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Spider

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,020 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Spider is gaunt, threadbare, unnerved by everything from his landlady to the smell of gas. He tells us his story in a storm of beautiful language that slowly reveals itself as a fiendishly layered construction of truth and illusion. With echoes of Beckett, Poe, and Paul Bowles, Spider is a tale of horror and madness, storytelling and skepticism, a novel whose dizzying styl ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 8th 1991 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,854)
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Mike
Sep 29, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is the author’s second novel and third book (following on the collection “Blood and Water and Other Tales” and his debut novel “The Grotesque”). At least for the moment, I am reading his works in the order of publication. I thought that the short stories were very good and fit their lengths well. As noted in my review, I liked “The Grotesque”, but thought that I could have appreciated it more. After more reflection, in addition to the reasons previously cited, I think that it was not suited ...more
Simona
"Spider" è lontano anni luce da "Follia", l'altro romanzo di Mcgrath che considero il suo capolavoro.
"Spider" è un viaggio nel mondo della follia, delle allucinazioni, un viaggio nella psicosi. Un viaggio nella mente malata, le turbe psichiche di uno schizofrenico. Non è facile leggere un libro del genere, a causa delle continue regressioni tra presente e passato e il lettore non può che prendere atto di ciò che legge, scivola sempre più nello stesso baratro del protagonista, finendo per farsi
...more
Cora Lockhart
Unfortunately, this is one of those books that I had not heard of until I inadvertently discovered the movie, which was pretty stellar as well and this may or may not have something to do with Ralph Fiennes! It was difficult as I read the book not to picture him in it, and this is one of the reasons I like reading books before seeing the movie, but this did not distract from its odd beauty. It's a story that revolves around a schizophrenic known as Spider. That he earned this name from his mothe ...more
Ann
This was an amazing book -- very well written and made me very uncomfortable -- but impossible to put down.

It starts off as the journal of a man who obviously has some psychiatric issues and is living in a halfway house in the East End of London in the 1950s after completing 20 years in a prison psychiatric hospital. Gradually through his journal, you find out about his childhood, his living situation now and his wandering to fill his days back to the old allotments (gardens) and by the canal, b
...more
Lara
I hated this book. I wish I could give it 1/2 a star. I quit half way through...I couldn't read any more. No matter if I read just one page or even a paragraph...when I put this book down I felt nothing but gloom. I tried to finish it to see where the story was going but I couldn't get past the awful feel the book gave out. Maybe that is what it was going for...if so...it's not something I want to read. Ever. Ick. Half the time I couldn't tell if what I was reading was in the present or the past ...more
Kelanth, numquam risit ubi dracones vivunt
Lento, lento, lento. Scopo dell’autore credo che sia quello di coinvolgere il lettore in una spirale di paranoie, incubi e allucinazioni per portarlo da un inizio dove tutto sembra essere normale, a un finale dove tutto è allucinazione e schizofrenia. Solo che secondo il mio modesto parere, non solo non riesce nell’intento ma porta a una noia che solo le poche pagine del libro non convince il lettore ad abbandonare la lettura. Si va avanti navigando in mezzo agli incubi del protagonista, scenden ...more
Abailart
Ah!!! Finished today in the park under hot black clouds and suspicious winds like gas, ducks changing shape before they rotted before my eyes. Well, I feel wretched having finished the thing. The thing is, the thing is not there, you cannot put your finger on any thing that is not there but looms dark and loud.. Tricks of light and shandow and shifting as the narrator rots before your eyes and ears, and his guts strapped to his spine so as to clear a dark space hollow and full of sinister plumbi ...more
Thais
Avendo letto Follia, sapevo più o meno cosa aspettarmi da McGrath: una lenta discesa nella pazzia, appunto, l'analisi dei pensieri di un uomo malato, forse una vittima, forse un assassino, sicuramente una persona estremamente disturbata. E così è stato.
Solo che Spider non è riuscito a coinvolgermi come speravo. Sì, è un viaggio nella mente di un pazzo, sì, fa capire che la realtà non è sempre univoca, sì, le sue ossessioni e allucinazioni sono ben tratteggiate. Eppure qualcosa mi ha lasciata piu
...more
Steph
A young man figuring on his mother's death in the midst of madness, obsession and minute detail. Nothing here for me.
Wells Oliver
A riveting internal tale told by the most unreliable of unreliable narrators. The novel's center, Spider, Dennis Clegg, trapped in his own mind, works through what may or may not have happened to him as a child to land him in an asylum and then a care home. He recounts the passing of his mother and his growing suspicion at, well, everything, as he tries to reason through his schizophrenic hallucinations and perceived persecutions and mounting horror. The narrative is terse and poetic in an auste ...more
May
First Sentence: "I've always found it odd that I can recall incidents from my boyhood with clarity and precision, and yet events that happened yesterday are blurred, and I have no confidence in my ability to remember them accurately at all."

