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Latte, solfato e Alby Starvation

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  502 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Prima dei giovani sopravvissuti di Trainspotting, prima dei violenti hooligan creati da John King, prima del maniaco depressivo tifoso di Nick Hornby, prima di tutto loro, è nato Alby Starvation. Nel 1987 Martin Millar, scrittore glasvegiano in "esilio" a Londra, ha creato il primo anti-eroe letterario dell'ultima ondata di grande narrativa delle isole britanniche. Un anti ...more
Paperback, 177 pages
Published 2004 by Baldini Castoldi Dalai (first published January 1st 1987)
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Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: Powell'
Shelves: read-2011
from the Powell's review:

Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation reads like a kind of ur- Trainspotting that was possible while the shadow of the Sex Pistols was still fresh. There is no phony nihilism and no political posturing, just the celebration of fleeting opportunities for happiness in the squalor of punk bohemia.


Eh, this was fine and fun, but not nearly as crazy or cool as I'd hoped. Very slapsticky, and very funny, in that sarcastic silly British way. Here is my favorite paragraph (which,
Matthew Young
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Millar writes like Kurt Vonnegut, if Vonnegut had read more classical Greek comedies and watched a ton of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Which is to say, while the tone and simplicity of the writing style is very similar, but the tone is less "we are all destined for doom and only civility can make it somewhat less unpleasant" and more "I am destined for doom... ooh, Buffy is on."

Anyway... this is the first of Millar's books that I read. I picked it up during a semester abroad in England, and
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a tone in almost all Martin Millar books that I just love. This book seems like it shouldn't work but completely does. I felt like the way it switched between 1st and 3rd person. It was clear and not-at-all gimmicky. There are ideas that are fleshed out a bit more in the brilliant Lonely Werewolf Girl but they work in this story as well.
Patrick Engelman
Another one of my favorite books ever; this book has everything. Think video game tournaments meets radical anti-corporate veganism meets Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels...

Alby is a punk in London who has been very sick. When he went to the doctor, the doctor told him the problem was nerves and gave him sedatives, even though he was vomiting and bleeding randomly. He thought he would die, until a friend suggested adding food slowly into his diet to see if he was allergic to anything. He improved until he drank milk. When other people heard his story, they did elimination diets and found they were allergic to milk. Soon, Alby found himself at the center of a media ...more
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Woody Allen meets Pulp Fiction. Alby, a punk and minor drug dealer in his mid-20s, is very sick and discovers the cause of it to be milk. After being featured in a newspaper article, Alby becomes an inadvertent campaigner against milk.

When milk sales drop, the Milk Marketing Board wants to put an end to him. He'd go on the run, but he can't quite bring himself to leave his extensive comic collection behind.

The chapters are divided into short scenes which depict the interconnected set of charact
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun! A story-story that doesn't waste time with over-complicated psychology of characters and just keeps the action going putting them in harms way. Quite humorous.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally strange, bordering on psychopathic. I love it!
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, but I liked it. Lonely Werewolf Girl and The good fairies of New York are still my favorites by him.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-10
A silly, fast read and lots of fun. The kind of book Kurt Vonnegut might have written in one of his lighter moods, if he'd been a British punk.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
per essere il suo primo romanzo millar ha già chiaro il suo stile: far intrecciare tra di loro le vicende di soggetti assolutamente ai margini della società, fino ad un finale che -se non risolutore- almeno mette una sorta di "armonia caotica" nelle vite dei protagonisti. e, tra le righe, c'è l'inghilterra dell'era thatcher, tra la radio che parla di scioperi e minacce da guerra fredda, e i ragazzi che vivono negli squat col sussidio di disoccupazione...
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reminds me of Pulp Fiction. The plot contains drugs but is not explicitly about drugs. The organized criminal underworld is involved. The narrative cuts suddenly from following one character to another, and these pieces eventually fall together into a wonderful plot.

It's also one of those books that dropped me into a different place and time and I got lost there while reading.
After greatly enjoying Millar's Lonely Werewolf Girl, I wanted to check out what else he had written. Since this is the only one of his books that has been translated to Finnish (under the name of Alby Nälkäkurjen maitosota), I picked it up from the library and gave it a go.

It was okay, made me laugh a good few times and even as a translation, Millar's great writing style came across nicely. But as a story, it felt incomplete and somewhat unsatisfying. The ending fell flat and some of the side
Peter Landau
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When someone returned a book to a friend I was sitting next to, I had to ask him what it was. MILK, SULPHATE, AND ALBY STARVATION, it turned out. The author, Martin Millar, who I was vaguely familiar with, but never would have read for whatever prejudice, until my friend asked if I wanted to borrow it. Well, I kind of want to read everything, so I said okay. It took me a couple pages, but in short time I was enjoying the ride: a babble of intersecting stories of Brixton lowlifes that tie into a ...more
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-author
If you like stories in which one coincidence after another pushes the characters together in ever more entertaining ways, you'll probably love this. If you need a clear and definite plot and don't like silliness, this won't be the book for you, especially as it ends quite suddenly. Little is resolved, but there are clues that suggest how the characters will end up. The Good Fairies of New York has more of a plot and a more linear narrative, so if you're not sure, try that one first.

