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Berg

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4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  228 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father...

So begins Ann Quin's first novel, which has been compared to the fiction of Samuel Beckett and Nathalie Sarraute. Against the backdrop of this gritty seaside town, an absurd and brutal plot develops involving three characters - Alistair Berg, his father, and their mutual
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Paperback, 168 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1964)
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Nate D
Aug 22, 2011 Nate D rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: budgies
Recommended to Nate D by: siamese cats
Reading Ann Quin's mad, brilliant final novel Tripticks, I was often struck by her uniquely garbled diction, a thick, high-modern mess of interior thoughts and memories blended into exterior details and actions, past and present and the entirely imagined mingling on every page. But in Tripticks, mingling also with a huge array of intruding outside material, brochures and pulp synopses and magazine texts, which I thought might account for the garbledness. But no, even here, in her first novel, wh ...more
MJ Nicholls
Ann Quin was a talented and ambitious writer, and this debut abounds in excellent sentences (when unmoored from the waffle of interior monologue or ridiculous dialogue), using various shifts in narrative position to create a palpable sense of desperation, farce, and bad blood. Like her compatriot B.S. Johnson, Quin is interested in black humour and showing human beings stripped of their pomp and defences, and somewhat revels in her dark worlds, even at their most OTT or mordant. The constant shi ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Apr 20, 2014 Sentimental Surrealist rated it really liked it
Shelves: dalkey-archive
Let's do a little thought experiment. Nothing fancy, just a quick one. Imagine if Samuel Beckett decided he was going to rewrite Hamlet. However, imagine that he decided to rewrite Hamlet without tipping his hand that he was rewriting Hamlet. So that means no usurpers on the throne, no speeches in the graveyard, no ghosts, none of that. Instead, imagine that he took the two things that make Hamlet Hamlet, his indecisiveness and his much-discussed Oedipal issues, and made those the number one and ...more
Peter
Jun 27, 2014 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buried-books, reviews
In a miserable out-of-season seaside resort, Alistair Berg is planning to kill his estranged alcoholic father whilst taking a fancy to his dad’s new fake-fur consort. So we have vaguely oedipal goings-on – all communicated in Ann Quin’s slightly demented yet often effective prose – but with a narrative demoted from tragedy to farce, and characters demoted from archetypes to stereotypes.

It doesn’t really work. Even black humour requires comic timing, but Ann Quin spurns such niceties. So althoug
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Jessica
Jan 25, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Incredibly modern novel, written in 1964. It begins: "A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father..." How can you not read such a book? Another blurb: "A marvellously warped book..." --NYT. Sadly, the author drowned herself at the age of 37.
Marc
Feb 27, 2010 Marc rated it it was amazing
This instantly became one of my favorite books after I finished reading (and then rereading) it. Ann Quin. Criminally underrated (or simply unknown) British author of four short novels, Berg being the first of them, was a schizophrenic who took her own life in 1973 by, like Viriginia Woolf before her, walking out into the sea and never returning. In Berg, we are meticulously drawn a picture of life in a seaside resort town to which our anti-hero Berg (whose name, as we are told in the almost-fam ...more
Stacey (wanderlustforwords67)
Sep 08, 2016 Stacey (wanderlustforwords67) rated it really liked it
I've been stewing a bit over what to say about this novel. I guess I'll start with a little background information about the author, Ann Quin. I hadn't heard of Ann Quin until I had to find a Q book for the A-Z Authors (last name), reading challenge I am participating in this year. Apparently, she was a British author in the 1960's who described her work as, "experimental." She had a moderate following in the 1960's in England and then in the U.S, but is primarily unknown in the today's literary ...more
Nigeyb
Nov 24, 2014 Nigeyb rated it liked it
I had high hopes for Berg. Ann Quin was born in Brighton, England in 1936 and died there in 1973 having swum out to sea one morning never to return. Quin was her first book and it's set in Brighton. As a Brightonian I am automatically attracted to books set here.

