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Fowlers End

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  21 reviews
To this wildly debased neighbourhood comes Daniel Laverock, a strong, proud, awesomely ugly man in search of employment. Thanks to his horrifying physiognomy, which conceals the softest of hearts, he wins a job as manager of a movie house. It is a flea pit, a vile retreat for predatory children, a place where thugs relax between felonies. Its owner, Sam Yudenow, is a sort ...more
Published 1957 by Simon and Schuster
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  97 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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K.J. Charles
That was genuinely hilarious. I was laughing out loud all the way through and highlighting so many quotes my ereader crashed.

A 1957 novel set in the 30s in an arse-end bit of London. Our narrator is a hopeless berk who gets a job in the grotesque Sam Yudenow's cinema as a chucker-out, and nonsense ensures. The plot is paper-thin but not the point: we're here for human absurdity turned up to 11, ridiculously good funny lines, and some truly baroque swearing. Everyone is appalling (I dare say you
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fowlers End is in London's outer suburbia and is quite possibly one of the most hellish places imaginable (geographically in the Edmonton/Ponders End area): a steel tube factory, a glass factory, the smokiest railway terminal in London, and a hideous chemical plant. It is in Fowlers End that Sam Yudenow, the proprietor of the Pantheon cinema, employs Daniel Laverock who, despite a ferocious appearance, is an educated middle class family failure, to manage the place.

The story is told from Daniel
Aamil Syed
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 130-challenge
I took this book up on a whim and I'm really glad that I did. This is my first Gerald Kersh book and I can safely say that it won't be my last. After a few pages of struggle to get used to the Cockneye slang and the manner of speaking of the natives of Fowler's End, this book was a good roller coaster ride; some introspection interspersed with the antics of some really weird characters that bring a lot of color to the story and add that dash of British humor that the I so like.

The story is about
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-lit
A great twentieth century writer and this is probably his best. Why he is out of favour is beyond me. Anthony Burgess said Fowler's End was "One of the best comic novels of the century, with Sam Yudenow as superb a creation (almost) as Falstaff."

The novel opens with Yudenow:

Snoring for air while he sipped and gulped at himself, talking between hastily swallowed mouthfuls of himself, fidgeting with a little blue bottle and a red rubber nose-dropper, Mr Yudenow said to me -

Well, if you want to fin
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of our encountered the author Gerald Kersh or any of his works. So, how did I come to choose this (obscure) book to read? Kersh was one of the authors featured in “Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared” by Christopher Fowler. I enjoy the eccentric elderly characters in Fowler’s Bryant & May series, and his description of Kersh’s writing intrigued me enough to add it to my “Want to Read” list in GoodReads.

"Fowlers End" was published in 1957, and the action takes place
Jul 20, 2009 rated it liked it
A strange, smart, fun and overly-long book. While not among Kersh's best, it still radiates real human heat and light, it still sparkles with keen wit and detail. While definitely from Kersh's later period (1957), Fowler's End seems to be in the transition period - before he went into stranger and more speculative territory, yet long after he ever had a chance to be a major literary star with his realistic war novels (which were great). His obscurity is because his subject matter is gritty, rob ...more
Jim Butler
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jim by: Lola Weitzman
A young friend who worked for Simon & Schuster (we were all young in those days) gave me an advance copy of this book and urged me to read it. I've been recommending it (and rereading it) ever since. ...more
Slagle Rock
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly entertaining read about the down-and-out/lunatic crowd of London’s lowest outskirt during the feel-good, happy times we now call the 1930s.
This was the first title I’ve read by Gerald Kersh but it won’t be the last. As other reviews here have suggested, the plot, in a conventional sense, is rather thin. Our hero Daniel Laverock is a daft young gentleman who takes a job managing a rough and tumble, skid row theater. His employer is a capitalistic schemer. The theater’s fix-it man is a tou
Andy Weston
Kersh’s novel is set in Fowlers End, an outer suburb of London's in the 1920s, and is typically suffering in the Depression, it’s steel tube factory, glass factory, the smokiest railway terminal in London, and a grim chemical plant. Sam Yudenow, the proprietor of the Pantheon cinema, employs Daniel Laverock who, despite an imposing appearance, is an educated middle man on hard times, to manage the place. There is a host of other colourful and distinctive characters that all play their part, but ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Best. Book. Ever.

I am, I admit, occasionally prone to hyperbole, nonetheless Fowlers End is an unjustly ignored masterpiece in my opinion.
Not much in the way of story. We have a young "homely" faced man, I quote.

