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The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  4,074 ratings  ·  466 reviews
Maxwell Sim seems to have hit rock bottom. Estranged from his father, newly divorced, unable to communicate with his only daughter, he realizes that while he may have seventy-four friends on Facebook, there is nobody in the world with whom he can actually share his problems. Then a business proposition comes his way - a strange exercise in corporate PR that will require hi ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 2011 by Viking (first published 2010)
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May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
Jonathan Coe gets a lot of attention in the Waterstones branch in Brussels. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact he wrote a book, Expo 58, set in this beautiful city which was incidentally the book through which I got to know him. Or maybe it's because he stayed in Brussels while writing the second book I read by him, which is the one I’m reviewing here. Whatever the reasons, I’m glad the local Waterstones management decided to put the Coe books with their eye-catching cover-art on centr ...more
B the BookAddict
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: most readers
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR recommendations
Shelves: fiction
The underlying theme in this novel is the culture in society these days of relying on electronic medium to maintain most social interface i.e. Facebook, twitter, IM, text, email, instagram etc and the question of how many of us actually communicate in face-to-face relationships.

Mankind has, as you may have noticed, become very inventive about devising new ways for people to avoid talking to each other and I'd been taking full advantage of the most recent ones. I would always send a text messag
João Carlos
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2017

”A Vida Privada de Maxwell Sim” - é o nono romance do escritor inglês Jonathan Coe (n. 1961) - uma história improvável, simultaneamente, absurda e extravagante, que começa numa disparatada proposta de trabalho que inclui uma viagem num Toyota Prius de Londres para as Ilhas Shetland, na Escócia, transportando um novo tipo de escovas de dentes ecológica, num trajecto longo e solitário.
É durante esse itinerário que o narrador – Maxwell Sim - estabelece uma peculiar conversação com “Emma”, a deslumb
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
To be honest, up until the final third of the book, I couldn't help feeling baffled by all the low ratings it has been getting. I was feeling positively hooked and really enjoying it, so I was thinking that maybe people were being too harsh on him or maybe everyone has set his three top novels as reference-points and expects all of his works to be of equal quality. I was bound to know, either way.

So, there's Maxwell Sim. A middle-aged man whose wife left him, taking their daughter with her and w
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-reino-unido, 4e
Alguns dos meus pensamentos enquanto metia o bedelho na vida privada de Max Sim:

... coitadinho do Sim! Abandonado pela mulher; com uma depressão de seis meses; tem setenta amigos no Facebook mas nenhum fala com ele. Está tão sozinho que ainda se vai apaixonar pelo GPS...

... outra vez a técnica (das fotografias) e o mesmo tema d'A Chuva Antes de Cair?

... que enfadonhas são estas conversas sobre Economia; instrumentos financeiros, spread, swap, mas a profissão da Poppy (facilitadora de adultério)
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Είμαι σχεδόν σίγουρη ότι όσοι έχουν διαβάσει Κόου θα διαφωνήσουν οπωσδήποτε με τα πέντε αστέρια που δίνω στο συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο. Όμως λίγο με νοιάζει τελικά διότι μετά το πρώτο του βιβλίο που διάβασα το τί ωραίο πλιάτσικο και τώρα αυτό, αποφάσισα ότι μου αρέσει ο Κόου!!! Το τί ωραίο πλιάτσικο η αλήθεια είναι ότι ευχαρίστως θα το ξαναδιάβαζα ενώ το συγκεκριμένο οχι. Θεωρώ ότι ο Κόου μάλλον είναι πολυσχιδής προσωπικότητα με μεγάλες ευαισθησίες για όλα τα θέματα του σύγχρονου βίου. Τα συναισθήματα ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
What a terrible terrible book. The plot involving selling green toothbrushes and the author's "quest" never gets off the ground. The ham-handed meditations on modern loneliness -- with references to Facebook, email, texting, shopping malls, and GPS systems -- are only not clunky and implausible when they are utterly cliched. That whole aspect of the book is written as if a wry old centenarian were manufacturing quips on "kids" (the kids in question are all late 40's) today for a Reader's Digest ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This is the first one of Coe's novels I ever read, four years ago, swiftly followed by all the rest with ne'er a dud among them.
I remembered that I enjoyed it very much but couldn't recall any of the plot, so I've had to re-read it to reassure myself it was as good as I previously thought ... I'm glad to say it is, but dismayed to realise I'm losing my marbles!

