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The Society of Others

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  355 ratings  ·  37 reviews
New fiction from the screenwriter of the Academy Award-winning Gladiator.

The nameless narrator of The Society of Others is an alienated youngster who sees no meaning in life. He doesn't even see the point of getting out of bed in the morning. To get his nagging family off his back he embarks on an aimless hitchhiking adventure. When he is picked up on the highway on the wa

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 18th 2005 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 648)
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Gail Winfree
I bought this advance reading copy of “The Society of Others” at the thrift store for 50 cents. I’d seen it on the shelf often, but always ignored it. Finally, I decided to buy it believing there was a reason it kept jumping out at me. It was a good purchase.

A young Englishman, probably in his early to mid 20s, narrates “The Society of Others.” His father is a successful writer, his mother is an art historian, and his sister is just a sister. The family is financially well-off. His father has me
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Caroline Alicia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David
Unnamed British youth, having completed his education, slouches about his bedroom, believing the world has nothing to offer him, and everything is pointless anyway.
Roused by his parents to do something he hitchhikes to an unnamed totalitarian eastern European country where the government and outlawed opposition seem to wish to outdo each other in brutality. Our 'hero' eventually falls in with a third non-violent intellectual group, based around a philosophical book written by their leader, 'A So
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Oriana
my sister, who never reads, is reading this book on her travels in South America. I am flabbergasted and ecstatic that she's taking the time to read at all, and I must have this book finished by the time she gets back.

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update: Welp, I'm really sad to have to take a break from Against the Day, but it must be done. This book looks like a quick read, tho, so hopefully I won't forget too much of Pynchon while I'm sidetracked.

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Natalia
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Toby Elliott
At first, I liked this brisk fable. I even enjoyed the maladapted, casually apathetic protagonist. As the story barreled along and twists showed themselves, I even enjoyed the Kafkaesque-indebted world-building.

Then the end showed its face, and this novel became another one of those overly-satisfied with itself reads, something which turns in on itself and becomes an ingrown hangnail and leaves nothing settled or even worth pondering.

Which is really too bad. This had a lot of promise. I feel lik
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Jordan Place
A young boy trying to figure out what he is going to do with his life and on a whim leaves his house only to end up in an unknown country. Crazy stuff happens and he is force to try and stay alive. I really want my brother to read this because he has no idea where to go from his current spot. I really like the book because with every horrible thing that happens you learn something that will surprise you. I didn't know a book could give me so many realizations until I read this book.
Alex Poulin
I enjoyed the story immensely, though I can agree with the detractors. The ending was a bit confusing, and abrupt, however, the nameless character has such a journey and changes throughout, only to suggest no real change at all. A refreshing change to the "traditional" coming-of-age story. Mr. Nicholson has no problem providing uncomfortable themes and actions without being gratuitous. GREAT READ and THOUGHT PROVOKING.
Sara
This book had some sort of otherworldly feel throughout, constantly keeping the reader wondering what is truly going on. Nicholson takes you for a ride, and once you've gotten off, you can still feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins and are left wondering exactly what happened and where. I don't like to give spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.
Sue
I thought that the first couple of chapters describing the narrator of the story were excellent. He is 22 years old and describes himself as having an average degree from an average university. He doesn't have a job and spends most of his time in his room. On a whim he decides to go travelling with no particular destination in mind.

From thence forward the story becomes more and more surreal and philosophical. I didn't really understand the ending I'm afraid. An enjoyable listen with lots of inte
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Derek Baldwin
Difficult to say exactly what this reminded me of, but it seemed somehow familiar. Maybe Steppenwolf, or Robert Pirsig, or Stalker (the film, by Tarkovsky) or even Figures In A Landscape (film with um wossname, that bloke in Jaws. Robert Shaw?). Anyway: this is a sort of existential road-trip with added Eastern European menace plus tableaux by Dutch Old Masters eg Pieter De Hooch.



But I quite enjoyed this and found it thought-provoking and intelligent stuff. The young hero's plight, lost in an un
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Eliza Victoria
I initially thought the ending was underwhelming given that amazing build-up, but upon reflection I thought – how else could it have ended? This novel is written by dramatist William Nicholson, who also co-wrote the script for Gladiator. You could clearly see the talent in the language. The plot is comparable to The Catcher in the Rye, only our Holden Caulfield in this story chooses to remain nameless, and experiences danger so real and so disconnected from his life that it has the power to eith ...more
~ Kolarić  LP ~
"Društvo drugih" je zanimljivo u zamisli: Gibson je pokušao napisati "egzistencijalni triler", odnosno roman - bolje reći novelu - koja je u isto vreme i politički triler, i akcija, i psihološko-filozofsko delo nabijeno sablasnom atmosferom. Iako se negde ovde zaista krije jedan solidan, ali dosadan triler koji bi mogao biti neprimećeni holivudski film, sve ostalo, a pod ostalim se podrazumeva ono psihološko-filozofsko, se urušava.

Dva su razloga zbog kojih je Nikolsonovo pisanje loše (ne neizraž
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Jeff Hrusko
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it does have its flaws. The best way to sum it up, imagine the Alchemist as written by Camus. Before reading this work, I read some review that stated the ending was confusing…usually when that happens, I’ve found the truth of it is pretty easy to uncover with a little digging.



