Headlong PDF Þ Hardcover

Headlong PDF Þ Hardcover

Headlong ➸ Headlong Free ➮ Author Michael Frayn – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk An unlikely con man wagers wife wealth and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old MasterInvited to dinner by the boorish local landowner Martin Clay an easily distracted philosopher and his art historian An unlikely con man wagers wife wealth and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old MasterInvited to dinner by the boorish local landowner Martin Clay an easily distracted philosopher and his art historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less Martin believes than a lost work by Bruegel So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin betting all that he owns and much that he doesn't embarks on a uest to prove his hunch win his wife over and separate the painting from its owner In Headlong Michael Frayn the master of what is seriously funny Anthony Burgess offers a procession of superbly realized characters from the country suire gone to seed to his giddy oversexed young wife All are burdened by human muddle and human cravings; all are searching for a moral compass as they grapple with greed folly and desire And at the heart of the clamor is Breugel's vision its dark tones warning of the real risks of temptation and obsessionWith this new novel Michael Frayn has given us entertainment of the highest order Supremely wise and wickedly funny Headlong elevates Frayn into the front rank of contemporary novelists.


10 thoughts on “Headlong

  1. Jeff Jeff says:

    The combined smell of mildew old food and wet dog was about to make me heave undigested pot roast when our host had finally gotten around to telling us why he invited us to dinner“I heard you were something of a comic book aficionado and wanted your opinion on something”I eyed my wife and gave her the secret why the hell did you accept this dinner invitation from these oddballs look She countered with the you’re going to walk home if you give me that look again lookGetting up and walking to their den was a matter of avoiding the crotch sniffing dogs and trying to breathe through my mouth to inhale as little as possible the noxious food odor that had built up and was forcing itself out of the kitchen and into the hall wayThe room was filled with piles of books and old magazines A comic was not in sight He handed me a pile of a dozen of so that were under a wool sweater on his desk Looking through them I didn’t find anything much of value a few comics in poor condition from the fifties“I’ve had these things for years Can’t even tell you where I got them from You might find a few in a few of the other piles”As I turned around to look I caught a glimpse of my wife discreetly rolling her eyes I picked up a few magazines off the top of a stack of Redbooks and National Geographic’s Halfway through the stack I saw it Action Comics Number One Superman lifting a car My heart stopped beating Breathing became forced The room began to spin I barely noticed the Labrador sniffing my crotch “I am going to be rich” I thought to myself To our host “I don’t think you have much of value here Would you mind if I take these home and cross check them with a catalogue?”The actual book revolves around a British philosophy professorsoon to be amateur con man’s attempts to swindle what could be a long lost painting by Brueghel the Elder out of its owner’s hands There’s a lot of interesting background on the life of Brueghel as our protagonist attempts to prove if the painting is genuine and how it came into the hands of his asshat neighbor Sadly the “hero” has difficulty with the machinations of the “con” zigging when he should have zagged – misreading all of the players including his own wife This is a droll book in the same vein as Julian Barne’s Flaubert’s Parrot


  2. Teresa Teresa says:

    I've had it in my head to read this for a long time as I enjoyed Frayn's Spies and the premise seemed one I'd like I finally came across the book in a dimly lit very small branch library It was above my head and under a long blue tarp When I got the book into better light I found the cover intriguing as it reminded me of the 'falling man' in the painting in A Month in the Country Except for each novel's mysterious falling man no other comparison existsI imagine Frayn's impetus to writing this novel was his own disagreement with Bruegel scholarship and instead of letting his research go to waste he incorporated it straight into this book As interesting as the research is it didn't work for me as part of a novel The other element of the story a sort of bedroom farce just wasn't something I found funny or even appealingThe book got me googling various paintings though and I enjoyed that immensely


  3. Jose Jose says:

    This book was a very different and somewhat overwhelming reading experienceTaking into account Michael Frayn's expertise as an excellent playwright this book is not short in proving his prowess in dialogue development In it we are introduced to Martin who narrates his moral and ethical struggles during a possibly history changing art findingThe fact that amazed me the most from the book is the author's ability to intertwine a monologue type of narrative with mid XVI century nederlandish art lectures specifically about the work of master painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder; fact that gives a fiction novel a very interesting and enlighting flavorAs mentioned above the book is about Martin a philosopher recently turned art historian who coming upon a life changing art finding narrates to us his decision making process in deciding how to proceed with the painting found The only thing I would consider slightly tiresome were the art descriptions which are dense and extensive than needed making the reader loose the line of the narration Nonetheless Headlond is a very entertaining and funny book that as the reader is drawn into the story in a swiftly fashion it also informs about one of northern Europe's renaissance master painters