(2014 review)

Never ask an author where he gets his id
Ana Lúcia
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depois de ter lido “A Chuva Antes de Cair” e “A Vida Privada de Maxwell Sim”, ameaço tornar-me uma verdadeira fã de Jonathan Coe.
Este livro divertiu-me e ao mesmo tempo deixou-me irremediavelmente triste.
Trata-se de uma profunda, magnífica e completamente delirante reflexão, sobre o mundo em que vivemos.
Podemos relacionar-nos virtualmente com pessoas do mundo inteiro. Estamos todos interligados, sem fichas nem fios. Podemos estar sentados em nossas casas e com um clique comunicar com o mundo.
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I wanted to like this far more than I did, because the ideas it engaged -- loneliness and isolation in a mediated, online world -- are some of my most constant fascinations. But the novel felt overblown in ways that prevented me getting very invested. I really enjoyed the voice of Max, the narrator, and while the novel stayed in his head and his perspective, following him on his road trip, I was engaged. Unfortunately, the novel relies on a number of inserted "found" texts, which seemed a bit of ...more
Christopher James
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read once, oh, on the internet or somewhere, that laughter, as a behaviour, is an evolution of a snarl. Think of wolves. If there is a weak member of the pack, an individual who no longer contributes to the whole, the rest will turn on them. They pull back their lips, to reveal their teeth, and make deep resonant sounds. I can see how this is like a laugh.

And laughter can be threatening, especially to the one who receives it.

But somehow, in the course of human evolution, we have come to love
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ogni giorno andiamo in giro in mezzo alla ressa, corriamo di qua e di là, arriviamo quasi a toccarci ma in realtà c'è pochissimo contatto. Tutti quegli scontri mancati. Tutte quelle possibilità perse. È inquietante, a pensarci bene. Forse è meglio non pensarci affatto.


Ogni giorno andiamo in giro in mezzo alla ressa, corriamo di qua e di là, arriviamo quasi a toccarci ma in realtà c'è pochissimo contatto. Tutti quegli scontri mancati. Tutte quelle possibilità perse. È inquietante, a pensarc
Maria João Fernandes
"Movemo-nos em círculos todos os dias, corremos daqui para ali, passamos a centímetros uns dos outros, mas há muito pouco contacto real. Tantos desencontros. Tantos 'podia ter sido'. É assustador, quando pensamos nisso. Provavelmente, o melhor é não pensar."

Maxwell Sim (como os cartões SIM do telemóvel) tem 70 e tal amigos no Facebook, mas ninguém se lembra dele ou dá pela sua ausência; tem mais de 100 e-mails, mas apenas um não é spam.

Jonathan Coe conta-nos mais uma história maravilhosa: diver
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: barefoot.julie
Shelves: read2012
This took me a good 100 pages to really get into. I liked the character of Maxwell Sim, in fact he seemed very familiar to me, but I'm not sure the author really knew what to do with him. His story meanders between memories of his youth to his struggle with depression (which, incredibly, seems to come with 6 months paid leave in the UK, at least in this story) to the related stories that others have told. Actually the related stories are probably the most cohesive parts, making me think I'd real ...more
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It was so well written and oddly gripping and quirky -- despite the fact that it's about loneliness and not much happens. The narrator's voice was bang on. My only complaint -- and reason for 4 rather than 5 stars -- was that the ending was somewhat hokey and unnecessarily so.

Oy. If I have to read one more book about a middle-aged British man who hates his life but is clueless that he brought it on himself, or that he has the power to change it, I may have to just punch the next middle-aged British man I run across.
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Desde la primera página, la novela de Jonathan Coe te atrapa: empezamos sabiendo que un vendedor ha sido encontrado al borde de la hipotermia en su coche, desnudo y rodeado de curiosos objetos, para pasar a continuación a la historia en sí, donde Maxwell Sim está en un restaurante de Sidney observando como una mujer y su hija juegan a las cartas, observando la intimidad que hay entre ellas, algo que Max echa en falta, y que le hace darse cuenta de lo solo que está.

‘La espantosa intimidad de Maxw
Margherita Dolcevita
Non so bene cosa scrivere (e quando inizio una recensione così probabilmente sarà lunga come la Quaresima).
Impressione finale: mi è piaciuto. Ho chiuso il romanzo, 362 pagine, e sono rimasta abbastanza soddisfatta.
Ma partiamo dall'inizio. Inizia male, sarà che mi aspettavo qualcosa d'altro (ovvero che iniziasse quasi dalla fine, oh d'altronde la sinossi presente ovunque parte da quella!) ma ho fatto molta fatica a leggere le prime 30 pagine, che di per sé sono poche ma se non ti convincono semb
Carolina Paiva
Este foi o primeiro livro que li do autor, uma escolha impulsiva, feita maioritariamente com base no título do livro. Por vezes não há nenhuma razão específica para comprarmos um livro (e não tem que haver, não é verdade?). Não será um livro que me ficará na memória, penso que precisava de ser mais amadurecido antes de ser publicado. Não me senti envolvida e muitas vezes achei a trama artificial. Os acontecimentos mais interessantes do livro são colocados sem qualquer justificação, razão ou obje ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)

Tonight I finally get to meet Jonathan Coe as he makes a stop on his very short book tour across North America to promote the stateside release of his latest work, “The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim” which saw its initial release in the U.K. last summer.

