The Late Hector Kipling

( 4 )

Overview

Hector Kipling is a famous artist. But Hector is not as famous as his best friend, Lenny Snook. And as they are standing in the Tate Gallery one afternoon, Hector's life begins to unravel. For a painter, this existential crisis is the place from which great art is born. If the painter happens to be a forty-three-year-old man with a girlfriend away from home, it is the recipe for disaster.

Soon it's all Hector can do to keep it together — between his therapist who shows up drunk ...

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The Late Hector Kipling: A Novel

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Overview

Hector Kipling is a famous artist. But Hector is not as famous as his best friend, Lenny Snook. And as they are standing in the Tate Gallery one afternoon, Hector's life begins to unravel. For a painter, this existential crisis is the place from which great art is born. If the painter happens to be a forty-three-year-old man with a girlfriend away from home, it is the recipe for disaster.

Soon it's all Hector can do to keep it together — between his therapist who shows up drunk at a party and introduces herself to his parents, an irresistible young female poet with a terrifying taste for S&M, and a deranged stalker with an oil-and-canvas-inspired vendetta, just trying to cope is enough to make a man cry.

As the events in his life threaten to drive him toward full-blown dementia, Hector finds himself in a bizarre and murderous pursuit of a man threatening to kill him in return, spiraling into a hysterically surreal Hitchcocklike thriller — the story of how a man can become desperate enough to shoot his way out of a midlife crisis.

At turns warm, witty, and joyfully absurd, David Thewlis's wicked comedy marks the debut of a savagely funny and observant literary talent.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"David Thewlis has written an extraordinarily good novel that is not only brilliant in its own right but which stands proudly beside his work as an actor, no mean boast. He is the epitome of the true Renaissance man. A hero of mine." — Billy Connolly

"[A] laugh-out-loud, darkly intelligent debut...a thought-provoking skewering of modern art by a knowledgeable writer and an inescapably doomed but appealing hero." — Publishers Weekly

"[The Late Hector Kipling] is a rollicking, no-corpsesbarred black comedy...the art-world milieu is deftly handled, and there's a splendidly mean and morbid wit at play.... Thewlis has talent." — Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This laugh-out-loud, darkly intelligent debut suggests that Thewlis might meet with considerable success should he decide to quit acting and take up the pen full-time. London artist Hector Kipling paints huge canvases dominated by a single head. He's doing well, but he's not nearly as famous as his best friend, conceptualist Lenny Snook. Eaten up by jealousy, Hector believes that Lenny has made his fortune with stolen ideas. As Hector struggles to cope with an absent girlfriend, his parents' insane expenditures and a vandal attacking his most valuable painting, things begin to go very wrong indeed. Readers who have mourned the end of Sue Townsend's wonderful, long-running Adrian Mole series will find solace of a sort here, as will anyone who enjoys a thought-provoking skewering of modern art by a knowledgeable writer and an inescapably doomed but appealing hero. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Hector Kipling is a twit, and a twit in the throes of a mid-life meltdown is never pretty. After meeting a couple of mates and fellow artists at London's Tate Modern-one has been short-listed for the Turner Prize, the other is doing brilliant things with large pictures of cutlery-Hector is torn apart by jealousy. Then his beautiful Greek girlfriend is summoned home to care for a stricken parent, and he falls (and how!) for the multiple charms of a kinky American poetess. When he awakens to find that poetess setting fire to his nipple, it's almost enough to make him question the wisdom of his behavior. This insider's satirical glance into the London art scene clicks when it skewers artist Tracey Emin's infamous unmade bed and depicts Gilbert & George doing something strange with each other's fingers. The rest of the book is good for a few grins. First-time novelist Thewlis's career as an actor-known for his roles in both art films (Naked) and as Professor Lupin in the Harry Potterfranchise-ensures interest; recommended for larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ7/07.]
—Bob Lunn

