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The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim
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The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  2,694 ratings  ·  342 reviews
Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom. Estranged from his father, newly divorced, unable to communicate with his only daughter, he realizes that while he may have seventy-four friends on Facebook, there is nobody in the world with whom he can actually share his problems. Then a business proposition comes his way - a strange exercise in corporate PR that will require hi ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 2011 by Viking (first published 2010)
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May 03, 2011 Elaine rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
What a terrible terrible book. The plot involving selling green toothbrushes and the author's "quest" never gets off the ground. The ham-handed meditations on modern loneliness -- with references to Facebook, email, texting, shopping malls, and GPS systems -- are only not clunky and implausible when they are utterly cliched. That whole aspect of the book is written as if a wry old centenarian were manufacturing quips on "kids" (the kids in question are all late 40's) today for a Reader's Digest ...more
Christopher James
I read once, oh, on the internet or somewhere, that laughter, as a behaviour, is an evolution of a snarl. Think of wolves. If there is a weak member of the pack, an individual who no longer contributes to the whole, the rest will turn on them. They pull back their lips, to reveal their teeth, and make deep resonant sounds. I can see how this is like a laugh.

And laughter can be threatening, especially to the one who receives it.

But somehow, in the course of human evolution, we have come to love
Depois de ter lido “A Chuva Antes de Cair” e “A Vida Privada de Maxwell Sim”, ameaço tornar-me uma verdadeira fã de Jonathan Coe.
Este livro divertiu-me e ao mesmo tempo deixou-me irremediavelmente triste.
Trata-se de uma profunda, magnífica e completamente delirante reflexão, sobre o mundo em que vivemos.
Podemos relacionar-nos virtualmente com pessoas do mundo inteiro. Estamos todos interligados, sem fichas nem fios. Podemos estar sentados em nossas casas e com um clique comunicar com o mundo.
I wanted to like this far more than I did, because the ideas it engaged -- loneliness and isolation in a mediated, online world -- are some of my most constant fascinations. But the novel felt overblown in ways that prevented me getting very invested. I really enjoyed the voice of Max, the narrator, and while the novel stayed in his head and his perspective, following him on his road trip, I was engaged. Unfortunately, the novel relies on a number of inserted "found" texts, which seemed a bit of ...more
I don’t know what of think of this book. This is one of those books without plots, it’s just a series of events in the life of Maxwell Smart Sim. Maxwell is a lonely guy. He is stranded from his father, his wife left him taking their kid with her, he is suffering from depression and he is not even working. Ergo, he has nothing to do, nowhere to go or see and he is just wandering through life. Then, an old friend convinces him to embark on the endeavor of selling toothbrushes. His pitch is amazin ...more
Desde la primera página, la novela de Jonathan Coe te atrapa: empezamos sabiendo que un vendedor ha sido encontrado al borde de la hipotermia en su coche, desnudo y rodeado de curiosos objetos, para pasar a continuación a la historia en sí, donde Maxwell Sim está en un restaurante de Sidney observando como una mujer y su hija juegan a las cartas, observando la intimidad que hay entre ellas, algo que Max echa en falta, y que le hace darse cuenta de lo solo que está.

‘La espantosa intimidad de Maxw

Non so esattamente quale sia l'opinione che ho di questo libro. Insomma, ero partita con l'idea che le tre stelle fossero sufficienti, visti gli elementi che mi si presentavano davanti. Poi Coe, al suo primo esperimento, già mi lascia destabilizzata. Chiudo il libro e so solo che sono..sorpresa. Non ho ancora letto nient'altro di Coe, e forse un giorno penserò di aver sopravvalutato questo libro, ma per me ora le quattro stelline sono l'unico appiglio a cui mi posso aggrappare. Cercherò..di
Margherita Dolcevita
Non so bene cosa scrivere (e quando inizio una recensione così probabilmente sarà lunga come la Quaresima).
Impressione finale: mi è piaciuto. Ho chiuso il romanzo, 362 pagine, e sono rimasta abbastanza soddisfatta.
Ma partiamo dall'inizio. Inizia male, sarà che mi aspettavo qualcosa d'altro (ovvero che iniziasse quasi dalla fine, oh d'altronde la sinossi presente ovunque parte da quella!) ma ho fatto molta fatica a leggere le prime 30 pagine, che di per sé sono poche ma se non ti convincono semb
First off, I love Jonathan Coe. In fact, I think he is one of the greatest authors I've ever come across. There hasn't been another author who has managed to move me to the extent in which his writing has. Having said that, the Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim is not one of Coe's gems, in my opinion.

The usual suspects are there: social commentary, wittiness, humour and sadness however, the juggling of these elements, which Coe normally does so well, does not quite work here. In fact, it was quit
Aaron (Typographical Era)

Tonight I finally get to meet Jonathan Coe as he makes a stop on his very short book tour across North America to promote the stateside release of his latest work, “The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim” which saw its initial release in the U.K. last summer.