I’ve got to say that I’m more than excited. Coe’s body of work is nothing short of stunning. He’s a master storyteller with a gift for writing rich, believable, thoughtful characters of both sexes. Over
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
The titular character of this low-key character study is an Englishman in his late 40s who has been understandably mired in deep depression for the six months since his wife and teenage daughter left him. He's an epically milquetoast fellow who seems perpetually three steps slower than the modern world, and whose job (customer service clerk for a department store returns division) is a very telling marker of his absolute meaninglessness. He's the kind of guy who, when he does start sharing his i ...more
Jul 04, 2010 rated it liked it
First off, I love Jonathan Coe. In fact, I think he is one of the greatest authors I've ever come across. There hasn't been another author who has managed to move me to the extent in which his writing has. Having said that, the Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim is not one of Coe's gems, in my opinion.

The usual suspects are there: social commentary, wittiness, humour and sadness however, the juggling of these elements, which Coe normally does so well, does not quite work here. In fact, it was quit
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-read-2011
I do like Jonathan Coe, but I have to admit I've not hugely enjoyed some of his recent novels. For me, it's been downhill ever since The House of Sleep.

But anyway...

I found Maxwell Sim a fairly dull, exasperating narrator. I thought he was too useless and hapless to be really engaging. And so I really didn't care much about the story. So what if his father was secretly gay? So what if he himself turns out to be secretly gay (and yet has been relentlessly captivated by women throughout the book?
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mr-j-coe
Jari Van den bossche
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won’t mince matters. The terrible privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read (that’s why I also gave it five stars). I have to admit that it’s had been a while since I enjoyed reading so much. To be honest, this books brought the pleasure of reading books, enjoying them, back to me.
It was so engaging and enjoyable though the book is actually not about subjects that’ll make you happy. It is about this middle-aged man who’s called Maxwell Sim (surpri
Fondamentalmente l'ho trovato un po' confusionario e una imitazione di uno stile "alla buona" tipo Dickens. Anche il finale a sorpresa non è stato un granché. Probabilmente non dovevo iniziare da qui la mia conoscenza con Coe, ma di certo credo che comunque non mi sarebbe piaciuto lo stesso. Sarà per il prossimo Coe...
Sarah83 L
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litsyatoz
Ein kleiner Roadmovietrip über die Wirren des Alltags und des Scheitern. Es enthält weiterhin kleines feine Kritiken an unserer heutigen Zeit und an dem Leben,was viele führen.
Sehr zu empfehlen für Leute, die Harold Fry mochten.
Yves Gounin
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Gros coup de coeur pour le dernier roman de Jonathan Coe, un auteur dont les précédents livres, en dépit du succès remporté, ne m'avaient pas encore conquis ("Testament à l'anglaise" m'avait beaucoup déçu)
Son héros est un anti-héros. Maxwell Sim, la quarantaine bien entamée, a perdu son boulot, sa femme, sa fille et sa mère (en ce qui concerne sa mère, la perte est définitive puisqu'elle est morte). Il n'a plus guère de contact avec son père parti vivre en Australie où s'ouvre - avant de se clo
Carol Fenlon
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A typical entry into the crazy literary world of Jonathan Coe, this book doesn't disappoint with Coe's usual play with form, digression, stories within stories and metafiction, delivered with hugely comic panache but at the same time imbuing the major characters with pathos and a powerlessness with which most ordinary mortals can identify. If there is a problem it is that Coe's facility with the English language and literary form, his ability to twist and turn the narrative in so many different ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please, add page count 2 188 Sep 22, 2017 11:33AM  
Very disappointing 3 54 Jul 21, 2013 11:54AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Coe, born 19 August 1961 in Birmingham, is a British novelist and writer. His work usually has an underlying preoccupation with political issues, although this serious engagement is often expressed comically in the form of satire. For example, What a Carve Up! rew
“I was going to say 'my friend Stuart', but I suppose he's not a friend any more. I seem to have lost a number of friends in the last few years. I don't mean that I've fallen out with them, in any dramatic way. We've just decided not to stay in touch. And that's what it's been: a decision, a conscious decision, because it's not difficult to stay in touch with people nowadays, there are so many different ways of doing it. But as you get older, I think that some friendships start to feel increasingly redundant. You just find yourself asking, "What's the point?" And then you stop.” 8 likes
“As for human contact, I'd lost all appetite for it. Mankind has, as you may have noticed, become very inventive about devising new ways for people to avoid talking to each other and I'd been taking full advantage of the most recent ones. I would always send a text message rather than speak to someone on the phone. Rather than meeting with any of my friends, I would post cheerful, ironically worded status updates on Facebook, to show them all what a busy life I was leading. And presumably people had been enjoying them, because I'd got more than seventy friends on Facebook now, most of them complete strangers. But actual, face-to-face, let's-meet-for-a-coffee-and-catch-up sort of contact? I seemed to have forgotten what that was all about.” 6 likes
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