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The Glister

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  839 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Since George Lister’s chemical plant closed down, Innertown has been a shadow of its former self. In the woods that once teemed with life, strange sickly plants grow. Homes that were once happy are threatened by a mysterious illness.

Here, a young boy named Leonard and his friends exist in a state of confusion and despair, as every year or so a boy from their school vanishe
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Nan A. Talese (first published May 1st 2008)
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Annie Rosewood
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An average of 3.05? Did we read the same novel?!

I've taken a few days since finishing The Glister to think about it and come down from my excitable state, so that this review didn't read like an incomprehensible smattering of "oh wow!" and "brilliant!". This was only my second Burnside novel, but I feel confident in saying that he is one of my favourite contemporary authors. He writes with such mastery, and the way that he illustrates Innertown and its ghostly, menacing atmosphere is distinct an
I feel pretty much slap bang in the middle with this one, and that's a bit disappointing if I'm honest. My second foray into Burnside's work was almost a year in the making, and I had high hopes for Glister as apparently it's the writer's favourite of the books he's written. I just found it ultimately to be a bit of a let down.

I'm not sure how to summarize the story, because I didn't really feel like there was much of one really. We follow a couple of different people's perspectives, but for the
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
John Burnside’s The Glister opens in a modern day ghost town. The chemical plant that once fused the city with life and prosperity has been closed and left to rot. Everything in the town can be described as dead and deformed. The town’s adults are apathetic, depressed and diseased. The children are violent, promiscuous, and haunted. But no one ever leaves the town, unless of course, they disappear.

This book is not a typical horror or mystery novel. It’s more of a very long dark fable complete w
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
Billed as a horror novel, this bizarre novel goes nowhere frightening or even ... coherent. Trying to be "abstract" it succeeds only in revealing there are no ideas at the core of this "story."
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, dont-like, scotland
Disappointed. Was not sure of what exactly went on at the end.
The Dumb House was so much better than this one.
Oct 21, 2010 rated it liked it
The Glister is a story about a once-industrial town, specializing in chemical production, known as Innertown. Now, Innertown is not a place anyone with a right mind would want to live in; the kids are violent with practically no morals, and the adults are either too sick from unknown illnesses or too tired of life to care. And not to mention, approximately every year or so, a boy disappears. Authorities turn a blind eye to this, as does the town’s only policeman, and the inhabitants are fed tran ...more
May 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, kindle, ebook
This is one of those books that I want to rank on two completely different scales - one for atmosphere and one for story.

On the former, The Glister gets a fantastic score, 4 or even 5. A sort of literary horror, the whole work is laid over with a subtle, sinister edge. The nearly feral teenagers, the remains of the chemical plant poisoning not only the land but the people, physically and psychologically was done with sinister and often subtle edge and a dreamlike quality.

The initial set-up was
Mary Crabtree
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
There are moments of recognition, when I turned a page in "The Glister" and had the sense of reading this in a book or seeing this on the big screen before. I felt that "ah ha" moment when a murder scene had elements of "Blair Witch Project" or when a pack of children went all "Lord of the Flies" in the black and poisoned forest of Innertown. I may not be a big fan of this sort of novel but "The Glister" pulled me in with the surprise of great dialogue, a strong central character and depth of st ...more
Jun 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror
I thought it was well written, but at the same time it is a short story that is about 150 pages too long. I kept reading, hoping that something would happen, something related to the premise of the story. When it finally did I was unimpressed and very disappointed. I wish I had followed my gut feeling about this one and stopped after the first 50 pages.
Horace Derwent
it's not a horror novel, but more like a horror novel to me

some echoes just ring a bell like what the late mr. piccirilli's a choir of ill children did me before
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Angela by: nytimes review
A richly populated, flawlessly descriptive story, The Glister is a slow-moving but fascinating (and repeatedly hilarious) novel that tells the story of broken Innertown, a working-class area where the town's only business, a chemical plant with a dubious environmental record, has long shut down and plunged the town into darkness.

The Glister is neither a traditional horror story or mystery novel, although there's plenty of horror and mystery to it. Burnside creates a Hitchcockian atmosphere of s
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-2009
I'm a fan of John Burnside's writing. I enjoy his pieces in the LRB and recall enjoying his novel 'The Dumb House' when I read it a few years ago.

I had high hopes for this novel. And I did enjoy it a lot. I liked the creepy otherworldlyness of the setting. It felt normal and yet also very strange. It reminded me a bit of Michael Faber's 'Under the Skin'. You recognise the place and the people but something doesn't feel quite right.

I like the ever present tension. But I found myself getting frus
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Blisteringly disturbing, creepy, and sometimes shocking: it made me twitch mentally, and once or twice a bit physically too.

Geoff Wooldridge
There is a little of Stephen King in this tale of mysterious events in an unidentified location, referred to only as Innertown and Outertown, Adjacent these isolated towns is an abandoned chemical plant, once the lifeblood of the community, until its dire effects on the health of the local population became all too apparent.

Now teenage boys are disappearing, and there seems to be a cover-up involving a wealthy local businessman and an incompetent policeman.