Kirkus Reviews
The first novel from actor Thewlis (best actor winner at Cannes for Mike Leigh's Naked) is a rollicking, no-corpses-barred black comedy set in the London art world. Well-regarded painter Hector Kipling has reached a plateau. His enormous portraits command top prices, but lately his longtime pal and rival, Lenny Snook, a conceptual artist, has eclipsed him in fame. Hector's romance with Eleni is calm and happy, but doesn't calm and happy mean stultifying, perilously close to bourgeois? What he needs, he muses, is a little death. Thewlis delivers a few little deaths (see Hector's disastrous fling with an American poet who favors sex games involving lighters and knives), but his main preoccupation is the bigger kind, and death doesn't come half-stepping: Suddenly Hector's artist friend Kirk is terminal, likewise Eleni's mother in Greece, likewise Hector's father, and before long Hector's life, personal and professional, goes into a death spiral. Alas, his sufferings are as stylized as opera, or slapstick (in one scene Hector, naked, dangles from a drainpipe outside the window of the deranged madman/dandy/sex-abuse victim who's out to kill him). But the art-world milieu is deftly handled, and there's a splendidly mean and morbid wit at play in this antic account of a man whose life seems a "drunken collaboration between Feydeau and Dante."Though it ultimately doesn't satisfy as either tragedy or farce, this is far more than an actor's vanity project: Thewlis has talent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416541219
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/6/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,438,556
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Thewlis is an actor, writer, and director. He has appeared in numerous films, including Paul Auster's The Inner Life of Martin Frost, The Omen, Kingdom of Heaven, Seven Years in Tibet, The Big Lebowski, Gangster No. 1, and Naked (directed by Mike Leigh), for which he won Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He has also appeared as Professor Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; he will reprise that role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Thewlis is originally from Blackpool, England. This is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The best come from the unexpected.

    I'll be the first to admit that I bought this book purely to see if David Thewlis' talent extended off the screen. I'll also be the first to say that it more than does.

    Hector Kipling is the kind of man that you love, sympathize for, and that exasperates you. Kipling's character goes beyond Thewlis' words to live the life that you wish to observe but never want, complete with tragedy, romance, and drama. I promise you that you will laugh, cry, and exhibit incredible self restraint when you stop yourself from throwing the book away in frustration.

    However, you shouldn't read the book if you are uncomfortable with some...-now, how do I say this without giving anything away?- uncomfortable and blunt, for lack of a better word, thought.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2008

    'The Ugly Can be Beautiful, the Pretty, never.'

    Like the protagonist's (Hector Kipling) favorite Gauguin quote (used in the title of this review), David Thewlis's grandiose modern art satire is not a book that will appeal to everyone as eloquent prose (the book is peppered with swearing) or a credible storyline (but that's the whole point of a farce after all), yet with his manic witty writing style it truly is a wonderful writing debut. Thewlis may be an actor originally, but the man could be a modern artist. He clearly knows the world he is writing about & despite how he is making fun of the modern art scene it never feels like a cheap shot joke, but the well studied satire it actually is. Hector Kipling is by no means a starving artist, rather he is successful with his disturbing paintings of faces, but he isn't nearly as famous as his friend Lenny, something that continually irks him along with the fact that he hasn't led a 'hard' enough life to truly be the artist he could be. So of course Hector gets his wish- with his loving girl friend out of town, Hector loses all control on his sanity & for somewhat of a good reason: he has a homicidal stalker, a narcissistic shrink, overly nervous batty parents, & a goth poet who is obsessed with him. All of this becomes too much for Hector to cope with thus resulting in an over the top catastrophic downfall. However due to Thewlis's snappy smart clearly well-read writing we still find ourselves actually rooting for Hector to sort it all out. And the best part, the whole novel is a hilarious black comedy. Thewlis is quite funny, quite intelligent, and quite a talented writer even if he stretches our belief sometimes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    David Thewlis has a way with words. If words were a woman they would fall at his feet in complete surrender! From the first chapter on I was totally captivated by the world of Hector Kipling. At first I was all about Hector. I even understood his resentment of the less talented yet more successful artist Lenny Snook,albeit Lenny is his best friend. He's only human, right? I was really pulling for Hector. Even as he began to self-destruct I was pulling for him to get it together. After a while my affection for Hector turned to annoyance. The desire to snatch him up and slap him silly overcame my desire for him to rally. Though I have read criticism of the ending I felt it was brilliant, and really, for Hector, the only logical thing to do. Thewlis¿ writing has a natural flow that just sweeps you along. Do yourself a tremendous favor¿READ THIS NOVEL! I enjoyed it so much I have read it twice within a month¿s time. This book is a treat in which I strongly suggest you indulge! I have but one question...when will David Thewlis write another novel?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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