This was a tale of Schizophrenia cleverly told in the voice of the schizophrenic himself. It started innocently enough until Spider, who, as a thirteen year old boy, started to lose the fine line between reality and madness. In doing so, he also dragged this
...more
Simo.sca
..più mezza stella per l'abilità dello scrittore di trascinare il lettore nella mente annebbiata di uno schizofrenico, di spingerlo nel labirinto confuso della sua vita, dove l’unica speranza, trasmessa dal protagonista al lettore, sembra essere quella di ritrovare un qualsiasi filo conduttore che possa portarlo alla verità.

Ma la realta’ non è mai quella che appare, perchè si confonde tra le sue allucinazioni visive e sonore e le sue presunte azioni; e più ci si addentra nella mente di Spider, t
...more
Callie
I read this book nearly ten years ago and so I can't remember it well enough to give it a proper review. What I can remember is that it is CRAZY SCARY. Literally. The protagonist is a lunatic. This book is so powerful, it sinks into your skin and you'll never be able to rid yourself of it. Beware! I read it because I was stuck on an island with hardly any books, so I had to take what I could get, otherwise I probably would have been too afraid to stick with it.
Jail
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helen
This story is told from the mind of a 30-somthign man, Dennis Clegg, recently returned to London, where he has not been for 20 years. Living in a halfway house, he spends his time alone on walks as well as recounting his childhood which led to him being taken away from London.

This story is beautifully written. You find out very quickly that Dennis is not all there but you cannot bring yourself to hate this character. The narrator brings you into his web of illusion and you come out feeling just
...more
Kimbofo
I read Patrick McGrath’s Spider— first published in 1990 — back-to-back with Nathan Filer’s Shock of the Fall. Both books are about mental illness, but McGrath’s is written in a more eloquent, old-fashioned, literary style, and left a far deeper impression on me. I don’t say this lightly, but it’s perhaps the best book I’ve read all year.

The Spider of the title is Dennis Cleg, a troubled man who has returned to London from Canada, where he has been living for the past 20 years. He now resides in
...more
Clint
!!!!!!GREAT GODDAMIGHTY THIS KICKED ASS!!!!!! This is the fifth book I've read by Patrick McGrath, and the dude has yet to let me down. Spider is another of his unreliable-narrator, Edgar Alan Poe-ish, modern gothic masterpieces, with just the barest fringe of black-as-Satan's-turds humor to keep everything in perspective. This guy is an absolute master at what he does, and he even uses exclamation marks on almost every page, and they all work.