  4. Maria Thermann Maria Thermann says:

    Huge entertaining and informative Michael Frayn's book about an art historian turned frantic detective is a delight from start to finish I simply coudn't put it down and when it ended I went straight to my local library to get out books about the Netherlands and old Dutch mastersThe book will not only appeal to readers who like art history it's a hilarious account of an otherwise inept man trying to track down an old masterpiece A giant jigsaw puzzle that spans several centuries the protagonist's rumninations about life art history religion and political oppression of artists is thought provoking and handled in an entertaining way It's a great read but then this is Michael Frayn a master storyteller at work


  5. Hugh Hugh says:

    A bit of a curate's egg which I found a little disappointing if only because it felt rather contrived compared with Spies The central idea that a missing Bruegel masterpiece might be found in the house of a hard up minor aristocrat who has no idea of its value is just about plausible and for me the best parts of the book are those where Frayn describes his own research into the art history For me the characters seemed a little too caricatured and although the narrator is probably meant to be unreliable his account stretches credibility rather too farI don't want to be overly harsh as for all these caveats it is still an entertaining read with some enjoyable comic set pieces


  6. Steve Steve says:

    I like boffin comeuppance humor – the kind where some bloviating egghead from the remotest groves of academe finds that his cluelessness about real life can come back to bite him Martin a second rate professor of philosophy and a first rate pedant is the storyteller in this one As you already know the joke is on him His new research interests concern art iconology nominalism and assorted other obscurities His wife is an art historian specializing in iconography as opposed to iconology which Martin distinguishes as a difference that matters As they begin a working vacation in the country they’re asked by a loutish neighbor nearby to look at some old family paintings There’s one the lout knows is worth something but it’s another that Martin believes through his particular expertise to be an unsigned yet truly major piece by a noted Dutch artist Frayn’s work here was very skillfully done As I’ve now come to expect from just about every writer from the Isles he has a real way with words But Frayn’s accomplishment goes beyond that He gave Martin’s first person narrative a book smart plausibility even as we readers were clued in to his debilitating lack of common sense The good professor’s foil was the aforementioned lout who was hoping to liuidate the remaining chunks of his inheritance But the truth of the matter is that Martin’s biggest foe was Martin If you’re like me and find yourself obliuely pulling for the guy he’ll jangle your nerves with his missteps And they were all so avoidable My dad couldn’t bear watching “I Love Lucy” for similar reasons – a heritable trait I suspect Anyway Martin could never see what the other players in the chess match might do; how even a nakedly greedy lunkhead could outmaneuver him in matters of finance At the same time he did superlative research into the neighbor’s painting It was his idée fixe He shed all kinds of light on its religious and societal context And even the most abstract symbolism was explained or considered Actually the art history was interesting than I would have thought even if it did at times go on for too longI rate this closer to 4 stars than to 3 but somewhere in that range It was worth many a wry smile and even a few snickers I got caught up in the story too which was somewhat surprising since plot is often just along for the ride in the boffin comeuppance genre


  7. Yaffa Shira Yaffa Shira says:

    I'm sure it is a well written and entertaining book for some people clearly the author is a good one He is good with words and has excellent insights and ways to describe the tension and distance between wife and husband I hated reading this book and could not wait until it was over I refused to put it down and forced myself to get thru it I did not understand nor was I interested in the descriptions of pieces of perhaps famous artwork These art history lessons went on for dozens of pages at a time all I was interested in was getting to the end


  8. Michelle Michelle says:

    What a frustrating book It should have been a very interesting book good premise and good writer from other books I've read of his prior to this one but somehow between way too much academic research and one dimensional characters it fell off the rails I really really wanted to like it but just didn't


