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Paper Men

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  28 reviews

English novelist Wilfred Barclay, who has known fame, success, and fortune, is in crisis. He faces a drinking problem slipping over the borderline into alcoholism, a dead marriage, and the incurable itch of middle age lust. But the final, unbearable irritation is American Professor of English Literature Rick L. Tucker, who is implacable in his determinition to become The B

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Hardcover, 191 pages
Published April 1st 1984 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1984)
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Julie Barichello
This book is worth reading just to make it to the last line.

Although at times the story dragged with Wilf's narration and introspection (and occasional vague descriptions that required rereading a paragraph), and although during the last two chapters I simply wanted the book to conclude already, the final line made me legitimately LOL — I could not suppress laughing at the simple brilliance of how William Golding concluded the destructive spiral between Wilf Barclay and Rick Tucker.

This is a qu
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Jillian
Beautifully crafted, with striking descriptions of alcoholism, paranoia, writing, and the farce that is life in general. I'm hunting down more Golding immediately.
Jonathan
Writing review of books I hate is so much fun, I might have to do more of it (see my review of The Alchemist). I only made it through half of this book, and that was giving it more of a chance than it deserved. This guy is really a Nobel Laureate in literature? Really? This is one of his later works, and I know he wrote Lord of the Flies, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was in decline at this point--although he did write a Booker Prize winning trilogy after this, apparent ...more
Imbyr Unfortunately
I didn't even finish this garbage. There are already too many books about old white men complaining about how their lives are empty. I'm sure the end resolves in him either having an epiphany or continuing to be a dick. Either way, I can't bring myself to give a shit about this sorry old piteous sod of a character.
Sead
A turgid and completely inconsequential door-stop by an otherwise significant writer, blunt and devoid of aesthetic or intellectual quality and a waste of 4 hours which would have been more productively spent drinking a pint of bleach and dying a slow death while being orally molested by the two orange tinted, rabidly dancing old men wailing the garbage infested burlesque babble of the popular musical ditty 'hey Macarena'. Lest we should fear digression, this is a suspiciously self-apologetic mo ...more
Freder
Sharp, hard and deeply mean-spirited.
Mickey
Bleak, depressing, riotously funny, and full of savage truths about the writer's life. A stark and metaphorical look at alcoholism, fame, obsession, lust, and aging. A short novel, this one by Golding is most memorable for it's crusty voice spouting dark wisdom and an incredible final sentence.
Gregory Fullard
This book took ages to read. It is most emphatically NOT a page turner. Great last paragraph, but my goodness it was painful to finally get there. It reminds me of that line in Eurotrip: "I watched a gay porno once. The girls never came! The girls never came!"
Aaron Ellis
Like a Kingsley Amis novel, but with a theological bent, and a building sense of impending doom that reminded me of the final season of 'The Sopranos'. I would've given it five stars if Wilfred's breakdown had been just a little bit shorter.
Callie
I have never read Lord of the Flies, or anything else by him...This book made me uncomfortable. He is certainly not easy on himself, I'm assuming the narrator is a very close version of him. He is not afraid to depict this man as unloving and unlovable. The ending is like no ending I've read before. Could be really cheesy in the hands of a lesser writer. Ultimately I am thinking he tossed this off to let off steam about something that was really happening in his own life. By that I mean, being p ...more
Rosalie Oliver
Okay, it's not that it's badly written I quite liked the language, it's just that the main character was so detestable that this was really hard to read. I persisted for the shock ending which was short and sharp but alas not really worth the pain of the journey to get there.
Frankie
I was surprised by how much I disliked this book, though Golding is one of my favorites. Granted, I've only read his earlier work till now...

The characters were strong, and understandably so – as the narrator is the writer. Golding always develops people definitively through their prospective vices. I enjoyed the duality of the main c. and his (possibly autobiographical) social spite. As well, the plot was original and intriguing.

There are, however, serious problems with continuity, character mo
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Jacob
A writer writing about a selfish, cynical, unhappy, and loveless alcoholic writer? Who could imagine such a thing?

It's a bit breezy and I got the feeling Golding owed his publishers a book and wrote this one. That isn't to say it's bad - it is actually humorous at times and well constructed but uninspired. One major thing that got to me was that Wilf should have had more respect for Rick. I realize Rick's a critic, and writers are incapable of admitting respect for critics in print, but it's no
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Sergei_kalinin
Очень странная книга... Стилистически - это, несомненно, шедевр. Идеально воспроизводится "поток сознания" писателя: а) стареющего; б) отравленного алкоголем; в) пережившего инсульт; г) переживающего распад собственной личности.

По смыслу и содержанию - эта книга про ненависть и нетерпимость, про то, как люди используют других людей, предают себя (бегут от себя), от любви и близких. Несмотря на обилие черного юмора - тяжелая книга, грустная и страшная. Написанная Мастером...

Vincent A.
William Golding's brilliant character study is an easy, enjoyable journey from beginning to end. The story follows its flawed hero, with a persistent sycophant in pursuit, as he travels - and perhaps flees - across Europe, dropping the baggage of his life along the way. "The Paper Men" is charming, comical and just a little dangerous. Mr. Golding offers more than one surprise to titillate the reader and set the stage for "The Paper Men's" unexpected ending.
Kari Ramadorai
Surprisingly good for a book that started so very depressingly. The characters are all a little abhorrent, and I still wonder if there was indeed a grad student chasing William Golding around trying to be his memoir author. But overall it started getting interesting about half way through. The book stopped the navel gazing and started psychological drama. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a well turned phrase with some intrigue behind it.
Alexis
I greatly enjoyed the scene between Rick L. Tucker and Wilf Barclay when the idea of the biography is first proposed and Wilf is revisiting all of his lowest moments. It is well written and compelling and made me wonder why we only ever read or hear about Lord of the Flies. By the end I didn't wonder so much, but at the start I was very impressed.
Bungz
It is a story of a washed out, alcoholic author and his want-to-be biographer.

Was a very slow read, and annoying at times because of the pace. Perhaps it was meant to be to: to convey in more than words the mood of the narrator. I liked Golding's writing style. And the way he finished the book was a class act.
Amy Bennett


A surprisingly good read after a bleak start for me. Horrendous characters but portrayed unflinchingly. Exposure to the mess and grottiness of society and human interactions. Took me a while to get through but worth it in the end.
Jennifer
Though slow at points (at at under 200 pages, it was never slow for long), this novel had some delicious black humor. It was rather War of the Roses, and I could envision it played out like a movie.
Rachel Lindan
Sharp, wry and of a pleasingly gathering offbeat pace, I have a feeling I will appreciate this book much more as a reread when I'm considerably older. For now, 3.5 stars.
Sarah
I could not even finish this book! I hope it did not turn out to be great at the end because I could not get through half of it.
Aaron
Interesting insight into the life of a writer. Too bad a bunch of self loathing came along for the ride.
Peter
A sad book in the end although humourous and insightful along the way. Thank goodness it's short.
Lisbeth Solberg
Very talky. Interesting enough, but not very emotionally engaging, and ultimately disappointing.
the mad hatter
this one too
Zcm
Dec 28, 2009 Zcm marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
good book
Ridge Briel
Ridge Briel marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2015
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Sir William Gerald Golding was a British novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. He was awarded the Booker Prize for literature in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book of the trilogy To the Ends of the Earth. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 and was knighted by the Queen of England in 1988.

In 2008, The Times ranked Golding
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More about William Golding...
Lord of the Flies Rites of Passage (To the Ends of the Earth, #1) The Inheritors Pincher Martin The Spire

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