Lance Greenfield's Reviews > Incendiary

Incendiary by Chris Cleave
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Jul 07, 2015

it was amazing
Read in December, 2009 — I own a copy

Original, entertaining, authentic and believable


An East End [of London:] woman decides to write a letter to Osama bin Laden after a team of his suicide bombers wreck her life by indiscriminately blowing up the crowd at a football match, killing both her husband and her four-and-a-quarter year-old son, along with over a thousand other football fans.

The letter is written, mainly in the authentic language of an East End gal, but with snippets of people from other worlds. The grammar and punctuation is appaling, but it is totally in context. She relates, to Osama, all of the events and all of her feelings from immediately before the atrocity to many months afterwards.

There is a lot of humour interspersed throughout the tragedy. One of the funniest passages that I have read recently will not spoil your enjoyment of this book.

It didn’t smell posh in Harvey Nichols it smelled of all the different perfumes in the world very strong and mixed up together. It felt like having your throat scraped. I took my boy into John Lewis once and it smelled just like that in the perfume section. Yuk Mummy he said. It smells nice and nasty all at once. It smells of angels' feet.

Hilarious!

I can understand why some people do not like this style of writing and cannot get into the book at all. This is a book that you will either love or hate. It is either one star or five stars plus plus. I cannot tell what it will be like for you, but I would recommend that you give it a chance. For me, it was one of the best books that I read in 2009.
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Reading Progress

12/13 page 3
0.88%
12/15 page 35
10.29% "340 pages of colloquial narrative as a letter to bin Laden? It works, so far, for me!"
12/16 page 57
16.76% "I am liking this book. It is original and entertaining and contains a serious message from the common man (woman actually!)"
12/16 page 85
25.0% "Horrific scenes and emotions, well described."
12/19 page 228
67.06% "Funniest line I've read recently: Boy in department store fragrance counters: It smells nasty and nice together, Mum, like fairies' feet!"
12/19 page 228
67.06% "Started reading in bed at 0730. So gripped that I read over 140 pages before I realised it was 0950! Gripping!!"
12/22 page 338
99.41% "Review to follow"
03/28 marked as: read
show 2 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Lance Greenfield For those who can get over the writing style, and I did so, this is a tremendous narrative. However, I can easily understand those who would hate this book. The easiest thing to do would be to pick it up and read the first few pages, then decide on whether you are going to read the rest, or not.


message 2: by GingerDoll (new)

GingerDoll I struggled with this, but loved The Other Hand. I saw him talk about both books last year; what a nice man and very much cares about what he writes and how best to portray it.


Lance Greenfield I love to listen to authors talking about their work.

Did you read my review of The Other Hand? I thought of them the other way around to you.

It is good to have variety of opinion. I enjoy that. But I'm a little bored with the seriousness of some of the discussion on my review of The Magic Mountain. You should take a look!


message 4: by Amy (new)

Amy Ha. That writing style reminds me of the gems I hear from my ex-roommate's Nova Scotian mother. However, half of hers are why she got kicked out of Wal-Mart again...


Lance Greenfield That's funny Amy!


message 6: by Susie (new)

Susie What a time to update the review, after the anniversary of 7/7. Quite interesting as the book was written after then. Inspired by it, plus other things?


Lance Greenfield Susie wrote: "What a time to update the review, after the anniversary of 7/7. Quite interesting as the book was written after then. Inspired by it, plus other things?"

I was travelling back from Paris on Eurostar, then through London to get home to Andover today. My wife was worried about me. The IRA missed me by five minutes in September 1973, so luck is on my side!


message 8: by Susie (new)

Susie Lance wrote: "I was travelling back from Paris on Eurostar, then through London to get home to Andover today. My wife was worried about me. The IRA missed me by five minutes in September 1973, so luck is on my side!"

I can imagine so. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news; it's not something that any of us will forget easily. It's harder for those that lived through the IRA bombings, too. And having narrowly missed... Wow! Seriously, I had one friend who was supposed to go into work that day, but her daughter was sick... Another overslept and missed the tube she was supposed to take home... For all those times we've been late somewhere, have missed a bus or train or have gotten stuck in traffic, sometimes there is some relief in that, for what could otherwise have been.


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