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Afternoon Men

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Afternoon Men follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the glamorous life.Afternoon Men provides an important perspective on the development of one of thi Afternoon Men follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the glamorous life.Afternoon Men provides an important perspective on the development of one of this century's great satirists.


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Afternoon Men follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the glamorous life.Afternoon Men provides an important perspective on the development of one of thi Afternoon Men follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the glamorous life.Afternoon Men provides an important perspective on the development of one of this century's great satirists.

30 review for Afternoon Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed this - it's an intriguing read, with wonderful dialogue and a very readable witty style. However, I'm not sure I liked the main character that much, and there are a few problematic things within it that haven't dated well. So an interesting read but not a patch on A Dance to the Music of Time! Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed this - it's an intriguing read, with wonderful dialogue and a very readable witty style. However, I'm not sure I liked the main character that much, and there are a few problematic things within it that haven't dated well. So an interesting read but not a patch on A Dance to the Music of Time!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I first heard about Afternoon Men when I stumbled upon an online review that described the book as "the funniest book you will ever read." A few of my favorite books we pretty damn funny (A Confederacy of Dunces, Catch 22, most Vonnegut books) so I figured this book was worth reading. I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect other than it should be funny. It was an engaging, quick, read despite the fact that nothing really happens for most of the book. I finished the book liking i I first heard about Afternoon Men when I stumbled upon an online review that described the book as "the funniest book you will ever read." A few of my favorite books we pretty damn funny (A Confederacy of Dunces, Catch 22, most Vonnegut books) so I figured this book was worth reading. I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect other than it should be funny. It was an engaging, quick, read despite the fact that nothing really happens for most of the book. I finished the book liking it but not really knowing why. I didn't find it particularly funny and it certainly wasn't the funniest book I have ever read but there was an element of ridiculousness (new word alert!!) to the superficial lives of the characters that is oddly entertaining and keeps you interested. I would recommend this book to someone who isn't ready to start in a long, heavy, book (War and Peace) and wants to read something light. The characters lives seem very pointless and I am sure someone with a sharp intellect could find some neat philosophical theme...but I just read it for leisure.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cera

    A very funny book in which absolutely nothing happens. I read some criticism of it while reading up on literature of the 1930s and thought it sounded unbelievably bleak, but somehow I was amused rather than depressed. The characters want very little, do even less, and even the climactic bits are entirely anti-climactic -- very telling in a novel from 1931.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nigel

    Posh people do nothing very slowly. So why do I love this book? I really don't know, but it really is a gem. Now I want to read everything else he wrote.... Posh people do nothing very slowly. So why do I love this book? I really don't know, but it really is a gem. Now I want to read everything else he wrote....

