Magnificent Joe by James Wheatley | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Magnificent Joe
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Magnificent Joe

4.0 3
by James Wheatley
     
 

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Recently released from prison, Jim is welcomed back by his childhood mates to the northern working-class town where he grew up. With no alternative, Jim falls in step with their lives: working down the building site, pub, sleep. No time to regret the future that could have been had he not taken that punch and killed that boy. The only glimmer of warmth amid

Overview


Recently released from prison, Jim is welcomed back by his childhood mates to the northern working-class town where he grew up. With no alternative, Jim falls in step with their lives: working down the building site, pub, sleep. No time to regret the future that could have been had he not taken that punch and killed that boy. The only glimmer of warmth amid the tough grind is his friendship with Joe, a man with severe learning difficulties who is regarded with suspicion by the rest of the community. But when Joe is falsely accused of a crime, Jim must break the claustrophobic confines of his life and take drastic action in order to protect him.

With his spare and powerful prose, James Wheatley has crafted a brilliantly compelling, often dark, and frequently funny novel about how an extraordinary friendship can offer redemption and help rebuild a life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This fine first book, half bildungsroman and half "state of England" novel, tells the story of Jim and his mates growing up in a village in the north of England. The titular Joe is "mental"—a British slang for a kind of learning disorder or mental disability—a and prone to refer to things he likes as "magnificent." After an oblique, elliptical prologue, the story kicks off in October, 2004 with Jim and his high-school friends working construction, their lives revolving around work and the pub. The slightly bookish Jim used to have academic potential, but a flashback relates how an adolescent fight landed him in prison for several years. Now the 30-something is trying to make sense of his life again. He is disaffected, but not irredeemably so. He continues to read and generously helps pitiful Joe ("a slow shambles of a man") and his aging mother ("Mrs. Joe") when he has a chance. The book contains all manner of drama: a massive lottery prize, painful past histories, a deadly work accident. Joe's story, although at times teetering on the melodramatic, is full of passion and pathos, and Wheatley can sure turn a phrase. Though the complex narrative can be confusing, this is ultimately a sweetly sad story. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, AM Heath (UK) (Apr.)
From the Publisher

'An enticing read that will resonate with many a reader.'
Midwest Book Review

'This fine first book, half bildungsroman and half 'state of England' novel, tell the story of Jim and his mates growing up in a village in the north of England . . . Wheatley can sure turn a phrase . . . A sweetly sad story.'
Publishers Weekly

'Joe's the only magnificent one in this novel about working-class life...A grim and gritty novel, with a slight ray of hope at the end.'
Kirkus Reviews

'Wheatley is that increasingly rare type of young writer: he has experienced life, and it shows.'
Daily Mail

'A brutal little novel that manages also to be tender and funny.'
Independent on Sunday

'A brutal, sometimes moving book . . . written with a spare, unsentimental swagger and plenty of confrontational coal-black humour.'
Metro

'Taut, tense and tragic . . . a triumphant debut.'
— Ben Myers, author of Pig Iron

'Strong and spare . . . witty and utterly convincing.'
— Jane Rogers, author of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

Kirkus Reviews
Joe's the only magnificent one in this novel about working-class life in northern England, for his simple-mindedness protects him from the despair and hopelessness of his friends. Jim is the main character and occasional narrator of the story, which moves from 1990, when he accidentally kills a man, to 2005. After serving six years in prison, he gets out and resumes his life, if one can call a dead-end job and almost constant drunkenness a "life." His mates, Geoff and Barry, are much the same as Jim. They work desultorily at various constructions jobs--Jim's a hod carrier--and spend most evenings in the pub. The only redemption in Jim's life is his friendship with Joe, a sweet but mentally challenged man, and his mother, Mrs. Joe. Wheatley introduces some sexual tension into the novel when Jim loses his virginity to Laura, a prostitute, the day he gets out of prison, and later we learn that Geoff has left his wife for Laura, though he's kept in the dark about Jim's earlier connection to her. Eventually, Barry develops a scheme to rip off a construction site--though to his credit Jim wants nothing to do with this--and Geoff wins the lottery and runs off to Thailand, in the process stealing his friends' money because they had pooled their resources for a ticket. Barry reveals the true extent of his criminality when he orchestrates a campaign against Joe, persuading people that he's a pedophile. The dialogue throughout is earthy, with the f-word appearing dozens of times on every page and in every conceivable syntactic variation. A grim and gritty novel, with a slight ray of hope at the end.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781851689668
Publisher:
Oneworld Publications
Publication date:
04/30/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


James Wheatley is a research consultant, musician, and writer. A graduate of the Sheffield Hallam Creative Writing Course in the UK, he lives in Yorkshire where he divides his time between writing and playing guitar in several bands. This is his first novel.

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