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Little Hands Clapping

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,070 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
In a room above a bizarre German museum, and far from the prying eyes of strangers, lives the Old Man. Caretaker of the museum by day, by night he enjoys the sound of silence, broken by the occasional crunch of a spider between his blackened teeth. Little Hands Clapping brings together the Old Man with the respectable Doctor Ernst Frohlicher, his greedy dog Hans and a cast ...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Canongate UK (first published 2002)
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Nancy Oakes
Feb 15, 2010 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uk-fiction
If you read this book based solely on my recommendation (which you should not do), I don't want you coming back to me if you hate it and saying something like "you are one sick puppy." To be really blunt, I tend to march to a different drummer in life as it is, and I gravitate toward the quirky and the offbeat when it's put out there.

On the surface, this book is gruesome and at times a bit sick, but if you want a book that's highly original, one that offers something you'll probably never read
Nov 14, 2011 Melki rated it really liked it
Hmm...this is a difficult book to review without giving too much away.

A very strange curator runs a most unusual museum.

A doctor cures the sick and freezes the dead.

A woman is so obsessed with an opera singer, she transforms her husband into his likeness.

A housekeeper has a dark secret she cannot wash away.

A young couple is fated to be together, until life gets in the way.

They all inhabit this very black, wildly imaginative comedy, which features magical moments, and the very happiest of endings
Jul 01, 2011 Helen rated it really liked it
This felt like the strangest fairy tale I've ever read, but featuring a German suicide museum - hysterical! No, really, it was funny in a 'League of Gentlemen' sort of way. Grim and horribly hilarious, I could not put this down and read it in less than a day, I have to find more by Rhodes.
Angus McKeogh
Feb 25, 2017 Angus McKeogh rated it it was ok
Technically this should probably have been one star. The Granta recommendation. The cover (yes I was snowed by that one). The inside flap description. The numerous glowing reviews. And ultimately I didn't like it. And that's one star on this website. I cobbled together the rest of these variables and the fact that it was written well and added a meager piece of a star that bumped it to two. But honestly the story was boring, completely disjointed and nonsensical for the first 2/3 of the book, an ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Mar 07, 2010 David Hebblethwaite rated it really liked it
My introduction to Dan Rhodes was his previous novel, 2007’s Gold, which I enjoyed very much; enough that I needed no persuading to seek out a copy of his latest work. Little Hands Clapping is very different in subject matter, but unmistakably the work of the same author; and, as I read, I began to see deeper similarities. Perhaps more than usual, I find my thoughts about the present book coloured by those I had of the earlier; in that light, I’m a little less satisfied with Little Hands Clappin ...more
Based on the illustrations I've seen, Little Hands Clapping is very Edward Gorey-esque in spirit. Not particularly sick, just macabre and definitely not something that should be labelled as horror. Dark humour is a tricky thing, but for the most part Rhodes succeeds in making the museum a comical place without it seeming crass or tacky. The ridiculous reason the doctor had for doing what he did somehow made perfect sense in Rhodes's universe, where even the most respectable pillars of a small co ...more
Nov 28, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it
This is not a perfect book. The climax comes a little quickly at least it felt like that. It might have simply been me turning the pages at a ferocious rate to see what was going to happen next. I’m not sure. Once we’re there and we find out the fate of the doctor and the old man there only remains the dénouement and that wasn’t hard to guess but thankfully Rhodes doesn’t drag it out. The final i‘s are dotted and t’s crossed and everything ends neatly as all the best fairy stories do.

Before sitt
Caleb Wilson
Mar 28, 2012 Caleb Wilson rated it it was amazing
Reminds me a bit of a Charles Addams cartoon in prose. It's very funny, and not entirely gallows humor: I'd say that only about 75% of the times I laughed aloud it was over something fairly sick. Between gems of the macabre, the book is packed with straight-facedly presented segments wherein Rhodes finds the humor in such subjects as doctors, museums, municipal water supply, spider ingestion, and the Pied Piper. His mock-melodramatic modern Biedermeier dialogue is also genius.
Sheenagh Pugh
Feb 22, 2010 Sheenagh Pugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
In many ways this is typical Rhodes - the fairytale format that allows him to mix real and fantastic, to create archetypal characters and to point morals. And it has his usual seamlessly flowing style, though the humour is more gothic than usual. In fact there's no point in denying that the subject matter will be too gruesome for some tastes: the doctor, one of his two main characters, has a hobby which is taboo in all civilised societies and tends to make people feel ill.

The other main characte
Mar 05, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing
You can also find my review of Little Hands Clapping on my book blog.

Little Hands Clapping is a novel that is quite unlike anything I've read recently. Told as a dark fairy tale, it has been compared to the movies of Tim Burton - although I am not sure the comparison is entirely valid.