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Afternoon Men was Anthony Powell's first novel and was published in 1931 when Powell was only 26 years old. I found this copy in a secondhand bookshop when I was reading his twelve-volume series of novels, A Dance to the Music of Time. It's a fun book and will certainly be of interest to anyone that has read Dance as the style and structure of the book is so similar to his later work. The book has little plot and instead concentrates on characters and the dialogue between the many characters, wh Afternoon Men was Anthony Powell's first novel and was published in 1931 when Powell was only 26 years old. I found this copy in a secondhand bookshop when I was reading his twelve-volume series of novels, A Dance to the Music of Time. It's a fun book and will certainly be of interest to anyone that has read Dance as the style and structure of the book is so similar to his later work. The book has little plot and instead concentrates on characters and the dialogue between the many characters, who are all from the same jaded semi-aristocratic, intellectual milieu as in Dance. The main character is William Atwater who has an unsatisfying job at a museum. The book opens with Atwater in a bar discussing with his friend, Pringle, Pringle's current medication regime. We are then introduced to several other characters who enter the bar and are known to Atwater. As is typical with Powell we get to know the characters from dialogue and short little character descriptions. Here, for example, is his description of Atwater early on in the book.He was a weedy-looking young man with straw-coloured hair and rather long legs, who had failed twice for the Foreign Office. He sometimes wore tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles to correct a slight squint, and through influence he had recently got a job in a museum. His father was a retired civil servant who lived in Essex, where he and his wife kept a chicken farm.The group from the bar decide to go to a party where we are introduced to even more characters. Powell does a great job of showing a party in full swing with random conversations with random people, the constant flux of partygoers and the general chaos involved with people getting drunk, some passing out in the bathroom, drinks getting spilt and so on. Atwater meets a girl, called Lola ('She had the look of a gnome or prematurely vicious child.') whom he unsuccessfully tries to get to go home with him, that is until he is obviously entranced with the appearance of the beautiful Susan Nunnery, then Lola is eager to get Atwater away from the party. Although most of the humour is in the dialogue and the character descriptions Powell occasionally gives us a bit of slapstick. Mr. Scheigan is an American publisher who was with Atwater at the party; he was drunk at the bar and then fell asleep on the floor at the party. When they decide to leave they try to get Scheigan home in a taxi.   They all went downstairs and lent a hand in getting Mr. Scheigan into his taxi. He got out once, but they put him back in again, and as the taxi drove off they saw him leaning through the window talking to the driver. The taxi door came open as it turned the corner at the end of the street, but as long as the vehicle remained in sight Mr. Scheigan had still not fallen out. Barlow said:    "He seemed quite unused to getting into taxis."The first section also contains a chapter where we see Atwater at work in the museum. He's visited by an annoying member of the public called Dr. Crutch who tries to get private access to some of the exhibits, presumably exhibits of a sexual nature. There's also an amusing paragraph where Atwater lists all the things he could, and should, do but instead he 'sat and thought about existence and its difficulties.' We get to eavesdrop on more lunches, parties and chance meetings; the characters develop more as we find out more background information and gossip. As Atwater pursues Susan, Lola pursues Atwater. Powell describes Atwater's seduction of Lola as 'mechanical' and can only lead to an anti-climax but he appears to be making progress with Susan.    Susan poured herself out some more wine. She said:    "You're nice. You must come and see me some time. I live miles away from anywhere with my father. You'll like him."    "Tell me about him."    "He's a curious little man with a walrus moustache."    "What does he do?"    "He's a failure."    "Where does he fail?"    "Oh, he doesn't any longer," she said. "He's a retired failure, you see. You must meet him."    "I'd like to."Atwater takes Susan to see some boxing but she warns him that she won't fall in love with him, and she doesn't, instead she plans to go away from London for an unspecified period of time. In the final third of the book Atwater visits his friend, Pringle, in the country with some of his other friends. Just when we think the novel is not going to go anywhere Powell threatens to give us a bit of drama, only to pull back at the final moment—it works really well and is quite amusing. And there's some more great dialogue, such as this:   The barman came to the other side of the counter.    "Time please," he said.    Harriet said: "You mustn't hurry a lady drinking a pint of beer. The effects might be fatal."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Keeley

    Powell's first novel differs in tone from his Dance cycle. The social milieu is much the same; intellectuals and artists float about between depressing parties and country houses. And the plot is again cyclical; while that character was created through metaphor and imagery in Dance, here it is simply the fact that the first and last scenes occur in a private club and conclude with an invitation to a party. The mood is much bleaker, however. The protagonist seems to have no purpose or real enjoym Powell's first novel differs in tone from his Dance cycle. The social milieu is much the same; intellectuals and artists float about between depressing parties and country houses. And the plot is again cyclical; while that character was created through metaphor and imagery in Dance, here it is simply the fact that the first and last scenes occur in a private club and conclude with an invitation to a party. The mood is much bleaker, however. The protagonist seems to have no purpose or real enjoyment to his life, and the only change that occurs to him in the course of the novel is his loss of a couple of girlfriends to other men. Despite the fact that I tend to dislike bleak novels, I quite enjoyed reading this. It felt much like Naipaul.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I found this book at a used book store in Minneapolis. Anthony Powell is one of my favorite writers, so I bought it. I think it was one of his earlier books, published in 1931. Just finished it. I liked it, of course. The dry wit, the recording of conversations -- you want to read more and more (and if you do, there's always his massive "Dance to the Music of Time." The protagonist's love affair reminded me of one I had in college, where you couldn't seem to find a way to where you wanted to go. I found this book at a used book store in Minneapolis. Anthony Powell is one of my favorite writers, so I bought it. I think it was one of his earlier books, published in 1931. Just finished it. I liked it, of course. The dry wit, the recording of conversations -- you want to read more and more (and if you do, there's always his massive "Dance to the Music of Time." The protagonist's love affair reminded me of one I had in college, where you couldn't seem to find a way to where you wanted to go.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    The more I re-read Powell, the more I appreciate the subtlety of the humour. A classic from this first of his novels is the comment that a man passed out drunk at a party doesn’t lower the tone of the party as much as he did while still conscious. It is dry humour at its most Saharan, but very enjoyable. The boxing match in the middle section reminds one of Hemingway, whose influence on Powell is probably most obvious in this debut novel. One tends to forget that Powell was ever influenced by He The more I re-read Powell, the more I appreciate the subtlety of the humour. A classic from this first of his novels is the comment that a man passed out drunk at a party doesn’t lower the tone of the party as much as he did while still conscious. It is dry humour at its most Saharan, but very enjoyable. The boxing match in the middle section reminds one of Hemingway, whose influence on Powell is probably most obvious in this debut novel. One tends to forget that Powell was ever influenced by Hemingway. A failed suicide by drowning also provides a great deal of dry humour.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Crupi

