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The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim

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About the Author

Jonathan Coe is the author of twelve novels, all published by Penguin, which include the highly acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep,The Rotters' Club and Number 11.


Coe (The Rotters' Club) broadly satirizes the disconnectedness of modern life with the story of Maxwell Sim, who has 70 Facebook friends but no one he can turn to when his wife and daughter leave him. After a trip to Australia to reconnect with his estranged father leads nowhere, Trevor, one of Max's few real friends, offers him an unusual gig: drive a Prius to the northernmost tip of the British Isles as part of a promotion for a startup eco-toothbrush company. Max takes a meandering route that allows him to visit his ex-wife, check in on his father's long-empty apartment, and pay a visit to the parents of his childhood friends. He also develops a romantic fixation on the voice coming from his GPS, which he names Emma. True connection is elusive: Max gains insight to his marriage, but only after using a fake identity to befriend his ex-wife online; haunting incidents from his teenage years come into focus belatedly, and the clarity he finally achieves comes at the prompting of a stranger. Coe has a lot of fun skewering the way technology and social media have become buttresses of society, but the antic plot and unfortunately precious conclusion water down the thoughtful points. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

It takes real panache to write with such comedic ease; his pacing throughout is superb and delivers realististic dialogue, and, hence believable charcters ... Coe's sympathy for his creation is contagious -- Robert Epstein * Indpendent on Sunday *
Max is silly but he makes him more than a figure of ridicule. Instead, he understands him, shows us what it is to be ineloquent in company, to have bland tastes and a childlike need fot sameness, to not be very good at things. Through that understanding he gives us witty and tender humanity, and reminds us that while winners write the history, it is life's losers, such as Max, who have the best stories -- Simon Baker * Spectator *
Coe takes a risk in using the nerdish Sim as principal spokesman, but he carries it off by empathy, comedy and a venriloquist's ear for idiom. The conclusion to this fine novel, an ending in which Jonathan Coe himself plays a speaking part, is witty, unexpected and curiously unsettling -- Pamela Norris * Literary Review *
The Terrible Privacy is more intimate than Coe's previous novels. Coe may blackly satirise an atomised 21st-century Britain pockmarked by Travelodges and in thrall to the empty caress of instant messaging but this geographical and cultural hinterland is really a physical correlative for Sim's existential crisis -- Claire Allfree * Metro *
Cunningly plotted, extremely well-written and very, very funny -- Mark Sanderson * Daily Telegraph *
An engaging novel -- Lianne Kolirin * The Express *
Coe's book is as funny and as well written as you'd expect: even the banality of Maxwell's mind is rendered deadpan, with wonderful lightness. It is archly and artfully structured, too; though I can't, without spoiling a plot that delivers revelations and switch backs in careful sequence, go deeply into how -- Sam Leith * Prospect Magazine *
Coe has always been a virtuoso of voice. He is the master of the kind of distinctively English comedy that has its roots in Fielding and Sterne -- Jonathan Derbyshire * New Statesman *
Funny and touching * Grazia *
A highly engaging portrait of both a man and a society that have lost their way -- Michael Arditti * Daily Mail *
The plot is everything Max is not: clever, engaging, and spring-loaded with mysteries and surprises -- Caroline McGinn * Time Out London *
Exceptionally moving...[managing] to tell us something about loneliness, failure and the inability to cope that we haven't quite read before -- Alex Clark * The Guardian *
Very funny * RED *

Maxwell Sim is a lonely man, having botched his relationships with his father, his ex-wife, and his former best friend. He's trying to reach out to others but finds himself reduced to conversing with the voice of the GPS system in his car, one of many instances in which this satirical novel by multi-award-winning English writer Coe ( highlights the alienation common among today's technologically connected masses. The narration by talented actor Colin Buchanan is a joy; his enthusiastic Liverpudlian accent especially will charm listeners. However, the market for this recording may be small, and a metafictional twist near the end feels tacked on. Not a necessary purchase, but collections where literary fiction circulates might consider. ["This witty, sympathetic, and often painfully funny take on real loneliness in the virtual, socially networked world deserves a wide audience," read the review of the Knopf hc, LJ 4/1/11.-Ed.]-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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