After a poor beginning, I became more e
Jamie Rawlings
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Wild and ambling, interesting in that it eschews expectations, shifting rapidly in genre and tone. Great descriptions of the chemical plant and city and so on. The narrator's obsession with high school literature seems empty though, could be entirely cut and nothing would be lost, instead it's presence seems a bit mastabatory. Others won't like it as it doesn't deliver on its mystery and the ending trails off, to be honest. It seems defying convention for the sake of defying it doesn't actually ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglesi
"E' sempre estate, in un luogo o in un altro, per qualcuno."

Un poliziotto che sconta la sua accelerata nomina con il più grave dei peccati, l'omertà; un imprenditore sinistro che segue fedelmente la sua specifica e personale morale; una donna alcolizzata e mezza pazza, vittima delle visioni di una mente che non riconosce più come propria; un vecchio guardone, bambino dentro, che vive ai limiti della cittadina e della società; una banda di ragazzini troppo annoiati per passare per teppisti; un ad
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Im Gegensatz zu den anderen drei Romanen, die ich von Burnside gelesen habe, wird hier nicht alles aus Sicht einer einzigen, recht zurückgezogen lebenden Person erzählt. Stattdessen wird die Geschichte, die sich zu einer Art Ökothriller zu entwickeln scheint, aus der Perspektive verschiedener Personen erzählt.

Zentral ist aber die Perspektive des Jungen Leonard Wilson, der als Erzähler bereits im Prolog erscheint. Dort behauptet er, in dieser Geschichte Leonard zu heißen. Da beide Motti, die dem
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange, dark little novel.
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
A good summary from Amazon by Jon Foro:
George Lister's secretive chemical plant fueled Innertown's economy for decades, but since its closure, its legacies are poverty, clusters of rare cancers, and a local wilderness populated with rumors of an unnatural selection of misshapen wildlife. When Mark Wilkinson--the first of several teen-aged boys to disappear every 12-18 in the coming years--is found hanged in the "poison woods" over a bizarre shrine of boughs, glass, and tinsel, the town constabl
I am of two minds about this book. First of all, the story is disturbing: teenage boys keep disappearing from a forsaken Scottish town, and the town's only constable is involved in a cover up of the first boy's cult-like ritualistic murder. I stopped reading, though, when the latest victim's friends start to take matters into their own hands and brutally beat to death the innocent but creepy loner on who lives on the edge of the forest.

But the English major in me was drawn to the charactarizati
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Kinda odd but an interesting, relatively short read. REALLY great lyrical writing saves it from being over the top and just not enough of any one type of topic/type of book/type of story. Hard to describe. Oh, and super creepy art!

"The definition of a page-turner really aught to be that this page is so good, you can't bear to leave it behind, but then the next page is there and it might be just as amazing as this one."

"That's the wonderful thing with nerds: they're enthusiasts. Not having a life
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Glister is classified as a mystery and in some ways that fits, but there is no solution to the crimes. There is however a lot of wonderful commentary on the absurdities of life, and on books. Parts of the Glister are hilarious, in fact. Burnside is a poet and this shows in the biting imagery in almost every sentence. He tends to write dark books, which seems in keeping with modern Scottish writers I've read.
Jun 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
Didn't like this book. Thought it was going to be a well-written, suspenseful mystery. While it was somewhat well written (I enjoyed the visual details), it was more surreal and fantasy. I also didn't find the characters interesting or well developed.
Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fascinating dark fable of a city where no one actually leaves but in which young boys frequently disappear.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
The description of this book had me expecting a creepy, chilling horror novel about the disappearances of young boys in a derelict factory town. The atmosphere of this novel is truly incredible; there is not a moment where you don't feel the dread and despair of the town and the characters who live there. It's so heavy and clinging that at times you can't be certain that this takes place in the real world. It could easily be a nightmare, an alternate reality, or Purgatory. Full marks for flavor ...more
Sarah Kingston
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glister was a novel which I did not expect to love as much as I did. Not only that, but while I was reading it I did not love it as much as I now do. It is one of those novels where it isn't until you have turned the final page and the final piece of the puzzle has clicked into place that you realise how brilliant the total image is.

The book is set in the strange semi-dystopian landscape of some old industrial suburb, where the remains of an old chemical plant rust away and dominate the landscap
Alessandro Pontorno
La scrittura ora elegante, ora ruvida di John Burnside conduce il lettore attraverso le 307 pagine di questo giallo atipico in cui non assistiamo al delitto, non c'è un vero e proprio investigatore, il "cattivo" di turno aleggia sull'intera vicenda ma agisce molto poco e non c'è -sic!- nemmeno una ricostruzione dei fatti.
Le storie dei protagonisti sembrano narrate quasi come racconti separati tra loro e ciò mi fa pensare che: a) era un preciso desiderio dell'autore b) il progetto originale del r
Jo Bullen
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This rattled along, felt a bit Catcher-in-the-Rye-esque and then I have no idea what happened in the end.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Still have to think on this one
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John Burnside is the author of nine collections of poetry and five works of fiction. Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim, winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T. S. Eliot prizes. Born in Scotland, he moved away in 1965, returning to settle there in 1995. In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand, a labour ...more

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“That's the wonderful thing with nerds: they're enthusiasts. Not having a life means you get to love things with a passion and nobody bothers you about it.” 89 likes
“The definition of a page-turner really aught to be that this page is so good, you can't bear to leave it behind, but then the next page is there and it might be just as amazing as this one.” 6 likes
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