More Pricks Than Kicks
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More Pricks Than Kicks

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  434 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Samuel Beckett, the recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature and one of the greatest writers of our century, first published these ten short stories in 1934; they originally formed part of an unfinished novel. They trace the career of the first of Beckett’s antiheroes, Belacqua Shuah.

Belacqua is a student, a philanderer, and a failure, and Beckett portrays the vari...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 7th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1934)
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Greg
This novel (Beckett's first) is composed of a series of stories that tell the story of the adult life of Belacqua Shuah, a sort of schmuck version of Stephen Dedalus. The book is fairly funny, sometimes the humor had to be explained to me though by the OED, it's also dark and absurd. You know, sort of what you would expect from Beckett.

This 170 page book took me about a month to read, mostly because I insisted on reading it next to my computer so that I could look up words in the OED and becaus...more
Sonia
Sep 05, 2007 Sonia is currently reading it
I read this when I was 19 and had a very intense crush on a Beckett-loving Latin professor who is now a psychiatrist. Looking at it again I have no idea how I understood anything.
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
I'd read alotof Beckett before I got around to this one. I think Beckett's a great writer but he's too grim for me. I'm already grim enuf.. & too morbid. SO, when I read this & found it to be very well written (no surprise) but also from an earlier phase in his work where people are more than just blind worms crawling pointlessly thru the mud (nice surprise) I was relieved. Anyway, just when I was probably not expecting much from Beckett anymore he reminded me that he really IS a great w...more
Alan
People often find Beckett grim and he is, but he's also dead funny. This early work is hilarious. (And grim).
From my 1982 notebook:
Belacqua's jolly japes in Beckett's superb prose - corns complicated his night. Every sentence wound up like clockwork, ready to delight. eg It was the old story of the salad days, torment in the terms and in the intervals a measure of ease.
Balanced prose, the words a mathemetics of image and sound and meaning. (I was young, well 27).
Domhnall
Belacqua is the character around whom Beckett has built this collection of short stories and by the end he has been firmly established as a credible human figure, with a curmudgeonly personality and foibles that are all his own. ".. he was an indolent bourgeois poltroon, very talented up to a point, but not fitted for private life in the best and brightest sense, in the sense to which he referred when he bragged how he furnished his mind and lived there, because it was the last ditch when all wa...more
Sean Masterson
A somewhat uneven but interesting read. Beckett was heavily influenced by Joyce and the elder writer's fingerprints are all over these stories.

For the most part each story can be read on its own, taken together they tell the life story of Belacqua Shuah. A character who is summed up by a friend here:

"My sometime friend Belacqua enlivened the last phase of his solipsism, before he toed the line and began to relish the world, with the belief that the best thing he had to do was to move constantly...more
William Dearth
I have to go five stars on this one even though "Wet Night" was rather difficult. Beckett can be simultaneously comic, dark, merciless, pitiless, intelligent, satirical and creative. The times in which he is brilliant, which are many, he writes some of the most elegant prose that I know of. He is obviously a talent of astounding intelligence and background knowledge, so you best be on your toes while reading the majority of his work -- though admittedly, that will not always work.

These ten conne...more
Joseph Nicolello
ToriginsHUWNODREDRS (;;/;)
Holly Procida
Was that english ? I mean do they consider translating into American or even readable British english ? It might well have been James Joyce as far as I was concerned. I generally approach these writers as codes to be solved. The problem was, I could figure out entire passages of description of Belaqua doing something very mundane, but then I got lost when any action happened. Parts were good...
Alex V.
This book was kind of a hoot, which is not how most describe the works of this author. Mean-spirited, unsympathetic fun in a lifetime of stories about Belocqua Shuha, a manifestation of being uncomfortable being alive. Bel is unapologetically horrible most of the time, a bratty pratt in appreciative of the world that embraces him. I dig it.

