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One Hand Clapping

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  648 ratings  ·  37 reviews
With film rights acquired by Francis Ford Coppola, this comic novel of instant riches is back in stock. From the author of A Clockwork Orange, One Hand Clapping is a comedy of game shows and greed, high stakes and the high life. The tragi-comedy of used car salesman Howard Shirley, his photographic brain, and the modern world's trivia and trivialities makes for vintage Bur ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 15th 1999 by Da Capo Press (first published 1961)
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MJ Nicholls
Burgess’s 1961 satirical jeu, “dashed off to make a hundred pounds or so,” concerns that evergreen of topics: “The cheapness and the vulgarity and silliness and brutishness and nastiness of everything and everybody.” Is there any other topic worth writing about? Narrated by typical northern lass Janet Shirley, the novel uses the quiz show as a metaphor for the above commentary—how the Great Poets & Writers remain unread and unappreciated, relegated to trivia questions and fodder for fact-vac ...more
Anthony Burgess is a little on the strange side. Most well known for his book A Clockwork Orange Burgess not only creates a unique world for his stories, he creates new rules and an entire new language. When I began this book I had to read and reread the first few pages a couple times to get into my head the cadence and tone of the woman speaking. If you can't find the voice of Janet in your head you won't have nearly as much fun as the totally unexpected events unfold. Burgess lulls you into a ...more
My first encounter with the works of Burgess came in the 1970s, starting with A Clockwork Orange, after which I read several of his novels in a frenzy. The others were: A Vision of Battlements; Enderby (it was a single novel, with just that simple title, and not the current omnibus); The Wanting Seed; Napoleon Symphony; and this one, One Hand Clapping. To sum him up in the most general way, Burgess is indeed something else. I found all of his novels at least memorably entertaining, and a couple ...more
Timothy Salamon
My first Burgess after reading "A Clockwork Orange" in high school. An easy read with an entertaining narrative and interesting story. I'll definitely have to read more of his stuff!
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Iso Cambia
If there was no other reason for getting married, that would be as good a reason as any, the way it keeps you warm in bed.

... New York was quite interesting, and we saw all the things we'd already seen on the films, like Broadway and Harlem and Madison Square, also Fifth Avenue. The difference between the films and the real thing was, as I said, mainly that the real thing had its own smell and the real thing was more genuine, with people spitt
This novel is a social satire that warns against the effects of complacency and too much television. Janet and Howard are lower-middle-class residents of Bradcaster who have fallen into a familial marital routine of working, eating, and watching television. Janet is beautiful, but her education leaves a lot to be desired. Howard possesses the uncommon gift of a photographic memory which he uses to win a large sum of cash on a game show. He specialises in books and literature. Howard’s acquisitio ...more
Взех тази книга, защото много харесвам "Портокал с часовников механизъм" и бях любопитен да прочета още нещо от Бърджес. Книгата е написана добре, но за съжаление не ми допаднаха нито историята, нито героите.
The main appeal for most of One Hand Clapping is the interesting narrative. While "slow moving" for 3 quarters of the book, the main character Janet has an interesting voice and is written as though she's talking to you as a friend. She's quite likable and therefore makes the seinfeld-esque story about nothing compelling. It's essentially a story of a man (Janet's husband Howard) who sets out on a mission to figure out whether or not life is worth living in a very Albert Camus sort of fashion. I ...more
At only 216 pages it still came in as a very long read. A story contrived in order to preach about the fallacies of modern life. As dull as dishwasher water,very boring and predictable.
Extremely disappointed as I do love Burgess. Check out "a clockwork orange" or "the doctor is sick" as better examples of Burgess' undoubted talent.
Stephen Gallup
I read this at some point after finishing school, feeling a continuing admiration for the author of A Clockwork Orange and wondering if his other titles were as good. The basic story of this one has stuck with me over the years, as have a few specific scenes. It deserves more attention than I think it got.
The language of Burgess is wonderful - that's the voice and these are the words of the real common people.
Susan Taylor
All time favorite book of all time
Raaj Rizbondo
Superb pacing.

Burgess is a master of this genre - first person autobiographical "racconteuring", for lack of a better term. In this case, his wry retelling of a game show contestant's life going horribly wrong is superb. The narrator, the contestant's young wife, plays with the form in a similar, but more self-aware fashion than say Holden Caufield, in "Catcher in the Rye". The result is a madcap tale - English through and through - where we can never quite be sure how much has been left out of
Man, what a tremendous letdown. Tremendous? Maybe not tremendous. What a letdown, though! I read this maybe five, six years ago and absolutely loved it. Just loved it. This time around, kept waiting for it to get lovable, and it never did. It really never did. The voice is cool; maybe I hadn't seen the Office UK at that point yet and was taken by the British narrator. I dunno; all I can say is this bored me this time around. It's a simple story, and it succeeds where it's trying to succeed in te ...more
Jess Sherwin
I read this book in high school and I was completely blown away by the humor and voice. One of my all time favorites.
Patrick Johns
Nice story. Easy to read, and a great picture of England in the 60s (that I remember so well...!).
Great book. Dark and funny and creepy.
The story is narrated by Janet, in a completely dispassionate, matter-of-fact manner. She seems somewhat older than her 23 years, but that may be a British thing to which I can't relate. The style of narration is in sharp contrast to the events that unfold, making the ending all the more horrifying. I was left feeling unsettled, like after I watched Hitchcock's Psycho.
Overall, I'd recommend it, but don't expect to experience any warm fuzzies!
Miles Wistar
It was certainly interesting to read a book by Burgess that took place during his time. This book mostly foreshadows human greed and lust. It wasn't as fast paced as The Wanting Seed or A Clockwork Orange, but it steadily kept me reading. I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys looking into the dark side of "love", human emotion, greed, and capitalism overall.
Robert Pereno
May 13, 2010 Robert Pereno rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To some
Recommended to Robert by: Simon Pethwick
Clever little book by a very clever chap that loves his cleverness. I was mostly engaged & entertained but I have quite a few buts & would rather discuss these 'buts' with you over a cup of tea.
I give this novella a 7 out of 10.
It was pretty average, though kind of dull for the first 2/3 of the book, then it got crazy. It's one of those books with a "twist", so if you're only half into it and not entirely convinced it's going to get better, stick with it!
Loved this book. The husband seemed to be kinda autistic or had some Gumpish (the Forrest Gump from the book(s) not the movie, quite different characters) qualities. The descriptions of life in the time period setting were great.
If you like Clockwork Orange, you should read this one too. It's not quite the same, but still a good read. It's too bad Burgess is mostly just known for Clockwork Orange when he has many other enjoyable books, too.
This is probably the quickest reads of all of Burgess' books that I have read thus far. Great plot, interesting characters, and as always subtle social commentary.
Debbie Price
This is definitely a fun read. I will say I kept thinking I new what was going to happen next but until the very end I was always wrong.
Ken Deshaies
Funny and poignant - and very British. A fun read that keeps you guessing, and an ending that makes it all fit so well.
An excellent thriller in the vein of Patricia Highsmith...not quite what I expected, but definitely a good read!
Very Burgess, things seem normal on the surface, but there is always that darker underside.
Jan 28, 2008 Rachel added it
Read this so long ago- written by a man in the voice of a woman- all I can remember.
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o ...more
More about Anthony Burgess...
A Clockwork Orange The Wanting Seed Earthly Powers The Doctor is Sick A Dead Man in Deptford

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