The Mighty Walzerby Howard Jacobson
From the Hardcover edition.
Oliver Walzer is a natural at ping-pong. He can chop, flick, half-volley like a champion. At sex he is not a natural, but with tuition from Sheeny Waxman, his game improves. Unabashedly autobiographical, this is Howard Jacobson's masterpiece.
From the Hardcover edition.
“Poignant, moving, hilarious . . . laugh-out-loud funny . . . the sort of book that might change your life.” Observer (UK)
“Jacobson is a great storyteller: phrases, anecdotes and atmosphere roll off the page with the ease and sublime, scary grace of drunken eels--he is unsurpassable.” The Times (UK)
“This mature novel has the sustained exuberance and passion of his youthful writing . . . an achingly funny book . . . an amazing achievement . . . There are few novelists today who can imbue the trifles of life with such poetry.” Independent (UK)
“Marvellous. Jacobson has not just written the first great novel about ping-pong. He has written one of the greatest sporting novels ever.” Sunday Telegraph (UK)
“[Jacobson's] humour is unashamedly savage and his jokes as sharp as a switch-blade . . . comic vitriol worthy of Evelyn Waugh.” Express on Sunday (UK)
An entertaining Jewish picaresque novel, following on Jacobson's Man Booker Prize–winningThe Finkler Question(2010).
This roman à clef is a Rothian romp, aGoodbye, Columbusacross the water in Manchester, where we find young Oliver Walzer desperately trying to do what young men try to do, namely satisfy their baser urges while grappling with whoever the hell they are. Oliver's not sure of any of this, and it doesn't help that he falls under the tutelage of a ping-pong patzer, and maybe evengoniff, with the resonant name of Sheeny Waxman, who has a gift for confusing things. The association is natural, and if Oliver doesn't quite experience the "slow awakening of genius" that the novel grandly announces in its very first paragraph, then he enjoys a lively sentimental education all the same. Oliver has a family tradition to uphold: His schlimazel of a pop was an ascended master of the yo-yo, after all, and now Oliver has to carve his own reputation into the gates of Birmingham with his own chosen instrument ("cometh the hour, cometh the toy"); Oliver also strives to rise above his origins, since, as he puts it, "all we'd been doing since the Middle Ages was growing beetroot and running away from Cossacks." Yet, hormone-driven as he is, Oliver has other aspirations, most of them things that inspire reverential circumlocution ("Mr Waxman drove her to Miles Platting, a considerable distance from her home, requested that she allow him to perform an indecent act upon her, and when she again refused he unceremoniously ordered her to get out of his car"). Will Oliver attain his several goals? That's the question that awaits the young man who thinks of himself as a mediocre being, a Kafkaesque bug, as, worst of all, "So-So Walzer."Jacobson is a sympathetic narrator, but not above poking fun at his characters and poking holes in their pretenses—and clearly having fun as he does so.
A delight from start to finish, and a note-perfect evocation of the gray 1950s.
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- 5.67(w) x 8.86(h) x 1.42(d)
Meet the Author
Howard Jacobson is a British novelist and journalist. He is known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters. He is a Man Booker Prize winner.
Simon Bent is a British screenwriter and playwright, whose work includes the Joe Orton biographical play Prick Up Your Ears , the theatre adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany (2002) and Elling (2007).
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