This one. Not so much. It’s either my failing or the Arthurs, or a little of both. But, the ending has enough to it, enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, for me to re-read it sev
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Rebecca
It's an interesting read; the philosophical musings and references to philosophers took me back to Philosophy 101 in college. It reminded me of "Crimes and Misdemeanors," the film by Woody Allen, wherein each character represents a philosopher (the blind Rabbi is Aquinus 'the eyes of god'), and this book is similar. I tried to figure out which philosopher was represented by each character, and how the interaction propelled the protagonist. The plot is fast paced and flows well. The use of poetry ...more
Jerry Smallwood
I did enjoy this fast paced adventure feeling as though we are inside some depressed young English mind. I think this book will be interpreted differently by each reader. It seemed to me that our unnamed narrator commits suicide and stays in purgatory till he discovers who he was.
Steve
A flawed attempt at writing a modern-day kafkaesque novel of self-discovery which really loses momentum at the halfway stage. Nicholson has almost written the literature version of cinema's current crop of movies which have self-absorbed western teenagers brought to a nightmarish reality in a repressive eastern european society. Basically, the characters are so shallow and one -dimensional, you simply don;t care about the outcome. Then the novel slips into a post-modern surreal ending which is m ...more
Lula
Jun 02, 2008 Lula rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, it should be manditory reading
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
If you like Kafka or dig existentialism you will love this book! It is well written, thought provoking, and more than a little disturbing. This is a brilliant book! I read it in a day but think about it still. This book is about the many ways people deal with an oppressive government: passive resistance, secret communities, art and education, and terrorism. Who causes change? Who are the bad guys? How do you end the circle of violence? A very meaningful book for the times we live in.
Els
Op een avond begon ik deze roman te lezen en al gauw merkte ik dat ik niet meer kon stoppen, dat ik meegesleept werd. Wat een mooie zinnen rollen er uit Nicholsons pen en wat knap, zo schijnbaar moeiteloos als hij ernst met humor mengt, filosofie en avontuur bij elkaar brengt, balanceert tussen drama en ingetogenheid, de spanning weet op te voeren tot thrillerachtige proporties. Een prachtig boek, heel bijzonder in alle opzichten, een genot om te lezen!
Charnee
Philosophical and thought provoking in so many dimensions and its musical and poetic references make it a piece of art. In a nut shell, the story is written as a fast paced spy thriller with Paul Coelho meets Twilight zone. One might find more questions than answers and the ending may make you want to read it again but I will leave that personal journey to the reader. Pay attention the 1st time around and the story will all make sense.
Jenn
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, and am quite sure I feel as equally lost after completing it. The ending completely threw me for a loop and if I was asked to explain it I know that I couldn't.

And interesting concept, but not something I would probably recommend to any friends as the thought of having to discuss what I still don't understand makes my head spin.
Nick Duretta
Fascinating fable-like tale that has equal elements of Kafkaesque surrealism, philosophy and the pace of a thriller. The story unfolds gradually before you even notice its shift from a standard disaffected youth story to one of existential crisis. There's a lot to think about here. Demands a second read.
Bailey Meeker
This is a book that will make you think. One young man's journey from apathy to a new way of thinking about the world. Lost in a severely repressed country that is never named, he becomes engulfed in a struggle to understand the world and himself, even as he tries to find his way home.
Shaun
This is an interesting book. It's a bit like the TV show Lost, which is a bit of a puzzle. I enjoyed the trip the main character did during this book, although the ending was a bit lame for me.
David Cheshire
A way-out, semi-fantasy, dark, dream-like but oddly satisfying. A man goes on a journey but the self-discovery involved, although in one way literal, is unexpected and oddly moving.
Tamara Rickerts
Interesting. I probably should re-read it, maybe I would understand it better. Or maybe it isn't to be understood. There were some quotes I liked that I wish I had marked.
Blair Redfern
This was a book I saw in a secondhand book store that looked like so etching easy to read.
It blew me away.
One of the poems in it was so elegant it made me shiver
Annie
This was a strange little philosophical book about a boy going on a journey of self-discovery. I have no idea what happened at the end so it was a bit of a let-down.
Michelle
Jul 14, 2012 Michelle marked it as to-read-longterm
Shelves: fiction
Browsing my shelves today, I pulled out this and was compelled to open to the first page. The rest of the books to be entered must wait...I've got some reading to do.
rachelle
I liked this a lot. It's one I'd have to read six more times before I could give it a fair review, though. Wow.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story , both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March . In 1
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“In the midst of aches in the joints, anxiety over the payment of bills, concern for the safety of those you love, envy of the rich, fear of robbers, dog-weariness at the end of a long day, and the unacceptable slipping away of youth, there does occasionally appear, like a ray of light piercing the clouds, a moment of joy. Perhaps you have entered the house and sat down before removing your boots. A friend has pressed a drink into your hands, and is telling you the latest news. You see from his face that he's glad you've come in; and you are glad too. Glad to be sitting down, glad of the warming glow of the dirnk, glad of your friend's furrowed brow and eager speech. For this moment, nothing more is required. It is in its way unimprovable. This is what I mean by the Great Enough.” 18 likes
“Use your power gently.” 11 likes
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