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Albert Angelo

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A failed love affair, the failure to find work as an architect, and the difficulties of substitute teaching cause Albert Angelo to reexamine his life
Paperback, 180 pages
Published February 1st 1987 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published 1964)
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Ice by Anna KavanThe Unfortunates by B.S. JohnsonChristie Malry's Own Double-Entry by B.S. JohnsonImpossible Object by Nicholas MosleyThe Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard
British Experimental Novels 1940-1980
11th out of 89 books — 29 voters
Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutGravity's Rainbow by Thomas PynchonThe Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas PynchonIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Postmodern Genius
398th out of 438 books — 453 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,186)
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Mike Puma

What strange language it is to read, this book. How peculiar, to me, my self, too, the reading. The book. This book. That I’ve held, in my hands, this book, my hands have held. Great fun, to read, too, this book, for me, myself, this book, it is. Wonder the punctuation, abundant, too, from McCarthy and Faulkner came? Wonder the syntax, not Dutch, Pennsylvanian or otherwise, too? (I’m going to throw the horse over the fence some hay). Right then, write, write on, read, read more. This read and t

Stephen M
Jun 14, 2012 Stephen M rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Post-modernism at its most extreme
Recommended to Stephen M by: Patty

This is what my meta-fictive madness shelf was made for. Whooooo wheeeeee, this was an interesting book. I don’t think I’ve read a book like this ever in my life. There was a point at every part of the book where I would have given each different star rating to it. It pulled me in every wh
Adam Floridia
This one really was almost five stars for me, but I’ve got to get back to being more prudent with that prestigious honor, and this certainly has room for improvement. Because of the nature of the book, I’m going to have to write a two part review pretending that I had not finished the book at the writing of the first part of my review. Simple. Here goes.

Adam’s review of pages 9-163 (Prologue, Exposition, and Development) while pretending to have not read beyond page 163:
Although not a perfect no
Nate D
Jun 28, 2012 Nate D rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: drowning substitute teachers / disinterested students / anyone else
Recommended to Nate D by: MJ Nicholls
Despite being rampant with typographic, narrative, and perspective shifts and disorientation, there's something about B.S. Johnson's delivery -- brisk and funny and personable, simple and direct at time, gracefully turning a phrase when needed -- that makes this a breeze to read, and totally enjoyable, perhaps like a somewhat more negative Calvino. Similarly for his later Christie Malry's Own Double Entry. This time we're hanging about with a schlub of an architect, failing to make headway on hi ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The middle section contains one of the most accurate recreations of the life of a secondary school teacher in North London I have ever read (I used to teach very close to the one in the novel), and reminded me why I am glad I quit teaching….

As for the rest? Well, there are some wonderful moments, and some great writing, but also some parts which seem rather unsure of themselves and feel unfocused to me.

Not my favourite of his by any means, but certainly worth tracking down.
Nov 25, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
BS Johnson was a realist. He may've used tricky formatting, reflexive authorial commentary, but he was a realist. Which is likely a reason he killed himself at the age of 40. You can't stare hard at the world around you without eventually becoming depressed. You just can't.

I first read Johnson a couple of years ago. Christie Malry's Own Double Entry. One of the best books I've read. Still. Every page, every sentence, every word: perfect. At times, Albie was even better. As a whole, it was not a
Nov 07, 2008 Tosh rated it liked it
A good book but it didn't knock me out. B.S. Johnson came to my attention via Jonathan Coe's brography on Johnson. He's an author who was obsessed with the novel form and how it can be changed via the book as an object.

In many ways the experimentation is very much the 60's (and it was written in that era) and it's dated. One can think of Johnson as the British version of Raymond Queneau, but I feel Queneau is a much better writer. But on the other hand I am still curious about Johnson's other w
Aug 02, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Under construction
(noch nicht die Review, nur Lesenotizen)

"Ja, er, der so das Irrlicht vor mir schwenkte, den Handstock zur Hand, die aktive Seite der Prosa zugewandt"