Spider, like Dr Haggard's Disease, is told from the
...more
Kat Gair
Very hard to describe this book,a journey of madness where you are never quite sure of what is reality or what is the schizophrenic ramblings of spider but I loved it it was my kind of book,very dark not always easy and at times made uncomfortable reading living in the mind of the deterioration of spider,I don't think it's for everyone but definitely for me a 4 star read.
Felicia
Wonderfully macabre story. Very beautifully written, disturbing, and fiendish. Reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." It is a story of truth and illusion, and the psychological unravelling of a mad man. Recommended if you enjoy psychological horror, classical horror, and if you're a fan of Poe's works.
Jgknobler
A London man, who may or may not have witnessed his father murdering his mother, is released from a long stint in a psychiatric hospital and begins to go mad. Atmospheric (rain, rain) and chilling.
Amelia
it almost drove me crazy,reading the book.maybe it did,cause it was so deeply in my thoughts,i even felt spider crawling on my skin and in my hair.i wanted it to end quickly,but didn't want to quit reading,so finishing was a relief,and fear too.fear for those little spiders having such life,and never living it.
Cathy
Mar 12, 2010 Cathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: to serious readers
Recommended to Cathy by: I saw it on the bookshelf
This is rather an odd, but sad story. It's about a young boy and his tragic life. His mother, who he loves, dies. He is left with his father and his new wife who neither love him and wish that he wasn't there. He is ignored, lonely, afraid and unhappy. One of the reviewers describes it as "Disturbing, wholly absorbing...a combination murder mystery / dark-night-of-the-soul...touchingly, menancingly brilliant" (Chicago Tribune). It's also described as a tale of horror and madnessand as a psycholo ...more
Laura Neu
Though contemporary, Spider is utterly gothic in tale and in style. Reminiscent of Poe, McGrath pulls the reader so deeply into the mind of an unstable, unreliable, schizophrenic narrator such that we are left reeling right alongside him.
Rich Cresswell
Set in a London halfway house in 1957, this book is the journal of an obviously disturbed man who calls himself "Spider." A mix of observation, memories, and consistent ambiguities, it's an intriguing and absolutely disturbing account of a life led haunted by one's self.

I had seen David Cronenberg's film adaptation a long time ago, but it didn't compare to reading it, poring through the oddball sentence structure and trying to get to the truth, which is nearly impossible in a book that is the j
...more
Rick Rowland
F@#!ing stupid! Well written? Sure. But still f@$!ing stupid.
Wendy Harwood
I watched the movie "Spider" starring Ralph Fiennes (who played the role perfectly) prior to reading the book. I feel this was a smart move. It made the book easier to follow. I feel I need to give Mr. Patrick McGrath another try and read another one of his books. I did find "Spider" imparticularly the ending very confusing in the book; however, the ending in the movie was sensible/more of a closure.
Daniel Alvarado
Confieso que vi la película antes de leer la novela, Cronenberg realizó un trabajo genial a diferencia con lo hecho con Crash de J.G.Ballard la ultima me parecio sin rumbo, meramente iconica y hasta ahi.
Al leer Spider me lleno de igual modo que al ver la cinta
la atmosfera es lo que valoro más ya que al ir navegando entre lineas este factor te transporta a la cinta y esta a su vez al libro.
Tracy
i like patrick mcgrath, but i recommend asylum or dr. hagard's disease for better treatments of insanity from the inside out. but i don't really blame mcgrath, instead it was just that the cronenberg film made a deeper impact on me than this cold book and i knew the ending at the start.
Dan
one of those books i read a ways back---it didn't help that I had read this right after another book that left me in a foul mood.
Anyway, this is one of those I mean to re-read. McGrath is a solid writer and can vouch for the skill on hand.
Mfisher
the book was okay, but I didn't love it. Preferred Asylum to this one...found this to be too drawn out, too dark, too "all-over-the-place"...but at the same time, a very interesting look into someone with a mental illness.
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Patrick McGrath was born on 7th February, 1950 in London and grew up near Broadmoor Hospital where his father was Medical Superintendent. He was educated at Stonyhurst College. He is a British novelist whose work has been categorized as gothic fiction. He is married to actress Maria Aitken and lives in New York City.
More about Patrick McGrath...
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“All was strange in a fog, buildings grew vague, human beings groped and became lost, the landmarks, the compass points, by which they navigated melted into nothingness and the world was transfigured into a country of the blind. But if the sighted became blind, then the blind - and for some odd reason I have always regarded myself as one of the blind - the blind became sighted, and I remember felling at home in the fog, happily at ease in the murk and gloom that so confused my neighbors.” 8 likes
“Люблю сырость таких дней, сырость, сумрак и густые серые тучи, потому что лишь в такую погоду чувствую себя в ладу с миром.” 3 likes
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