"Perhaps you remember the old heavyweight boxer, the Chopping Block, George Cook of Australia. It was almost impossible to knock him out; consciousness and unconsciousness were all the same to him. He used to be one of the barriers that had to be passed before anyone got to be a runner-u
Emma Grove
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great comic novel set in London's East end- I've no idea why it's fallen so out of fashion and out of print. I only lend my copy when I'm 100% certain it will be lovingly returned. ...more
Frank Farrell
Gerald Kersh has been largely forgotten now, but was popular and prolific in his lifetime. I discovered him via The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction (I have a project: I am reading one book by every author in the collection).

I really enjoyed the comic tale of this motley crew.

As with one of the other Goodreads reviewers, I was reminded of A Confederacy of Dunces when reading it. If you enjoyed one you will probably enjoy the other.

The character Sam Yudenow was simply remarkable. The back of the book
Andy Ravenscroft
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a love or hate book. You'll either love the comic depictions of seedy London lives or you'll hate them. You'll either love the phonetically rendered dialogue or you'll hate it. You'll either love the wandering story arc, or you'll hate it. There isn't a middle ground.

The bottom line is that you'll probably never read a more lovingly rendered portrait of the arse-end of London. The only book that comes close to resembling it is The Confederacy of Dunces, partly for the way it delivers a t
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed passages (some very amusing ) but was constantly losing my way throughout the book with its bloated paragraphs of speech and mid 20th Londoner accent mimicking. At times the book moves into the past and the present without properly establishing the time period. I found it hard to understand the overall plot/point in the end. Maybe there wasnt one. *shrugs*

I like Kersh's short stories quite a lot more.
Guy Salvidge
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Don't come to Kersh looking for a plot. You won't find one. What you'll find instead is a meandering, dilatory, sometimes dribbling and often hilarious slice of gutter life in London in the 1930s. All his books are much the same. I've read four of them and I don't see why I ought not to read more. ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed the Jules Dassin film based on Kersh’s Night and the City, but this—my first Kersh novel—wasn’t great. I wish it was more evocative of 1930s London. The rambling comedic passages got draining after a while, too.
Tom Calvard
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very funny, poignant little oddity of a book, with flashes of genius. Dated and not to everyone's taste I'm sure, but a cockney 20th century classic. Kersh is very under-rated. Maybe all his novels don't hit the high notes, but Fowler's End is memorable and entertaining. ...more
John Higgins
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This might be my favourite book. It is an incredible feat of writing and Gerald Kersh is a man whose fingertips are full of fireworks. This book explodes of the page, stinking of humanity.
Gert-Jan Kramer
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
British humour at its irreverent best, with more than a touch of the burlesque and a slice of the seamy side of life in a run-down area of London during the Great Depression. Thank Gawd for Sam Yudenow, owner of the Pantheon, who keeps the poor scum of Fowlers End entertained with his silent cinema, and readers with his oft-hilarious ramblings about how to keep his "show biz empire" up and running.

At times it did feel a bit too silly for its own good, but an enjoyable read that kept me smiling a
Trevor Kenning
May 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Surprised I hadn't come across this writer before - saw a Simon Raven recommendation. Book a bit patchy and over reliant on heavily accented dialogue - which as in Confederacy of Dunces, I don't find particularly comic. However, it met my delight in the portrayal of the demi-monde ...more
May 24, 2007 rated it liked it
Lots of Cockney rhyming slang.
Martin Symons
rated it it was ok
Apr 10, 2010
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Chris Green
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mystery nut
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Tim Newton
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Mar 23, 2014
Cathy Chua
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Dec 15, 2009
Geoff Stewart
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Jan 17, 2020
sybille schiffmann
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Gerald Kersh was born in Teddington-on-Thames, near London, and, like so many writers, quit school to take on a series of jobs -- salesman, baker, fish-and-chips cook, nightclub bouncer, freelance newspaper reporter and at the same time was writing his first two novels.

In 1937, his third published novel, Night and the City, hurled him into the front ranks of young British writers. Twenty novels la

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“ Yudenow was a controlled panic of self-preservation on two uncertain legs; abject slave to a mad desire for what beasts know as blind survival.
A comical beast, I thought, but asked myself, 'Why prolong mere living for its own sake?' The question answered itself: 'Because a beast is blind.' In Yudenow's case, he was animated by nothing but a terror of Nothing, a horror of ceasing to be; by a hopeless desire to evade consequence and issue, parry cause and duck effect. But he had - and you can read it in the faces of defeated fighters, doglike to the verge of tears in the outer offices - the hope-against-hope that, by fiddling and scraping against all the odds of the world, his ringcraft might outmaneuver the inevitable.
And do you know what? There is the Spirit of Man in this - good, bad, or indifferent, a certain heroism.”
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