Between Saturday 22nd November 2014 and Friday 19th December 2014, here in Brighton, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Berg's publication, artist/production designer Anna Deamer has created a film set installation for an imaginar
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Alan
Jan 29, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alan by: Jessica Treat
weird and brilliant, reminded me of James Hanley in its intensity and its grasping characters. Here's a typical bit:

Just lying here for an hour since the sun had filtered through the snow that snail-trailed across the window. How silent the place is, as if the snow had penetrated the walls, sound-proofed the habitual early morning scurryings, the alarms. Once a huge snowball, made entirely by yourself, hiding behind the shrubbery, blistered fingers against your mouth, listening for Edith's steps
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M.
Oct 02, 2010 M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: experimental, madness
the narrative consciousness of BERG is pretty singular. often it seems as though the protagonist is rehearsing dramas in his mind, sometimes talking to others, sometimes talking to himself, and the reader doesn't know what is fantasy and what reality. a lot of strangeness here - a claustrophobic book, and immensely disorienting at first. the premise is the oedipal triangle: the first line reads "A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father. ...more
Zanna
Aug 09, 2013 Zanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quin narrates a gruesome little plot from inside a schizophrenic mind. As Berg unravels he is aided in his downward spiral by the dehumanised, puppet-like figures of his beloved doting mother, despised unscrupulous father and their infantile 'bitch goddess' archetypally feminine mistress
Sean
Apr 02, 2016 Sean rated it liked it

(3.5) Quin’s first novel is a bit of a squirm-inducing affair. Reading it was like going to a low-key party where you don’t particularly like any of the attendees but they’re all mildly interesting enough that you decide to stick around, because, after all, you don’t have anything better to do and you’ve been to some other pretty good parties in this section of town where you’re almost certain you’ve seen some of these same people in attendance. After a few drinks you start chatting up the host
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Nickie
Jun 01, 2007 Nickie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: experimentalists
i've always been a bit wary of stream of consciousness, but this made me realise that s.o.c. doesn't have to be a random wodge of shite streaming out of the head of someone i'm not particularly interested in. if the terence davies film 'distant voices, still lives' was a book, it would be written in this style. the imagery is incredible, and the stream of consciousness works like a poem, taken out of form, where you have to read every sentence slowly and every phrase is weighted with meaning. re ...more
Elizabeth
Mar 04, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
some stuff on quin:

--Lyrics from the Lacuna by Christine Fox
http://www.pavilion.co.uk/star/AQ.html

--Ann Quin by Brian Evenson and Joanna Howard
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi...

--Gems of Genius by Joan Schuman
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/2002-0...

--The Complete Review's Ann Quin page:
http://www.complete-review.com/author...
Jim
Apr 26, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
This is a dense novel—don’t let its length fool you—and even though the sentences are generally on the short size don’t assume you’ll be able to skip through this on a sunny afternoon lying by the pool. If you’re in the habit of reading before you go to bed then I would wholeheartedly recommend this one because if you’re already drowsy this will send you right off and that’s not a criticism, simply an observation. This is a book that demands—and rewards—attention.

The plot—and, yes, there is a pl
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Manifest  Terror
Mar 04, 2010 Manifest Terror rated it liked it
2145916 this book reminded me strongly of hubert selby's novels (last exit to brooklyn, requiem for a dream) and hitchcock's "psycho." it took me a long time to read because the style is decidedly difficult, but also because i've been a little busy with other things in real life (sigh). stylistically, ms. quin has written a jarring novel, which takes some getting used to. most of the time, i liked reading it.

one of the jarring aspects is that there is no distinction between the dialogue of the c
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Jean Bosh
Feb 24, 2016 Jean Bosh rated it liked it
Though it was mostly enjoyable, I was left a little disappointed. As has been mentioned, there are similarities to Robbe-Grillet (especially The Voyeur and, maybe, as with that book, I will find that I like it more in retrospect) and, more so, to Nathalie Sarraute (whose books I've only quickly flipped through and passed on).

