Arcadia

Arcadia

by Jim Crace
     
 

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Victor, an eighty-year-old multimillionaire, surveys his empire from the remoteness of his cloud-capped penthouse. Expensively insulated from the outside world, he nonetheless finds that memories of his impoverished childhood will not be kept so easily at bay. Focusing on the one area of vitality and chaos that remains in the streets below him, he formulates a plan to…  See more details below

Overview

Victor, an eighty-year-old multimillionaire, surveys his empire from the remoteness of his cloud-capped penthouse. Expensively insulated from the outside world, he nonetheless finds that memories of his impoverished childhood will not be kept so easily at bay. Focusing on the one area of vitality and chaos that remains in the streets below him, he formulates a plan to leave a mark on the city – one as indelible and disruptive as the mark the city left on him.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British novelist Crace again proves himself an assured storyteller and master craftsman in his third novel, a sardonic, witty morality tale. Moreover, he seems a brilliant chameleon. His previous books, Continent and The Gift of Stones (both acclaimed by reviewers) were different from each other in style, tone, and technique, and in this one too, he strikes out in new directions as he propells a mesmerizing narrative bristling with ironic asides. Victor is an aged, eccentric millionaire who has come far from his origins as the child of a beggar woman in an unnamed British city's marketplace. Now he owns the entire area, called the Soap Market, but has removed himself from the world and rarely ventures forth from his penthouse office. His trusted minion, Rook, himself a child of country parents, has grown devious and greedy, and demands bribes from the greengrocers; Victor sacks him when he discovers the man's treachery. Rook's desire for vengeance jeopardizes Victor's plan to ``share'' his millions by building a modern, glass-enclosed marketplace, which a pretentious Italian architect dubs Arcadia. Crace's theme here is the way cities corrupt men who grow sophisticated and wealthy. Arcadia--``a rustic paradise''-- can never be re-created in an urban setting; progress sweeps away the enriching past and puts people at a remove from the natural world. Crace does not falsely sentimentalize his country characters, however; they are merely less shrewd than their arrogant urban counterparts. His prose is energetic and sensuous, teeming with apt and stunning imagery. The narrative does not falter until its final pages, when its unalloyed mordancy begins to seem overdone. But this is a small flaw in an otherwise brilliant work. Major ad/promo. (Oct.) .
Library Journal
Victor, a reclusive millionaire celebrating his 80th birthday, is about to unveil his latest commercial venture--a high-tech, climate-controlled, plant-filled, fruit-and-vegetable mall called Arcadia; that is, if the city preservationists do not stop him. Arcadia is to be built on the site of the historic ``Soap Market,'' a blighted neighborhood where Victor himself was raised. Paradoxically, urban development in this case will re-create a rural ambience. More an extended prose poem than a novel, Arcadia reworks traditional pastoral imagery to subvert the dichotomy of town and country. Although countless passages of lush description beg to be read aloud, the overall effect of Crace's aggressive lyricism is somewhat numbing. A rich confection best sampled in small doses. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/92.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780880015301
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/1997
Edition description:
1ST ECCO E
Pages:
311
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

Jim Crace is the author of Continent, The Gift of Stones, and Arcadia. He has won the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the David Higham Prize, and the Guardian Fiction Award. He lives in Birmingham, England.

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