Für B.S. Johnson, ein-Mann-Avantgarde der britischen Literatur in den 60ern, stand fest, dass die Prosa nach Joyce und Beckett nicht zurückfallen dürfe in die victorianisch-gemütliche Erzähltradition. Joyce hat die Messlatte nun nicht gerade tief gehängt
(hier eine meiner von Arno Schmidt übertragenen Lieblingsstellen aus dem gern
Jan 16, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Recommended to David by: Michael Dirda, Washington Post
Shelves: read-fiction
B.S. Johnson reminds me of David Foster Wallace: sometimes passages of stunning greatness, sometimes inspired belly laughs, sometimes infuriatingly opaque, but worth the slog because they both seem to be hammering at the same problem – how to be decent and fully alive if you're also just a regular schlub who has to get up and go to work. I like this type of book because I'm tired of artists (including writers) telling about how hard it is to be an artist (or writer). Only someone who's never fac ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
I could say that I found the experimental nature of this book refreshing and exhilarating, but that would be untrue. I wasn't completely put off by it, but it did seem, despite Johnson's authorial reassurances in the "Disintegration" section, gimmicky. Yet the meta-fiction oriented section of the book was the most entertaining. An author suddenly intruding on his own narrative to say: "No, wait, wait. This isn't what I really mean. Fiction is all just a big lie, and I want to tell the truth." It ...more
Aug 13, 2016 Billcccc rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marc Nash
Sep 19, 2013 Marc Nash rated it really liked it
Subversive and clunky at the same time, a fast paced experimental read if you can conceive of such a thing. Albert Angelo is a trained architect who can't get any commissions so to make money works as a supply teacher. The frustration he feels with Britain's educational system in the 1970s still resonates today as Johnson dissects its failings and suggests a wilful policy of keeping the lower orders half-educated. But the frustration he outlines also echoes his own love and professional lives to ...more
Sep 27, 2016 Ian rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
Johnson appears to set himself a lofty goal - that of bringing real life to the page. Not just real life stories of an everyday man who cannot get work in his chosen field and is haunted by a failed love affair, but capturing the moments of life itself. Everyone knows the feeling of thinking one thing while you are actually saying something entirely different, but how do you render that on a page? Albert Angelo is the would-be architect forced to accept short term work as a supply teacher. The s ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Sam rated it it was amazing
The words 'experimental novel' and 'highly readable' are not often seen together, but for Albert Angelo I think an exception can be made. What would otherwise be a fine-but-slight story of a wannabe architect slumming it as a substitute teacher, mourning the loss of his relationship, and generally not fulfilling his potential while drinking his nights away in east London and beating the young boys in his class (it's the 60s) is brought to life by Johnson's brutal honesty and his creative use of ...more
Jez Fielder
May 04, 2013 Jez Fielder rated it really liked it
This is a breath of fresh air. Granted, the protagonist leads a tawdry, dilapidated life in between a shithole flat and a shithole school, but the writing is, particularly when one reaches the final section, uproariously honest. There are narrative techniques within Albert Angelo that would excite the most ingenious post-modern wit of today and yet this was written in the mid 60's. The only criticism I have of Johnson is the very thing that makes Albert Angelo wonderful: too much of himself, of ...more
Harry Collier iv
I don't want to oversell it but this, to me, is everything a book should be. I am not saying that every book should be like this and I think it would be tragic if they were. What I am saying is this book spoke to me. I connected with this book in a way I haven't with a book in a long, long time.
I marked it as 5 stars because to me it was easily a 5 star book. With that said, I am unsure if it will be as profound to others.
I would definitely give it a shot.
Oh, and before I go, yes there is some s
Don Roper
Feb 03, 2016 Don Roper rated it it was amazing
an absolute gem..quirky, challenging, stupidly clever, engaging....most (only) annoying element was that Johnson forced me to care about Albert and then made me feel abandoned when he was ditched (albeit brilliantly)
Grim-Anal King
Sep 01, 2016 Grim-Anal King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How different the London of 50 years ago sounds. There is also the unusual perspective of the realistic protagonist....
Reading Albert Angelo after having passed up the chance to do so around the time it came out, when friends were laughing aloud as they read it, was a confused experience: it would have been easier to enjoy when B.S. Johnson was alive, which is not at all to say that it's not very funny and unsettling now. The teaching experience calls to mind Stephen Dedalus' feelings of hopelessness in chapter two of Ulysses, transposed into multi-cultural London schools 75 years later.

B.S. Johnson left only a
Feb 16, 2016 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Feb 08, 2015 Oryx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Near perfection.
Oct 27, 2012 Deanne rated it really liked it
Short novel about Albert, an architect who works as a supply teacher. Sometimes the kids are well behaved, sometimes they're the sort that could drive people to drink or suicide.
There'a Albert's thoughts on himself and his life, the past and the future. We also get glimpses of what others think of him. Johnson was also very concerned with the lay out of the book. The layout includes spliting the page and simultaneous conversations going on, or cut outs which mean that a section of writing is rea
Sep 30, 2015 Barry added it
Shelves: fiction, novels
I forgot how good this book is. Definitely recommended to anyone interested in 20th century British Lit, 1960's culture, Late Modernism, Postmodernism or narrative theory. Or, more broadly, anyone who wants to read something that is most likely unlike anything they've read before. Not a particularly easy read, but it is not particularly hard either. Pick it up if you want something that critically evaluates and mocks the standard linear narrative and has a sense of humor to it.
Apr 18, 2013 Jennifer rated it did not like it
This is a fairly forgettable story about an immature teacher who wants to be an architect, his problems with his students, his art, and women. It has an experimental narrative style, and the most memorable thing about it is that it has sections cut out of the pages so the reader can see through to the next page.
Nathan Connelly
Jan 14, 2015 Nathan Connelly rated it really liked it
Although a bit clunky at times, the use of parallel narration and typography makes this book rather unique. Johnson's writing feels like friendly banter and the pace keeps the reader interested. A fine piece of avant-garde literature.
Aug 12, 2013 Ian rated it liked it
Experimental writing and book style, the story of an architect who is also a supply teacher.
A. D. Jameson
Nov 22, 2010 A. D. Jameson rated it it was amazing
This is the book that made me want to become a teacher.
Feb 21, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: No one.
R.I.P. Bryan Stanley.
David Miles
David Miles rated it liked it
Sep 29, 2016
Alex Parkin
Alex Parkin rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2016
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B. S. Johnson (Bryan Stanley Johnson) was an English experimental novelist, poet, literary critic and film-maker.

Johnson was born into a working class family, was evacuated from London during World War II and left school at sixteen to work variously as an accounting clerk, bank junior and clerk at Standard Oil Company. However, he taught himself Latin in the evenings, attended a year's pre-univers
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“When Jenny left me, betrayed me for a cripple whom she imagined to need her more, my mother said never mind, perhaps he would die and then I could have her back again.” 0 likes
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