    Like other early novels about the Bright Young Things—Waugh's Vile Bodies, Green's Party Going, Connolly's The Rock Pool, etc etc—Powell's first published book gives rise to a categorical I-need-to-read-pretty-much-everything-by-this-author vibe. Perhaps one of the most well-wrought, yet largely plotless, debuts this side of The Moviegoer, Speedboat, A Confederacy of Dunces and Sleepless Nights. Like other early novels about the Bright Young Things—Waugh's Vile Bodies, Green's Party Going, Connolly's The Rock Pool, etc etc—Powell's first published book gives rise to a categorical I-need-to-read-pretty-much-everything-by-this-author vibe. Perhaps one of the most well-wrought, yet largely plotless, debuts this side of The Moviegoer, Speedboat, A Confederacy of Dunces and Sleepless Nights.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Cowdell

    Maybe 3.5, maybe 4 - I was pretty taken with the dry and spacious style, and the satire of vacuous society is bleak, relentless and gives you very little of comfort. I see a couple of people here have commented on how the protagonist, Atwater, isn't a particularly sympathetic figure and isn't much more engaged than any of the other ghastly types who comprise his whole world - well, /quite/ ... I read A Question of Upbringing 30-odd years ago and it didn't do much for me then. On this showing I th Maybe 3.5, maybe 4 - I was pretty taken with the dry and spacious style, and the satire of vacuous society is bleak, relentless and gives you very little of comfort. I see a couple of people here have commented on how the protagonist, Atwater, isn't a particularly sympathetic figure and isn't much more engaged than any of the other ghastly types who comprise his whole world - well, /quite/ ... I read A Question of Upbringing 30-odd years ago and it didn't do much for me then. On this showing I think I have to give it another go.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Praneeth Kruthiventi

    not a lot happens in this book and that is precisely why I really enjoyed reading this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    William

    Anthony Powell's first novel, published within a year of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies and following much the same cast of Bright Young Things albeit in rather a different manner. People fall in and out of love and clubs, venture from Mayfair to the Country, then beat a hasty retreat. In his memoirs, Powell makes a distinction between two kinds of novelist - the Perfectionists, like Flaubert or Henry James, who write and re-write, making sure everything is just so and not a word is misplaced; and t Anthony Powell's first novel, published within a year of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies and following much the same cast of Bright Young Things albeit in rather a different manner. People fall in and out of love and clubs, venture from Mayfair to the Country, then beat a hasty retreat. In his memoirs, Powell makes a distinction between two kinds of novelist - the Perfectionists, like Flaubert or Henry James, who write and re-write, making sure everything is just so and not a word is misplaced; and the Other Sort, like Dickens and Balzac, for whom no situation, detail or character which enters their minds is superfluous. He suggests that to be of the Other Sort requires more energy and creative vitality, more confidence that something good will always turn up if only one plods on. This is certainly borne out in one's reading of Dickens and Balzac, in which the polarities of brilliance and dreck sit comfortably side by side, one never guaranteeing the other's absence. However, if the writer lacks this self-confidence, or innate ability, they must be Perfectionists, compensating perhaps for lack of raw material with scrupulous standards of editing. I think it is obvious into which camp Powell would place himself. Here we have a very slender plot, rendered with the lightest of touches, every effect understated and deliberate. It is dialogue-heavy, often with multiple characters maintaining separate threads of conversation, never quite weaving together, producing a musical quality redolent of theatre. Descriptions are pared, themselves sometimes reading like stage directions. Direct statements of character psychology are rare. The elisions serve as punchlines. All this makes for rather a self-conscious read. They style is always apparent, much more so than in A Dance to the Music of Time, and the humour is more caustic, without the underlying affection present in his opus. That is not so surprising - Powell was only 26 when this was published. Once or twice this tips over into a certain edginess, or callow world-weariness which youth is often guilty of: 'Slowly, but very deliberately, the brooding edifice of seduction, creaking and incongruous, came into being, a vast Heath Robinson mechanism, dually controlled by them and lumbering gloomily down vistas of triteness. With a sort of heavy-fisted dexterity the mutually adapted emotions of each of them became synchronised, until the unavoidable anti-climax was at hand. Later they dined at a restaurant quite near the flat.' The last sentence almost saves it, but probably it is always better to avoid writing about sex unless it is humorous (I struggle to think of any sex scenes in Dance...) And I wonder also how much of his understated-ness it is attributable to self-awareness of artistic limitations (not a bad thing): the novel's weakest point is towards the end, when the main character is feeling heartbroken and we get the single longest moment of 'interior reflection', which I thought a bit of a clunker. I compared this to Vile Bodies. Powell is more of a realist than Waugh. The humour is observational, without much exaggeration of situation or character to create comic effect. I wonder whether Waugh's approach works better, there being something about these people which naturally invites caricature, but then, I don't much like that novel either. Probably it is difficult to write a good novel about people one dislikes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Realini

    Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell 10 out of 10 Anthony Powell is the Literature God that has blessed humanity with the glorious, divine series of twelve (12) masterpieces, published under the acclaimed A Dance to the Music of Time title, a writer that will belong to the same historical, artistic circle as Marcel Proust, Somerset Maugham, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor – Anthony Powell seems to have started off on the magical quest of A Dance to the Music of Time, by creating the framework with A Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell 10 out of 10 Anthony Powell is the Literature God that has blessed humanity with the glorious, divine series of twelve (12) masterpieces, published under the acclaimed A Dance to the Music of Time title, a writer that will belong to the same historical, artistic circle as Marcel Proust, Somerset Maugham, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor – Anthony Powell seems to have started off on the magical quest of A Dance to the Music of Time, by creating the framework with Afternoon Men, wherein we have William Atwater, a museum clerk, the figure that announces the procrastination, meandering journey of the protagonist of A Question of Upbringing and the other magnum opera, a man in search of love, if possible erudite entertainment, but also prone to engage in less sophisticated antics, near the sea or in London. Raymond Pringle may be the ancestor of Widmerpool, a fantastic, somewhat grotesque character that appears in At Lady Molly’s http://realini.blogspot.com/2013/07/a... and in other parts, whether he has someone pour sugar over his head or doing something emphatic, albeit Pringle is a painter and not an aspiring politician with an inflated ego, he does have a manner that can be obnoxious – take the scene where a local comes to take back the clothes he has lent to the man that was naked in the sea, thinking about suicide, but not altogether decided to go all the way with it, when the others are talking at length – and I mean quite at length – about how much money would be proper to give this visitor, one arguing that ten shillings would do (they had a different value then) while another is more inclined to say a pound would be more appropriate, for after all, these fishermen have saved the life of the confused, erratic artist who had left a note about his intentions. That appears to be quite a climax in the story, for it does not seem that this is about to happen, when the main character, William Atwater (who does seem to be at sea most often), Raymond Pringle, as the one who has the use of the house near the sea, must pay the woman helping the household with the meals and otherwise – and he would be quite miserly about it, arguing over a proposed increase in payment, considered necessary because of the volume of work and the gossip of the neighbors who are conservative and look with suspicion and predictions of gloom and doom on a house with these libertines visiting from London- and some other guests share the abode that will be their shelter for some vacation days. Harriet Twinning is one of the guests at the house near the sea, and she has a special status, given that Raymond Pringle is very attached to her, at least until he finds her with another man, if not exactly having coitus, then intimate enough for the painter to be seriously affected by this incident, after which he comes without towels at the beach, he walks naked into the water and then later the guests find when they look at what looks like an envelope with the bill for the butcher or some other shop that there is a note inside which says something along the lines of ‘I have failed at everything I did, give five pounds for the help and the change to Harriet, and the other five pounds which are in the top drawer send to my sister’ in what seems to be a suicide explanation, although with hindsight, he may have intended to ponder over the content, the release so to say to the public of these intentions and after death indications… The dialogue, interactions surrounding this highlight – if we can call it that – appear very enticing, amusing and also insightful, for the guests (including another painter, Barlow, that would commiserate, think himself to blame for growing too intimate with Harriet and criticizing some of the paintings of the now thought dead artist) muse over what might have happened, one, Ms. Race, is very upset over the delay in serving lunch – though this annoyance is expressed before the fatidic note is found – in spite of the fact that she has been allowed to benefit from the granted austere hospitality of difficult, outré, often harsh and peculiar Pringle, together with a dog that is not even house trained – we learn that the visitors will get adapted to this situation which must have been quite offensive. Still, it is not clear what must have happened with the very late host, speculation being that he will return quite soon, there is a rain out there, but when the paper with the request to give money due after the now almost certain death, the guests proceed to execute the final wishes, giving money to the help, and Atwater writes a letter informing the sister of the deceased of what happened, albeit without referring to the intentions and speaking of the accident that had taken place, the result of which is the drowned painter…the sister appears to be married to an important director of a bank, but they say that people are always happy to receive five pounds, no matter how reach they are and then there is the kerfuffle surrounding the fisherman. Maybe a spoiler alert should be included here, in spite of the fact that it appears presumptuous in that it would assume that people read this and reach so far, never mind the poignancy of a note that would be so convincing as to make one say óh, but I need to read this, too bad this fellow gave away some of the ending’…for after they will have finished most of the requirements made by the late host, he shows up in one of the rooms, wearing some trousers a jumper and heavy boots – remember he was naked and the guests went climbing the rocks to get the clothes back, wet and soaking by the rain – and tired as he is, there is confusion over the message he has written, for he has not left it in an obvious place and thought the others might have missed it…anyway, he has gotten cold feet. As he was swimming in the water, there have been a few boast around and some of the fishermen were not troubled by this strange apparition, while others have been upset by his nakedness and one said he will report this affront to the authorities – he was taken in one of the boats, which had two people on board and then given the clothes…when the fisherman came to fetch the clothes a long, winding, comical discussion ensues, for participants try to see what has happened, who did what and how much is to be offered for services rendered – which is quite preposterous, given that these two have saved the life of the would be suicidal artist, as one does indeed point out – how many they were, what exactly they did, then one points out that the man has had to travel quite some way to have his belongings returned…there is the issue of offering him a drink, only he is a teetotaler and he would like a cocoa, but since there is none available, they make him and he drinks coffee. The notes of the magnificent, sublime volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell (to be read Pole, as I have just learned) are here: http://realini.blogspot.com/2013/06/t...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pascale

