
Aaron Ellis
A book every Millennial ought to read.
I found this book at a used book store in Minneapolis. Anthony Powell is one of my favorite writers, so I bought it. I think it was one of his earlier books, published in 1931. Just finished it. I liked it, of course. The dry wit, the recording of conversations -- you want to read more and more (and if you do, there's always his massive "Dance to the Music of Time." The protagonist's love affair reminded me of one I had in college, where you couldn't seem to find a way to where you wanted to go.
Apr 15, 2013 Ken marked it as to-read
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Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
More about Anthony Powell...
A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) A Dance to the Music of Time: 3rd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 4th Movement

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“Slowly, but very deliberately, the brooding edifice of seduction, creaking and incongruous, came into being, a vast Heath Robinson mechanism, dually controlled by them and lumbering gloomily down vistas of triteness. With a sort of heavy-fisted dexterity the mutually adapted emotions of each of them became synchronised, until the unavoidable anti-climax was at hand. Later they dined at a restaurant quite near the flat.” 0 likes
“I don’t dislike him because he’s a Jew,’ said Mr. Nunnery. ‘One can’t dismiss whole races at a time.’ ‘He’s all right.’ ‘You’d hardly know he was a Jew.’ ‘Oh, no. Hardly at all.” 0 likes
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