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3.51  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Most of the things Pillow really liked to do were obviously morally wrong. He wasn't an idiot; clearly it was wrong to punch people in the face for money. But there had been an art to it, and it had been thrilling and thoughtful for him. The zoo was also evil, a jail for animals who'd committed no crimes, but he just loved it. The way Pillow figured it, love wasn't about g ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Coach House Books (first published October 13th 2015)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  123 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, can-con, favourites
Most of the things Pillow really liked to do were obviously morally wrong. He wasn't an idiot; clearly it was wrong to punch people in the face for money. But there had been an art to it, and it had been thrilling and thoughtful for him. The zoo was also evil, a jail for animals who'd committed no crimes, but he just loved it. The way Pillow figured it, love wasn't about goodness, it wasn't about being right, loving the very best person, having the most ethical fun. Love was about being alone
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Elements of film noir and classic crime fiction weave dreamlike throughout a convoluted narrative that simply should not work, yet Battershill fully commits to the conceit and batters it into gloriously bruised shape. Pillow is a delightful protagonist, slightly dim yet smarter than he thinks, and his interaction with Emily crackles, aided in no small part by Battershill’s magnificently heightened dialogue. Pillow, like its gangsters, is a surreal experience. It’s also a crackling good read that ...more
Barbara McEwen
I read it really on a surficial level as I had no idea about the surrealism influences. I love weirdness but every character is weird in an over the top and different way so just be prepared. It can be a lot to take in. I liked Pillow and quite a few of the other characters despite my lack of connection with boxing or crime rings, lol. I had some laughs, was shocked at times, got a little lost at times. There is really a lot going on here.
Paul Childs
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A funny, rich, and ultimately sad little book. Exceptionally creative writing, recommended.
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The surrealist aspects of this book had me rushing to Wikipedia as my knowledge was woefully inadequate for me to fully appreciate it. The violence in the book was disturbing but somewhat ameliorated by the dialogue. Many of the characters have names drawn from the Surrealist Movement of the 20th century and they all speak in a very intellectual manner even as they are beating each other up or killing someone, often by mistake. So in a curious way, I found the story quite compelling. It is very ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
As I write the review for this book, I am torn. AS a reading experience, I can't say that I enjoyed it. However, it wasn't because it was poorly written. It is very well written. It is simply not my type of book. Having said that, there was no point when I wanted to stop reading the book because I liked the main character Pillow and I wanted to know what happened to him. This book had a strange visceral effect on me as I read it. ...more
Nov 20, 2015 marked it as to-read
PW Starred: Pillow, the unsuspecting hero of Battershill's unusual debut novel, is a former boxer with a love of animals and the zoo. He makes ends meet as a low-level thug in a criminal syndicate run by, of all people, André Breton, the founder of Surrealism. After Pillow's would-be girlfriend Emily reveals she's pregnant and an antique coin heist goes wrong, the enforcer conceives of a plan to find and flip the coins under Breton's nose—one final score before getting free of the organization. ...more
Peter B
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pillow is a former successful boxer who has blown through fame and fortune and who now lives with massive headaches, blackouts and moments of lucidity. His only work is as an enforcer for a criminal gang, and even that work is sporadic as Pillow is unable to stay focused for very long and once he becomes physical he is unable to stop. His girlfriend, with whom he hopes to build a new future is pregnant. He sees the opportunity to finance this future by stealing some rare coins which are actually ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2018, book-club
In my opinion, one of the best things about book clubs is that they force me to read books I would never read and, by doing so, expose me to all different kinds of books. Pillow is a book I would have never, ever picked up on my own - a retired boxer who becomes part of a crime syndicate who is working on a double cross involving ancient coins? Believe me when I say that none of this appeals to me.