    Most people who reviewed this book on Goodreads found more in it than I did. Typically I'm drawn to books where very little happens and what does happen has to be parsed from elliptical clues. However, I felt this particular story lacked bite. You have a mildly unappealing set of characters, who dabble in painting, work in a museum, or have a private income. Although they don't care much about each other, and sleep with whoever is at hand indiscriminately, they form a tight-knit coterie, hang ab Most people who reviewed this book on Goodreads found more in it than I did. Typically I'm drawn to books where very little happens and what does happen has to be parsed from elliptical clues. However, I felt this particular story lacked bite. You have a mildly unappealing set of characters, who dabble in painting, work in a museum, or have a private income. Although they don't care much about each other, and sleep with whoever is at hand indiscriminately, they form a tight-knit coterie, hang about the same parties and the same clubs, and even go on holidays together. The most eventful part of the book is part III, where Pringle decides to commit suicide by drowning after seeing his fiancée fooling around with one of his friends and house-guests. When his friends find his suicide note, it's well past lunchtime, so they decide to eat something before making any decision. Of course, this sounds callous, but cherries were exceptional the year my mum dies, and we all ate tons of them right through her funeral. In the end, "Afternoon Men" is a dull book about average Joes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard Clay

    I really do enjoy reading Anthony Powell - something I probably ought to be ashamed of. No writer was ever more establishment - more safe, more unchallenging, more essentially boring. Yet it all slips down so easily and you do find yourself smiling along placidly with his dry witticisms. He got better as he got older - having plodded away at his craft for forty-odd years, he was finally competent enough to produce 'Books Do Furnish a Room' and 'Hearing Secret Harmonies' - decent novels both. But I really do enjoy reading Anthony Powell - something I probably ought to be ashamed of. No writer was ever more establishment - more safe, more unchallenging, more essentially boring. Yet it all slips down so easily and you do find yourself smiling along placidly with his dry witticisms. He got better as he got older - having plodded away at his craft for forty-odd years, he was finally competent enough to produce 'Books Do Furnish a Room' and 'Hearing Secret Harmonies' - decent novels both. But 'Afternoon Men' was his first and he hadn't yet perfected the super-slick sentence structure that was to become such a big part of his appeal. Indeed, there are a few structural clunkers here that would, later on, surely have caused him acute embarrassment. I can't hide my guilt-sodden liking for this book and would no doubt be awarding it a star or two more if I could not remember a time when such trivial fluff was forced upon us under the banner of Important Literature. Such a grotesque mis-selling, which might not have been Powell's fault, still rankles decades later.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    I rarely review a book I haven’t read but after two attempts at this book I’m going to. I recently found this book on my shelves while doing some reorganization. It looked interesting although I had no idea when or where I acquired it. When I started reading I discovered a bookmark indicating that I had previously read the first thirty pages or so. This time I got through fifty pages before quitting. It consists of insipid people doing insipid things and having insipid conversations. It’s suppos I rarely review a book I haven’t read but after two attempts at this book I’m going to. I recently found this book on my shelves while doing some reorganization. It looked interesting although I had no idea when or where I acquired it. When I started reading I discovered a bookmark indicating that I had previously read the first thirty pages or so. This time I got through fifty pages before quitting. It consists of insipid people doing insipid things and having insipid conversations. It’s supposed to be funny although I can’t see why. There are no characters that I care about or find interesting. Unless I completely forget about it again, I can’t imagine ever trying to read it a third time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tom Tiding

    Afternoon Men is written nearly wall-to-wall with dialogue, such that you have to piece together what's actually happening from the bits and pieces you overhear. Characters speak in understatements and half-truths, so it can take some getting used to. But the characters and the book are so clever-- I wanted them to be my clever friends, although I'm sure some people will find them awfully tedious. There aren't many sympathetic characters, and Powell doesn't give away any of their emotional depth Afternoon Men is written nearly wall-to-wall with dialogue, such that you have to piece together what's actually happening from the bits and pieces you overhear. Characters speak in understatements and half-truths, so it can take some getting used to. But the characters and the book are so clever-- I wanted them to be my clever friends, although I'm sure some people will find them awfully tedious. There aren't many sympathetic characters, and Powell doesn't give away any of their emotional depth easily. It's a bit bleak and certainly not generous writing, but I found it very, very funny. I'd really like to read more from Powell.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anne Fenn

    Written 20 years before Anthony Powell's greatest work began publication in the 1950s, this short novel set in 1930 London among a motley crowd of bohemian artists and would-be writers is of interest just for that, being an early work. It shows his use of dialogue in new ways - lots of fragments and repetition , you need to concentrate to follow the plot. This seems to be drink, party, talk , over and over again until the final pages, when something has happened. Main characters Pringle and Atwa Written 20 years before Anthony Powell's greatest work began publication in the 1950s, this short novel set in 1930 London among a motley crowd of bohemian artists and would-be writers is of interest just for that, being an early work. It shows his use of dialogue in new ways - lots of fragments and repetition , you need to concentrate to follow the plot. This seems to be drink, party, talk , over and over again until the final pages, when something has happened. Main characters Pringle and Atwater are carefully described on meeting, then you need to keep your wits about you to follow them. Females are frequently femmes fatale. Life happens to you, rather than you take action.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    It's impressive how much mileage this guy can get out of a hardly-rollicking plotline and page after page of banal dialog. It shouldn't work, and yet it's absorbing and darkly funny and even kind of deep for those of us who like to ascribe depth to things that look on the surface like nothing has happened. Also, this is an extremely quick read, ideal for someone halfway through a brick-like book she's too busy to concentrate on but still wanting to actually finally read something start to finish. It's impressive how much mileage this guy can get out of a hardly-rollicking plotline and page after page of banal dialog. It shouldn't work, and yet it's absorbing and darkly funny and even kind of deep for those of us who like to ascribe depth to things that look on the surface like nothing has happened. Also, this is an extremely quick read, ideal for someone halfway through a brick-like book she's too busy to concentrate on but still wanting to actually finally read something start to finish.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Flob

