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Afternoon Men

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  175 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
First published in 1931, Afternoon Men tracks the trivial encounters and empty pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in demolishing pretenses that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell exposes artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the "glamorous" life. But as Atwater finds his love for Susan Nunnery ...more
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published 1963 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1931)
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Jun 28, 2011 Cera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very funny book in which absolutely nothing happens. I read some criticism of it while reading up on literature of the 1930s and thought it sounded unbelievably bleak, but somehow I was amused rather than depressed. The characters want very little, do even less, and even the climactic bits are entirely anti-climactic -- very telling in a novel from 1931.
Sep 28, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at a used book store in Minneapolis. Anthony Powell is one of my favorite writers, so I bought it. I think it was one of his earlier books, published in 1931. Just finished it. I liked it, of course. The dry wit, the recording of conversations -- you want to read more and more (and if you do, there's always his massive "Dance to the Music of Time." The protagonist's love affair reminded me of one I had in college, where you couldn't seem to find a way to where you wanted to go.
Jan 02, 2015 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Posh people do nothing very slowly. So why do I love this book? I really don't know, but it really is a gem. Now I want to read everything else he wrote....
Feb 01, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about Afternoon Men when I stumbled upon an online review that described the book as "the funniest book you will ever read." A few of my favorite books we pretty damn funny (A Confederacy of Dunces, Catch 22, most Vonnegut books) so I figured this book was worth reading. I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect other than it should be funny. It was an engaging, quick, read despite the fact that nothing really happens for most of the book. I finished the book liking i ...more
Mar 13, 2016 Kittaroo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Un libro frivolo. Non appassionante. Non coinvolgente. Primo che leggo dell'autore, e temo mi abbia un poco fatto passare la voglia di leggere il resto, nonostante tutti dicano sia un grande scrittore.
Penso sia l'opera a non essere all'altezza del resto. Quindi si, gli daremo un' altra chance. Tra un po'
Feb 16, 2011 Keeley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academicserious
Powell's first novel differs in tone from his Dance cycle. The social milieu is much the same; intellectuals and artists float about between depressing parties and country houses. And the plot is again cyclical; while that character was created through metaphor and imagery in Dance, here it is simply the fact that the first and last scenes occur in a private club and conclude with an invitation to a party. The mood is much bleaker, however. The protagonist seems to have no purpose or real enjoym ...more
Tom Tiding
Dec 21, 2014 Tom Tiding rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Afternoon Men is written nearly wall-to-wall with dialogue, such that you have to piece together what's actually happening from the bits and pieces you overhear. Characters speak in understatements and half-truths, so it can take some getting used to.

But the characters and the book are so clever-- I wanted them to be my clever friends, although I'm sure some people will find them awfully tedious. There aren't many sympathetic characters, and Powell doesn't give away any of their emotional depth
Apr 27, 2015 Pascale rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most people who reviewed this book on Goodreads found more in it than I did. Typically I'm drawn to books where very little happens and what does happen has to be parsed from elliptical clues. However, I felt this particular story lacked bite. You have a mildly unappealing set of characters, who dabble in painting, work in a museum, or have a private income. Although they don't care much about each other, and sleep with whoever is at hand indiscriminately, they form a tight-knit coterie, hang ab ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
It's impressive how much mileage this guy can get out of a hardly-rollicking plotline and page after page of banal dialog. It shouldn't work, and yet it's absorbing and darkly funny and even kind of deep for those of us who like to ascribe depth to things that look on the surface like nothing has happened.

Also, this is an extremely quick read, ideal for someone halfway through a brick-like book she's too busy to concentrate on but still wanting to actually finally read something start to finish.
Dec 19, 2014 Aurélien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powell's novel is funny and cynical. His characters will not arouse any sympathy from the reader, however you cannot put this book down.
The chapter when the characters argue about the appropriateness of having lunch when you know your host just committed suicide is hysterical, and having the hero pretend to have only a little to eat to fein compassion is never-seen. The characters are unpleasant but they are true, they are selfish but we understand why. That's all I was asking from Powell.
Jeremy Silverman
This is a very slight, but mildly entertaining novel. For readers of Powell's masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time, it will be seen as a much lesser work that is still of some interest. Although the tone of the novel is quite different from the twelve novel series that comprise A Dance..., the characters portrayed and the social situations are all rather familiar and evoke that world. This first novel of his is no place to start an acquaintance with Powell, but provides some satisfaction to ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Flob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, it is funny and it is well written. But I can only give a 3 because there is plenty here to annoy. The characters are all dreadful (cynical, a satire, whatever) and seem hardly worth the effort of getting to know. They, or the author, are shocking snobs. Any working person is usually presented as slovenly, or stupid and certainly not 'people like us'. The language in the novel is old fashioned even for the time, it can only seek to exclude. I can't give it less than 3 becaus ...more
Michael Murray
Apr 16, 2016 Michael Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. Dull, banal young things and artist manques sauntering through the 1930's Wasteland of Evelyn Waugh. Permeated with ennui and delicious irony. Snatches of phatic conversations redolent of Elliot. A map of a certain seedy class's cultural mindset.
Nov 30, 2014 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pointless book about pointless people. I realize it's a satire something something modern attitudes something something, and it is well-written and witty, but it's still fairly pointless. Maybe some of Powell's other books involve more interesting people.
Mike Wigal
1930s between the wars Britain. People doing nothing. Kind of a written pre-Seinfeld. The characters were simultaneously engaging and insipid. They were all probably killed in the Blitz.
Feb 02, 2015 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Sort of a cross between The Importance of Being Earnest and Waiting for Godot. Clever at times, but not often, and the satire seemed overdone.
Nov 11, 2014 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an episode of Seinfeld, if Seinfeld was a 30's British painter.
Aaron Ellis
Jul 17, 2015 Aaron Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book every Millennial ought to read.
Love Affairs of Nathaniel P for the 1930s, except not as good.
Apr 15, 2013 Ken marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to_read_nation
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Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
More about Anthony Powell...

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“Slowly, but very deliberately, the brooding edifice of seduction, creaking and incongruous, came into being, a vast Heath Robinson mechanism, dually controlled by them and lumbering gloomily down vistas of triteness. With a sort of heavy-fisted dexterity the mutually adapted emotions of each of them became synchronised, until the unavoidable anti-climax was at hand. Later they dined at a restaurant quite near the flat.” 0 likes
“I don’t dislike him because he’s a Jew,’ said Mr. Nunnery. ‘One can’t dismiss whole races at a time.’ ‘He’s all right.’ ‘You’d hardly know he was a Jew.’ ‘Oh, no. Hardly at all.” 0 likes
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