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Glister

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  942 ratings  ·  156 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 vanish

...more
Audio CD, 7 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published May 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  942 ratings  ·  156 reviews


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Annie
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
...more
Vanessa
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
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Sara
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Dean
Jun 28, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bj
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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."
Clara
Oct 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tracy
May 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ebook, kindle
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
...more
Mary Crabtree
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
F
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, scotland
Disappointed. Was not sure of what exactly went on at the end.
The Dumb House was so much better than this one.
Lori
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, downloads
A disappointment overall, but only because I was expecting it to be a little... more?

I'm straight down the middle with it, from a rating perspective. There were some amazing and highly quotable lines, so I was able to up my kindle-highlight game a bit since I was reading the mobi version. (sidenote: thank GOD I picked up the kindle version for cheap when it went up on sale.) And the book maintained most of its creepy nature, though at a terribly slow, plodding pace. I was extremely careful when
...more
Lucille
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Blisteringly disturbing, creepy, and sometimes shocking: it made me twitch mentally, and once or twice a bit physically too.

Graham Wilhauk
At first, I was confused why this book has such a LOW rating. I really liked the first 50 or so pages! However, as I got more and more into the book, I realized why people rated it so low. While it's not AWFUL, it definitely is NOT good. It pretty much is John Burnside starting a story and then him just enjoying his gift at writing for 150 or so pages. While it's not as bad as the ratings might suggest, it still is not that good. Let's just say that I'm worried that Burnside will be a one hit wo ...more
Angela
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Claire
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this read, as it was a spur of the moment gamble in the bookshop but it’s definitely paid off.

I can understand why there are a lot of middling reviews for this book, as plot-wise you’re not going to get a neatly concluded story with all the loose ends tied together. The blurb on the back of the book reads like a crime novel, but you’re getting something else completely.

Glister is unsettling, darkly atmospheric and dreamlike. This world is a horrible
...more
sisterimapoet
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
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Heidi
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
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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
Jim
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
where to start?!? much of the spartan plot is given to the reader in the synopsis, so what is left but to solve the mystery, assign guilt, and pass sentence? um, not so fast... this was another fabulously written book by Burnside, an author who somehow escaped by attention for a long time but has rewarded me with four intriguing, if enigmatic, books... by the time i finished this one, i was left with a strange feeling i not being entirely sure what happened, but loving it all the same... a myria ...more
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
...more
Rob Stainton
I was about a quarter of the way through this book when I noticed the low ratings. I couldn't believe it. I thought: "This is brilliant".

Well, but... As another reviewer put it, it ultimately reads like a brilliant 75 page short story embedded in... I'm not sure what. A few other good short stories, mostly describing characters who aren't directly involved in the action in the main one? And what of the so-called "ending"?

Ultimately, the middling score seems to be just about right.
Jamie Rawlings
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
Corey
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange, dark little novel.
James
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Danial Tanvir
Dec 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this was just okay.it was nothing great.
some one gave it to me to read.
it is actually about a 15 years old boy growing up in an unnamed town.
his name is leonard wilson.
the town he lives in his called innertown and it is a part industirial ruin.
he has a relation ship with a girl called elspeth and the story revolves around that.
then strange things starts happening in innertown .
young teenagers start to go missing in that city and they are no where to be found.
different people suggest different th
...more
Silverluna78
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
...more
Karen
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bridget
Jun 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
jen8998
Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating dark fable of a city where no one actually leaves but in which young boys frequently disappear.
JL
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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