    This is a good book, it is funny and it is well written. But I can only give a 3 because there is plenty here to annoy. The characters are all dreadful (cynical, a satire, whatever) and seem hardly worth the effort of getting to know. They, or the author, are shocking snobs. Any working person is usually presented as slovenly, or stupid and certainly not 'people like us'. The language in the novel is old fashioned even for the time, it can only seek to exclude. I can't give it less than 3 becaus This is a good book, it is funny and it is well written. But I can only give a 3 because there is plenty here to annoy. The characters are all dreadful (cynical, a satire, whatever) and seem hardly worth the effort of getting to know. They, or the author, are shocking snobs. Any working person is usually presented as slovenly, or stupid and certainly not 'people like us'. The language in the novel is old fashioned even for the time, it can only seek to exclude. I can't give it less than 3 because I enjoyed it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Silverman

    This is a very slight, but mildly entertaining novel. For readers of Powell's masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time, it will be seen as a much lesser work that is still of some interest. Although the tone of the novel is quite different from the twelve novel series that comprise A Dance..., the characters portrayed and the social situations are all rather familiar and evoke that world. This first novel of his is no place to start an acquaintance with Powell, but provides some satisfaction to This is a very slight, but mildly entertaining novel. For readers of Powell's masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time, it will be seen as a much lesser work that is still of some interest. Although the tone of the novel is quite different from the twelve novel series that comprise A Dance..., the characters portrayed and the social situations are all rather familiar and evoke that world. This first novel of his is no place to start an acquaintance with Powell, but provides some satisfaction to those who've long considered him a good friend and are eager for some continued connection.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aurélien

    Powell's novel is funny and cynical. His characters will not arouse any sympathy from the reader, however you cannot put this book down. The chapter when the characters argue about the appropriateness of having lunch when you know your host just committed suicide is hysterical, and having the hero pretend to have only a little to eat to fein compassion is never-seen. The characters are unpleasant but they are true, they are selfish but we understand why. That's all I was asking from Powell. Powell's novel is funny and cynical. His characters will not arouse any sympathy from the reader, however you cannot put this book down. The chapter when the characters argue about the appropriateness of having lunch when you know your host just committed suicide is hysterical, and having the hero pretend to have only a little to eat to fein compassion is never-seen. The characters are unpleasant but they are true, they are selfish but we understand why. That's all I was asking from Powell.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ali Miremadi

    Very funny; deeply melancholy; a satire tinged with modernism. Compares very well with Waugh’s work of the same period but to be a little brutal, it isn’t at the same level as Scott Fitzgerald. I’d suggest that it would go well in a set with ‘Great Gatsby’, ‘Scoop’, some of the more urban Wodehouse (‘Bill the Conqueror’) and even the short stories of Somerset Maughan. I will certainly read it again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    A pointless book about pointless people. I realize it's a satire something something modern attitudes something something, and it is well-written and witty, but it's still fairly pointless. Maybe some of Powell's other books involve more interesting people. A pointless book about pointless people. I realize it's a satire something something modern attitudes something something, and it is well-written and witty, but it's still fairly pointless. Maybe some of Powell's other books involve more interesting people.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Murray

    Absolutely brilliant. Dull, banal young things and artist manques sauntering through the 1930's Wasteland of Evelyn Waugh. Permeated with ennui and delicious irony. Snatches of phatic conversations redolent of Elliot. A map of a certain seedy class's cultural mindset. Absolutely brilliant. Dull, banal young things and artist manques sauntering through the 1930's Wasteland of Evelyn Waugh. Permeated with ennui and delicious irony. Snatches of phatic conversations redolent of Elliot. A map of a certain seedy class's cultural mindset.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Entertaining- sort of like American Psycho without the sadism and murder, in that the characters are privileged and vacant, and spend all their time eating and drinking, and having disjointed conversations meant to fill their time. A nice parody...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    It's an episode of Seinfeld, if Seinfeld was a 30's British painter. It's an episode of Seinfeld, if Seinfeld was a 30's British painter.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mike Wigal

    1930s between the wars Britain. People doing nothing. Kind of a written pre-Seinfeld. The characters were simultaneously engaging and insipid. They were all probably killed in the Blitz.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Sort of a cross between The Importance of Being Earnest and Waiting for Godot. Clever at times, but not often, and the satire seemed overdone.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Ellis

    A book every Millennial ought to read.

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