I finished th
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my usual thing-- I thought from the cover that this would be science fiction and it isn't. It's comic magical realism, and certainly very funny. As a person with milk allergies, I've always somewhat suspected the Milk Marketing Board as being as corrupt and terrifying an organisation as they're portrayed here, so that was a lot of fun to read about. The treatment of East Asian characters was somewhat questionable (and makes a lot more sense now that I'm aware that this book is actually from ...more
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
I hope Martin Millar never reads this blog post and decides that I’m a jerk, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation is his first book and you can tell. I wish you could not tell – I love it when I can’t tell – but you could tell. You could also tell it was absolutely definitely Martin Millar and nobody else whatsoever, what with all the shifts in point of view, and the brief, brief little snippets of action at one time. (My short attention span thanks yo ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was dissapointed by this book. It took me months to get through it, I kept putting it down and reading something else. I really enjoyed two of his other books i've read. It had somewhat interesting "story" lines and once they started geting closer together it got better. It was felt like it was written by someone on speed so maybe he was just doing to much research. The end sorta fizzeled out right in the middle if what could probably be considered the climax. Unless the Kung Fu in the living ...more
Colin N.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an absurd and funny book!

The plot essentially revolves around Alby Starvation, a young, small-time amphetamine dealer in Brixton and the crazy people around him - an assassin from the Milk Marketing Board out to kill him, a Chinese druglord searching for him, a crazy professor digging up the street searching for an ancient crown, and a myriad of other characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. If it sounds silly and bizarre that is because it is. Yet somehow it works, and the stor
Sean Beaudoin
An exercise in the unreliable narrator becomes a sort of quick-cut magical realist comic book about a speed dealing slacker paranoiac. Does that make sense? No? Well, it mirrors the book. But in a good way. This is like reading bar notes on napkins. It has a great offhanded way about it that also makes it feel pretty thin in parts. And repetitive. But I enjoyed it. It's the ultimate attention deficit novelette. Beware the Milk Council. And the Brazilian hit woman. And Ethelbert The Unready's mag ...more
I'd forgotten how completely hatstand this book is in places. It fairly crackles along though, with an interesting narrative technique leading you along the way.

Bizarre conspiracy theories clash with wonderfully drawn characters and big doses of black humour to provide a rollercoaster tale of chance and whimsy.

Some of Alby's observations would cause any reader to nod along in agreement. Despite some obvious defects, he's such a warm character that you can't help but be drawn into his chaotic exi
I enjoyed this book even more than I enjoyed the other book of his I've read, The Good Fairies of New York. Millar's style of jumping from character perspective is surprisingly cohesive and I never felt lost in the narrative. He also has a way of slowly drawing all his characters closer together as the story progresses, bringing them ultimately together for a Shakespeare-comedy-style finale. A quick, fun, read and a nice break between heavier books.
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first this book was a bit confusing, not just because it had several different stories going on but also because I had never read anything like it before. However, as the story progressed I began to really love it. I found the ideas very comical and loved the character of Alby Starvation. I found it so clever at the end when all the stories ended up being connected and found the ending very funny and clever.
Simon C
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little dated now, it has to be said but off the wall and sporadically hilarious. The short paragraph structure makes it a little hard to get into but once it gets going this is an original and greatly entertaining read. Perhaps a bit too clunkily PC for its own good in places but still a tonic in these depressing times.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great characters and turn of phrase "Look what I've got for you, says Fran, and gives him a biscuit, he takes it enthusiastically and stuffs it into the vast pouches on either side of his mouth, you wouldn't believe how much this hamster can put into these pouches, something to do with another dimension, I think."
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always loved this book - not my favourite of his: that accolade belongs to Good Fairies of New York (it might have been Ruby and the Stone Age Diet, if not for the downbeat ending). Glad that I've started re-reading all Mr Millar's.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Martin Millar wrote a number of my favorite reads last year. I decided to have this be my first book of 2010. Not quite as clever as The Good Fairies or Lonely Werewolf Girl, but an enjoyable distraction
Dec 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed the book modestly, but there seemed to me to be too much of the college essayist on Dexedrine, hammering the keyboard with his sunglasses on against the glare of a small desk lamp at 3:00 a.m. There could be a graphic novel version of this story, as it is cartoonish in nature.
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stew of eclectic characters thrown together to make one tasty novel. Paranoid drug dealers, videogame-playing henchmen and Zen masters and punk-wastoid females. Come sit a spell and let Mr. Millar dazzle with his British wit and whole bunch of slang.
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to think that Dreams of Sex and Stagediving was my favourite Millar book, but on re-reading Alby, I am pretty sure this one is. I would write a longer review but every letter I type is smearing more and more pork pie into my keyboard so I am going to stop now. Read it though.
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