I’ve got to say that I’m more than excited. Coe’s body of work is nothing short of stunning. He’s a master storyteller with a gift for writing rich, believable, thoughtful characters of both sexes. Over
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 22, 2012 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: barefoot.julie
Shelves: read2012
This took me a good 100 pages to really get into. I liked the character of Maxwell Sim, in fact he seemed very familiar to me, but I'm not sure the author really knew what to do with him. His story meanders between memories of his youth to his struggle with depression (which, incredibly, seems to come with 6 months paid leave in the UK, at least in this story) to the related stories that others have told. Actually the related stories are probably the most cohesive parts, making me think I'd real ...more

Oy. If I have to read one more book about a middle-aged British man who hates his life but is clueless that he brought it on himself, or that he has the power to change it, I may have to just punch the next middle-aged British man I run across.
The titular character of this low-key character study is an Englishman in his late 40s who has been understandably mired in deep depression for the six months since his wife and teenage daughter left him. He's an epically milquetoast fellow who seems perpetually three steps slower than the modern world, and whose job (customer service clerk for a department store returns division) is a very telling marker of his absolute meaninglessness. He's the kind of guy who, when he does start sharing his i ...more
I do like Jonathan Coe, but I have to admit I've not hugely enjoyed some of his recent novels. For me, it's been downhill ever since The House of Sleep.

But anyway...

I found Maxwell Sim a fairly dull, exasperating narrator. I thought he was too useless and hapless to be really engaging. And so I really didn't care much about the story. So what if his father was secretly gay? So what if he himself turns out to be secretly gay (and yet has been relentlessly captivated by women throughout the book?
Yves Gounin

Gros coup de coeur pour le dernier roman de Jonathan Coe, un auteur dont les précédents livres, en dépit du succès remporté, ne m'avaient pas encore conquis ("Testament à l'anglaise" m'avait beaucoup déçu)
Son héros est un anti-héros. Maxwell Sim, la quarantaine bien entamée, a perdu son boulot, sa femme, sa fille et sa mère (en ce qui concerne sa mère, la perte est définitive puisqu'elle est morte). Il n'a plus guère de contact avec son père parti vivre en Australie où s'ouvre - avant de se clo
I didn't know the author but I liked the idea behind this novel. So I bought it, and read it. And eventually finished it. I wish I hadn't though. The ending must be the worst ever. When reading the story I began to suspect that the author must be a grumpy old man with a distaste for such newfangled inventions as facebook and mobile phones. And suddenly there he was at the end of the story. Middle-aged, with the obligatory non-understanding wife, determined to remind me that I am reading fiction. ...more
Mike Dawson
Totally engrossing.

Though... reading it on the Kindle wasn't an ideal experience. As you read the story, you realized certain structural elements at work, which were not initially apparent. If it was a real book, it would be easier to go back and see the things you didn't realize were significant the first time. But, it was strong enough that I put it all together without being able to go back.

Loses a star for the epilogue, which really did feel like an F.U. to the reader for having become inves
I have this policy where I only read for pleasure and when I find a book boring, I have no problem giving up and just not finishing it. Now I tried with this novel, I tried very hard to care about Maxwell Sim and his story but it just didn't work for me. I didn't actively hate it but I frankly didn't give a damn about any of it.
Jari Van den bossche
I won’t mince matters. The terrible privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read (that’s why I also gave it five stars). I have to admit that it’s had been a while since I enjoyed reading so much. To be honest, this books brought the pleasure of reading books, enjoying them, back to me.
It was so engaging and enjoyable though the book is actually not about subjects that’ll make you happy. It is about this middle-aged man who’s called Maxwell Sim (surpri
Maxwell Sim is a hapless 48 year old whose wife and daughter have left him. He goes into a depression, gets a leave from work, goes to Australia to visit his father who has always been undemonstrative and distant. When he returns to England, he gives up his old job and takes on a new one - he's going to drive a Prius full of toothbrushes to the Shetland Islands as a promotional stunt. On the way he decides to reconnect with friends and figures from his past. It's a fable, a social satire, a caut ...more
Lolly LKH
I wanted to love this novel but sadly, it kind of bored me. I understand we're disconnected, many people are finding themselves single (divorced, etc) and I am all for reading about the decline in our connectedness via 'over-connection' through facebook, texting, etc. Maxwell Sim is unsuccessful in most situations, lacks the gift to charm, doesn't seem to have any answers, and is disconnected in relationships. I found it very sad when he couldn't even relate to his daughter at dinner. There are ...more
L.C. Lavado
This was soooooo DEPRESSING!!!

Tenho um fraquinho muito especial por narrativas de um humor negro deprimente… e se conseguirem oferecer-me um bocadinho de non-sense, PERFEITO!

Isto era tudo o que eu esperava quando trouxe este livro para casa, mas (oh Deus!) como a coisa me saiu mal!