Largely set in a Museum of Suicides in Germany, it tells the stories of the old man who works there, a doctor, a young couple of unusually beautiful villagers in Portugal, and various other people. Some drift in an
Sep 22, 2012 Kristen rated it did not like it
This is a very strange book. The best word I can use to describe it is morbid. Creepy would also work. I can't say I enjoyed it, although it did have a bit of the "can't look away from a train-wreck" feel to it, which is why I continued reading as long as I did, which was about two-thirds of the way through before I was just too disturbed to go all the way to the end.

Basically, the book is about death, specifically suicide, and while I can't give too much explanation about the plot without ruini
Kris McCracken
Jan 17, 2012 Kris McCracken rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A plot synopsis? Set primarily in a German museum dedicated to suicide – created by a well-meaning woman obsessed by Luciano Pavarotti – and features a cast of colourful characters: a dangerously apathetic polyglot caretaker; a child-abuse survivor turned cleaner (convinced that she is damned to hell); numerous nameless people of various nationalities driven to ending their lives; a psychopathic GP with a tragic past, very peculiar tastes and a chubby Black Labrador named Hans; a Portuguese male ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dan-rhodes
Chi si aspetta una storia per teenager pseudo-emo ha sbagliato libro.
La fantasia tendente al malato di Rhodes ci trasporta in un universo incredibile eppure anche realistico; la perversione e il cinismo ci accompagnano fino all'ultima pagina della storia.
In questo libro si intrecciano le storie di svariate persone: il vecchio custode del museo, la donna delle pulizie del suddetto museo, un dottore, una giovane donna... sono molteplici le sfumature dei sentimenti che è possibile trovare in ques
Nov 21, 2011 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Non lasciatevi ingannare dalle prime due parti del libro, quando sarete tentati di piantarlo lì. Anche se vi darà fastidio il fatto che fin dall’inizio pericolosi “fast forward” vi stiano anticipando il finale, non fateci caso e proseguite. Lo so che sembra non succedere granchè e che l’attesa per il colpo di scena sembra eterna, ma nel frattempo gustatevi le incursioni nella vita dei vari personaggi, imparate a conoscerli e tenete alto l’umore con le loro bizzarrie. Lungo il percorso sorrideret ...more
I haven't had the pleasure of reading anything by Dan Rhodes before so I wasn't sure what to expect from his writing, but I absolutely loved this. Set in a German town, the Old Man works in a niche themed museum where he endures the daily grind and attempts to do as little work as possible until he is finally able to retire and be left happily alone. However, the nature of the museum ensures that he has a lot of work to do after hours, but luckily an eager doctor called Ernst Frohlicer is more t ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Guardian book reviews
A very odd little book, filled with eccentric characters and black humour, but its oddity is what makes it captivating.

Set around a museum of suicides set up by its proprietress to try and put people off the idea, this doesn't always work and quite often is chosen as the site of suicide instead. When this occurs, the old man who curates the museum and the local doctor have a tidy little arrangement to remove the bodies with as little fuss as possible. However, it turns out that the good doctor i
Jul 28, 2015 Fatima rated it really liked it
Highly disturbing, don't let the cover fool you! It took a little while to get into it and you have to pay attention to which story is being told as there are multiple story lines happening at the same time or being told at the same time even if it is from the past. BUT it's pretty good and towards the end you really get into how it all ends and what happens. The beginning you don't really know what's going on and then you kinda start figuring out but the the main story line is out of order so y ...more
Jeffrey Otto
Feb 19, 2012 Jeffrey Otto rated it really liked it
This is a terrific story told in the most charming of manners. The absurd humor and matter-of-fact narration had me laughing aloud throughout the book. The old man, with his long grey fingers and ethos of lassitude, is an especially wonderful character. One of the satisfying themes that emerges is the contrast between provincial village life and the contemporary urban milieu. Agree or disagree, Rhodes proves himself wholly unafraid to brazenly scrape his nails across the chalkboard finish of the ...more
Terry Mark
Jan 18, 2015 Terry Mark rated it it was amazing
This book is probably one of the funniest novels I've ever read if not the funniest.It's a rather sad and tragic story at times and the subject matter is horribly sick. But it's filled with great characters and overflowing with black humour.I was reading it on a train and I was attempting to keep my laughter in, in the disbelief of what I was reading and the tears of laughter were running down my face.If the rest of Dan Rhodes's books are anywhere near as good as this one they'll be worth readin ...more
Feb 12, 2016 Cosey rated it it was amazing
Wat een fantastisch boek! Maf verhaal, perfect geschreven en het duister kantje maakt het helemaal af. Onbegrijpelijk dat het boek niet hoger scoort, want het leest als een trein en het is ondanks de gruwelijkheid erg grappig. Vooral fans van ironie komen hier helemaal aan hun trekken.
Heel benieuwd naar zijn andere werken!
Sep 08, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
Dan Rhodes is in top form with his latest novel. It's disturbing, dark, bittersweet, etc. Great fun to read.
Feb 02, 2017 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Dan Rhodes book I have read in the last twelve months and he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. So I am left wondering why he is not better known. Then I consider how black this book is and how disquieting and yet so very funny, then I realise why he may remain ‘niche’ for some time to come. This is a book unlike anything else you are likely to come across.