Much of this early work is hard going, especially the hallucinatory bah humbug tale "A Wet Night." I think the story is about Christmas but not sure. Whatever...more
Joseph
Sorry... except for the part where the guy on the bike is at the bar drinking before the people get in the car and chase after him.... I am at a complete loss.
I tried....really I did.
Haydon
[from "Dante and the Lobster"] -- "Butter was a blunder, it made the toast soggy. Buttered toast was all right for Senior Fellows and Salvationists, for such as had nothing but false teeth in their heads. It was no good at all to a fairly strong young rose like Belacqua. This meal that he was at such pains to make ready, he would devour it with a sense of rapture and victory, it would be like smiting the sledded Polacks on the ice. He would snap at it with closed eyes, he would gnash it into a p...more
David
I just don't get Beckett, man. I've given him a fair shot, but I just don't get him.
Dan
Probably best known for the play Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts, in addition to writing plays, Samuel Beckett is also the author of a number of prose fictions. More Pricks Than Kicks is a book of Beckett’s early short stories. All of the stories are about the same character, so one could read the book as a novel (although here there are few cause and effect links among different stories, as contrasted with the way that cause and effect links together chapters in a novel).

Beckett bo...more
Eric
Like Joyce, Beckett expects in these early stores that the reader knows several languages and many literary, philosophical and other references. At the same time, there's an earthiness to much of the prose that reflects the many dualities in the themes. As Coetzee suggests in his intro (the acute leading the not so?) Belacqua, self aware and self pitying, is not as engaging as many of the side-characters. Spotty, but spottily brilliant.

Matthew
Funny stuff. Beckett's humor and humanity are always a treat. You can see Joyce's influence throughout More Pricks Than Kicks, but the author's special vision still shines through. This collection affirms that few can match Beckett for pointing out the strangeness and confusion inherent in being human.
Laura
“Mrs bboggs was utterly nonplussed. How was it possible to name a woman without thinking? The thing was psychologically impossible. With mouth ajar and nostrils dilated she goggled psychological impossibilities at the offender.”

Remember: Blue-eyed cats are always deaf; the burrowing tucutucu is occasionally blind, but the mole is never sober.

Stories of similar/identical material to Dream of Fair to Middling Women, but published years before that book, which publication was not until after Becket...more
Steve Morrison
I love Samuel Beckett--his late works are very austere and moving (while retaining his gallows humor) , but his early books are jolly and hilarious! This is a collection of his stories from before his first novel, Murphy (one of my favorite books). They concern the semi-romantic misadventures of one Belacqua, and are crammed with dark, dry, earthy humor. You can see how Beckett started out jaunting in the jolly footsteps of Joyce before he became a minimalist monk.
William A.
I really enjoyed re-reading this collection of connected short stories that I first read in the mid-80s. Over the years I would catch myself remembering a "scene" and tell myself I should give it another read. As with anything written by Beckett, I strongly recommend it to everyone. The main character is far from lovable, but the author does imbue him with a sufficiently accessible charm to make the reader interested in his small adventures.
Eric
My first exposure to Beckett in college, it's his most Joycean work. Very funny. Get your dictionary. Beckett nails the human condition in all it's squalor and confusion better than anybody. But there is still hope in his characters, if not bemused resignation. Ha!
Hanny
I made it a third of the way through this and decided that I had to bail. The four stars are just to get your attention and say that the first story in the book, "Dante and the Lobster," is one of the best I've ever read. Are there others in here that I should check out?
Christopher
An early work by Beckett, MPTK showcases early examples of his unique voice and labyrinthine language. It is a dark, moving and tremendously humorous look at various stages in one antiheros life through multiple marriages and to his ultimate end.
Eoin
Not sure what to make of this. More conventional than most other Beckett work but still a most unusual book. Beckett revels in using obscure words and esoteric references and many of the characteristics of his later work are present.
Robert Docking
I just re-read this early Beckett prose after several decades. Much of it is mannered and self-conscious -- the work of a young writer. But it is also filled with brilliant moments that give a strong sense of the greatness to come.
Frank
Some stories are palatable, but for too much of the time Beckett seems (to me at least) to be communing mainly with himself here. I prefer his later comic work (Watt, the trilogy).
J de Salvo
Great early work by Beckett, before he took on all those burdens; or before he knew how to talk about them.
Kerim
it starts with a great breakfast with all senses..read that part many times.
Clark
if you like beckett you like beckett
Marly
Marly added it
Jul 24, 2014
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1433597
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

Beckett is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Strongly influenced...more
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