Maxwell Sim é o personagem principal (com direito a integrar o título do livro e tudo) e é tão sozinho e depressivo como prometido; a passar aquela idade dos 40, onde (dizem que) o pouco que faz sentido na nossa vida v
Callie S.
I terribili segreti di Maxwell Sim è uno strano romanzo, al punto che per prima soffro nell'assegnargli un giudizio. Accanto a uno stile brillante, che fa dell'autore una delle mie penne favorite, stagna la materia informe di una storia ambiziosa che si sgretola con insospettabile facilità strada facendo.
Chi è Max? Un Charlie Brown di mezza età, perdente designato e vittimista per vocazione.
Un inetto nell'accezione sveviana? Forse, se solo la capacità di auto-analisi del carattere non fosse
Steve Dow

BRITISH novelist Jonathan Coe leads the reader down the superficial road of self-serving solipsism then deeper self-examination with his eighth novel. Maxwell Sim, in his mid-40s, is divorced, distanced from his father, and avails himself of 21st century gadgets to navigate his way around but rarely through human interaction.

Sim – yes, a pun on a mobile phone SIM card – has a Facebook profile with 74 “friends” who require no face time whatsoever as well as a disembodied
Helen Greig
One of the best books that I have read for quite a while. I found myself rooting for Maxwell from the very beginning because his story seems like a common one. For an introvert like Maxwell, the very technology that is meant to make us feel more connected to the world does actually render us more lonely. Maxwell tries to connect with others though Facebook (his 70 "friends") and builds a close relationship with his ex wife by posing as someone else through Mumsnet. We all become someone else onl ...more
David Russomano
A blurb on the cover of my edition of this book called it funny. When my fiance read it, she didn't entirely agree with that adjective. When I read it, I could see both sides of the coin. In some ways, it's hilarious. (The way the protagonist talks a man to death on a plane recalls scenes from the classic film, Airplane). In some ways though, it's entirely tragic. And both its humor and its tragedy seem to stem from the authors uncanny ability to transcribe the signs of our time, which are gener ...more
Die ungeheuerliche Einsamkeit des Maxwell Sim? Eher die ungeheuerliche Langeweile. Zu allererst: Ich habe das Buch nicht zu Ende gelesen. Manchmal muss man zu einem Buch einfach "Nein" sagen und seine Lebenszeit für bessere, lustigere, schönere Bücher nutzen. So ging es mir bei diesem Roman.
Aber nicht alles ist schlecht an Coes Buch. Die Idee ist gut. Ein mit sich und der Gesellschaft, ja dem Leben im Algemeinen unzufriedener Mann Ende Vierzig begibt sich auf einen Roadtrip durch das Vereinigte
Every inch a typical Jonathan Coe novel, this book bears all the author's usual hallmarks; plenty of humour, political/social satire constantly bubbling away in the background, a varied narrative which switches viewpoints a few times, a lot of stuff about human relationships of all kinds, and - of course - a deluge of coincidences. It has an unusual and sometimes off-putting 'hero' in Maxwell Sim, an ageing, jaded and recently divorced customer-service guy who ends up taking a job selling toothb ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Jonathan Coe did it again.

A pretty decent effort of a novel spoiled by an abrupt, clumsy (and metafictional!) ending.

Pity, because 'The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim' has its good moments and includes some brilliant dialogues and ideas.

There's just too much here: too many characters, too many subplots left open, too many letters/emails/essays/short stories to fill the gaps and keep the story going by tossing it here and there. Ah, and too much of a certain NavSat...

330 pages could have bee
How rude! That's what I think about the final few sentences of that epilogue. Lots of good stuff in this novel to enjoy. Sometimes the author was a bit too chatty and I became mildly to moderately anxious and my vision kind of blurred.
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Very disappointing 3 49 Jul 21, 2013 11:54AM  
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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.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up! rew
More about Jonathan Coe...
The Rotters' Club The House of Sleep What a Carve Up! The Rain Before it Falls The Closed Circle

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“I was going to say 'my friend Stuart', but I suppose he's not a friend any more. I seem to have lost a number of friends in the last few years. I don't mean that I've fallen out with them, in any dramatic way. We've just decided not to stay in touch. And that's what it's been: a decision, a conscious decision, because it's not difficult to stay in touch with people nowadays, there are so many different ways of doing it. But as you get older, I think that some friendships start to feel increasingly redundant. You just find yourself asking, "What's the point?" And then you stop.” 8 likes
“As for human contact, I'd lost all appetite for it. Mankind has, as you may have noticed, become very inventive about devising new ways for people to avoid talking to each other and I'd been taking full advantage of the most recent ones. I would always send a text message rather than speak to someone on the phone. Rather than meeting with any of my friends, I would post cheerful, ironically worded status updates on Facebook, to show them all what a busy life I was leading. And presumably people had been enjoying them, because I'd got more than seventy friends on Facebook now, most of them complete strangers. But actual, face-to-face, let's-meet-for-a-coffee-and-catch-up sort of contact? I seemed to have forgotten what that was all about.” 4 likes
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