The subject matter of this novel is something that is rarely touched on (particularly so directly) in modern lit
Freya Maenhout
Jan 23, 2017 Freya Maenhout rated it it was ok
I bought this book a long time ago because I was drawn to the cover and the raving reviews on the front and the back. I remember I started reading it back then, but for some reason I couldn't get past the first spider-eating scene which is only three pages in. I finally went back to it after seeing it in an English bookstore being praised years later. Now that I finished it I find "Little Hands Clapping" a nice and relaxing read, but in my opinion there was nothing "glorious," "mordantly funny" ...more
Red Kedi
Nov 20, 2013 Red Kedi rated it liked it
Cinque vite che si intrecciano, raggruppate in un solo libro.
Cinque storie, più o meno di spicco, raccontate al presente, al passato e al futuro.
Questo libro è un miscuglio di tempi, persone, emozioni, sogni e lati oscuri.
Se qualcuno mi chiedesse se vale la pena di leggerlo, la mia risposta sarebbe si, facendo presente però che non sarà certo un capolavoro.
Dalla trama, una persona, pensa di trovare mostri terribili all’interno del museo, che fanno del male alla gente. Vero in parte.
Dopo poch
Alloraaa che dire di questo romanzo? Innanzitutto ringrazio di non averci speso soldi, e poi sottolineo il fatto che non è una storia adatta a bambini e ragazzi, visto che il retro del romanzo fa intendere che si tratti di una favola creepy...quindi io ho ingenuamente pensato che fosse qualcosa in stile Tim Burton.
No. Non lo è.
È di sicuro un accozzaglia di roba non riuscita. Partiamo dal fatto che la storia ruota attorno ad un dottore cannibale che si nutre dei cadaveri delle persone che si su
Serene Kwek
Mar 08, 2017 Serene Kwek rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Nov 28, 2011 Sutha rated it really liked it
A fairy tale love story wrapped in an ominous veil of death.

Just to be clear – this IS a love story, but suicide is at its centre. Or at least loss, apathy and unfulfilled expectations are. These drive people to visit the little Museum dedicated to prevent suicide that instead has the opposite effect upon its visitors. The delectably misanthropic Museum curator’s irritation at any semblance of a distraction from his routine ensures, with the help of an endearing doctor with peculiar tastes, t
Jun 05, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
How is it possible to read a book that involves cannibalism, suicide, freezing dead bodies, and go "Awwww!!!" when you get to the end?!

I don't know how Dan Rhodes has been off my radar up to now, because this is exactly the type of book I relish finding. It's wonderfully descriptive, it's like nothing I've ever read before, and if it's not adapted into some kind of stop-motion film at some stage I'll be very, very surprised.

The premise is simple, but strange - there is a museum dedicated to suic
Feb 17, 2010 Leon rated it it was amazing
I was waiting to get my hands on this novel for ages, ie, when I first read about it sometime last year. I had a very nice surprise when I collected my copy at Kino. It cost ten pounds but it was a hardback, and with 20% off, a great bargain, as well.

I love reading ebooks, but if this book came out as an ebook and were selling at the same price at this hardback, I'd certain opt for the latter. There is nothing like holding a hardback, when you can open the book flat and not crack the spine, whic
Sep 08, 2012 Rafaela rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2012
So. This review should come with a warning. I’m very bad at singing the virtues of things. I’m much better at pointing out flaws, but really... this book doesn’t have that many of them.

If anything,its biggest flaw is how it pays so much attention to every single character, and how the narrator can’t seem to figure out who he wants to stay with. It’s a big cast of characters, indeed, and I won’t lie and say that I didn’t get a little lost between them on more than one occasion.

But I still loved t
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It should be noted that a recent Gallup poll revealed that there are an estimated 14,000 writers worldwide who share Rhodes’ name. He is not to be confused with the Daniel Rhodes who writes books about vampires, or the Daniel Rhodes who writes books about ceramics, or the Dan Rhodes who writes books about theology, or the Danny Rhodes who writes teenage fiction, or the character Sheriff Dan Rhodes ...more
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“Inside all of us, she reflected, were smiling bones. She would do her best to remember from now on that even on the hardest days there was always a smile underneath her skin.” 6 likes
“The old man bridled at this. All his life he had gone out of his way to avoid any situation that might be mistaken for a friendship.” 4 likes
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