Still, the book has a nice atmosphere and there are plenty of worthwhile passages. I'd give her other books a shot if only for those moments her troubled soul seems laid bar
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Brendan
Aug 09, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it
When a book starts with the line: “A man called Berg, changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father” you know you are in for quite the Oedipal ride. Quin exploded onto the British literary scene in the 60s with this book, but soon drowned herself a la Virginia Woolf and was forgotten. In Berg she plays with dream, delusion and reality throughout while capturing the riotous atmosphere of 1960s Brighton, but the most interesting aspect for me was that this book – os ...more
Stephen
Feb 28, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Although ostensibly a standard 'sins of the father' story of the kind that has been drawn so many times before, Berg finds its real appeal in the sheer quality of prose and use of style. Don't be fooled by the 'stream of consciousness' label, this is more like a meditative, frantic drive through a man's psyche. I've never encountered a book, or any work for that matter, that so acutely made me feel as if I was in someone else's mind. An overlooked essential of the British avant-garde.
Aaron Kent
Mar 27, 2011 Aaron Kent rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I had to give this one a low score. It has a couple moments, and I understand it's experimental writing, but all the facets of it just added up to a kind of confusion on my part by the end of it. Plot is simple but hard to follow. Every review of this book I've found online makes a point of praising this books opening line as a great example of a great opening line however, one does have to follow that up with the rest of the book. . . .
Geoffrey
May 05, 2016 Geoffrey rated it liked it
I'm a little unsure here. I thought it was well-written and it had a certain momentum, but ultimately I'm on the fence as to whether it amounts to much. The way you always hear it described (in the goodreads blurb, eg) certainly makes it sound a lot zanier than it is, I'll tell you that much. It undeniably has a great opening line, though.
Marc Nash
Apr 18, 2014 Marc Nash rated it really liked it
Suitably claustrophobic Freudian triangle (foursome?) as the characters morph in and out of one another. Channels Robbe-Grillet filtered through Harold Pinter's plays. I did like the way a few symbols kept being returned to with slightly different meaning each time.
Derek
Dec 26, 2010 Derek rated it it was amazing
most haunting & well-crafted book i've read in a while—with language bended like Beckett & the existential page-turning grip of Dostoevsky | thank you Dalkey Archive for saving her from disappearing completely off the shores of Brighton Palace Pier ||
Patrick
Feb 07, 2015 Patrick rated it liked it
Really avant-garde and went mostly over my head. The part where he drags around the dummy thinking that it is his father's murdered body is pretty funny though.
Mary Tongel
Feb 02, 2016 Mary Tongel rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of my new favorites. Brilliant avant-garde styling with less of the bullshit. The most smothering, maddening book tale of an Oedipus complex I've ever read. #dank
Dennis Gerwing
Apr 21, 2015 Dennis Gerwing rated it liked it
Based on "literary merit", this book probably deserves more than 3 stars. My rating indicates my own personal enjoyment of it.
Ciara
Ciara rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2015
Emily
Emily rated it liked it
Sep 19, 2011
Phil Rigby
Phil Rigby rated it it was amazing
Apr 08, 2012
Rhoads
Rhoads rated it it was amazing
Dec 18, 2007
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  • In Partial Disgrace
  • Works
  • Impossible Object
  • Amalgamemnon
  • Chromos
  • With the Animals
  • On Elegance While Sleeping
  • Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine
  • The Conversions
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations
  • Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down
  • Concluding
  • The Short Fiction of Flann O'Brien
  • Miss MacIntosh, My Darling
  • Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things
  • Things in the Night
  • The Stain
  • Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
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Ann Quin (1936-1973) was a British writer noted for her experimental style. The author of Berg (1964), Three (1966), Passages (1969) and Tripticks (1972), she committed suicide in 1973 at the age of 37.

Quin came from a working-class family and was educated at the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament. She trained as a shorthand typist and worked in a solicitor's office, then at a publishing company whe
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