However...this book worked for me. And while it isn’t one I would re-read (or even normally recomme
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
Pillow is a retired boxer working as a low-level mob enforcer. He's a pacifist vegan who loves giraffes. I honestly can't think of another CanLit character I'd be more likely to date. (The original Rocky is my favourite movie/love story of all time.) Pillow the book is a clever, fast read with lots of zingingly original images. The mob being made up of famous surrealists is a bonus, destabilizing the typical mafia narrative and giving the book an unpredictable dreamlike quality that's heightened ...more
Sween McDervish
A mash up of hardboiled genre and surrealism via concussed brain. Protagonist Pillow, a now ex-famous boxer reduced to playing muscle for a mobster, gets in a stew when his girlfriend gets pregnant and he makes a play for some antique coins. The tension of whether Pillow is clever or just deluding himself keeps the novel going through the wacky bits (not that they aren't enjoyable in and of themselves). ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The thing about Pillow's surreal. I got into it no problem but never knew exactly where I was. I mean, where exactly is this story set? The smart dialogue could be British, lower London perhaps but it doesn't really matter; definitely urban jungle and Pillow is fascinating. He's this big huge ex-fighter, working now for his local syndicate. With a cast of characters very well drawn, this story weaves quite an adventure. A delight for sure! ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nice one about a doomed big dumb guy, told with style.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
DNF. Potential was good, lots of clever characterization, but after a while I felt like I was reading prose best appreciated under the influence, of...... something. Much of the dialogue and stream of consciousness was very bizarre, yet only one of the characters were portrayed as actually stoned. I was reminiscing of highschool parties where are the cool high people read aloud poetry I didn’t understand... after a while I just stopped trying to understand what this author was going for. Meh
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I prefer detective stories with unusual or slightly defective personalities when the authour then has you look at the world through that lens. This book does that on two levels; once through the eyes of Pillow and then in conjunction with his surreal landscape. Stylish writing and a lot of fun to read.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was not good. The characters were basic and difficult to visualize or understand. The plot, protagonist's back story and references to the zoo were all weak. ...more
Neil McGee
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fresh period relevant read, I enjoyed and will seek out further material of Andrew Battershrill. 👍
Kayla Kurin
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While a treat for anyone interested in surrealist literature/art, the story is a dark spiral of mixed dream and reality that will leave an impression on any reader. Skeptical at first (I'm not usually one for violence), I came to really enjoy this book and the continued poor choices of the characters. ...more
Terri-Lynn Ross

I think I just didn't get this writer.....the writing was good, I did not enjoy the story.
That's all there is to it.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked aspects of this book a lot; the tale of a not-terribly bright, increasingly head-injured narrator is really very well done, and it had me rooting for him even though he does terrible, terrible things -- a terrific main character, really. But the other characters are just props -- and the surrealist references seem a little forced. I found the ending disappointing, too, unless I'm just not getting the reference. I think Andrew Battershill is pretty fabulous, though, and I look forward to ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it liked it
An edgy yet funny crime novel told through the lens of surrealism. I found it original, while also a nice homage to other writers of the genre. That said, there are moments that are needlessly disorienting to the reader and some of the jokes fall flat. Also, I think if I had a better grasp of surrealist thought I'd appreciate it more. Good first effort and I am curious where the author chooses to go creatively after this. ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Overall a disturbing book. Likely a glimpse into a CTE brain. Pillow is brilliant, but his brain can't be brilliant all the time. Sometimes all it can do is be present. I wanted to read the book but at the same time didn't want to read it; I know it would end badly for Pillow. The name Pillow was awkward by the way; I couldn't figure out what it signified for the character. I'm glad I don't have to be spending time with Pillow any more though I somehow feel guilty about that. ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
An okay book, it was hard to read, and frankly I only read it because the internet was out for a couple of days.
Adam Howse
rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2017
Sajni Lacey
rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2017
rated it liked it
Sep 11, 2015
Jen Zerkee
rated it it was ok
Sep 25, 2016
Beck M
rated it liked it
Dec 02, 2017
rated it did not like it
May 23, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Jun 09, 2016
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