  9. Leah Leah says:

    A major disappointmentHere we have a perfect example of how a book can affect people in very different ways Highly recommended by several people whose opinions I value and with whom I often find myself in agreement I assumed I would love this book HmmWhen our first person narrator Martin Clay is invited by his cartoonishly oafish country bumpkin neighbour to look at his art collection Martin though hardly an expert thinks he has spotted a missing Breugel Martin then plots how to acuire this painting for himself ostensibly to have the honour of being the one who discovered it but the two million or so he expects to get for it is a further motivationThere seems to be an unfortunate habit developing amongst authors whereby they do a ton of research and then decide they're going to use it all every single word loosely bunging a flimsy plot into the gaps and then calling it a novel At least sixty percent of this book is Frayn regurgitating the history of the 16th century Netherlands together with everything he could find on Breugel Not subtly weaving it into the story and not with any redeeming beauty of writing just pouring it out in a 'Look what I know' kind of way On the table in front of me I have Friedländer of course Glück Grossman Tolnay Stechow Genaille and Bianconi They uote each other freely together with various other authors not available in the London Library Hulin de Loo Michel Romdahl Stridbeck and Dvořák and they refer to the often mutually contradictory iconography used in two breviaries illuminated by Simon Bening of Bruges in the second and third decades of the sixteenth century the Hours of Hennessy and the Hours of Costa; in the Grimani Breviary also done a little earlier by Simon Bening and his father Alexander Bening although the calendar itself is attributed to Gerard Horenbout; and in our own dear 'Calendrier flamand' as I think of it in the Bavarian State LibraryThe other forty per cent is a fairly unsubtle farce as our unlikeable intellectually snobbish hero tries to do down his eually unlikeable 'half educated' neighbours while trying not to fall out with his enigma of a wife the woman with the least personality of any fictional character I have encountered There are some funny moments but many of the jokes are inviting the reader to join with the authornarrator in laughing at the bumpkins for their ignorance of art and philosophy or in mocking the narrator for his snobbery This combination means that the whole book has a sneering uality which left me unable to empathise with any of the overblown unattractive charactersDespite the fact that by a third of the way through I began to skip whole sections devoted to presumably partially made up art history it still took me the best part of two weeks to plough through the remaining snippets of plot mainly because I couldn't bear to read any about the tedious self absorbed and yet apparently irresistible to women Martin And since the ending was pretty much inevitable it was hardly a surprise except in that the author managed to make it unpleasant than I anticipated by adding in an incident of entirely unnecessary animal crueltySorry to all of you who love Frayn you're obviously seeing something in this that I'm notbut I'm afraid I found this one a major disappointment and doubt I'll be seeking out any of the author's workwwwfictionfanblogwordpresscom


  10. Derek Bridge Derek Bridge says:

    Ever erudite Michael Frayn always uses his deep knowledge of philosophy to inveigle something deeper into what on the surface might appear to be no than comic novels At one level Headlong is a comic romp we follow Martin Clay as he attempts to seize from his dull witted neighbour what he thinks is a long lost painting from Pieter Bruegel's series The Months On another level Frayn is excellent on academic obsession What for some readers of this novel is a turgid interlude for me at least was an exhilarating detective story as Clay pieces together clues as to what Bruegel might really be saying in his series of paintings a dark commentary on oppressive Spanish rule in 16th century Holland Cleverest of all is a distinction made between iconography roughly conventional symbolism and iconology roughly contextualized symbolism While this is ostensibly about the paintings it is really a reflection on human psychology the signs we and the characters in this novel show to ourselves and those around usNot as good as The Trick of It or A Landing on the Sun or Spies but still pretty damn good


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10 thoughts on “Headlong

  1. Jeff Jeff says:

    The combined smell of mildew old food and wet dog was about to make me heave undigested pot roast when our host had finally gotten around to telling us why he invited us to dinner“I heard you were something of a comic book aficionado and wanted your opinion on something”I eyed my wife and gave her the secret why the hell did you accept this dinner invitation from these oddballs look She countered with the you’re going to walk home if you give me that look again lookGetting up and walking to their den was a matter of avoiding the crotch sniffing dogs and trying to breathe through my mouth to inhale as little as possible the noxious food odor that had built up and was forcing itself out of the kitchen and into the hall wayThe room was filled with piles of books and old magazines A comic was not in sight He handed me a pile of a dozen of so that were under a wool sweater on his desk Looking through them I didn’t find anything much of value a few comics in poor condition from the fifties“I’ve had these things for years Can’t even tell you where I got them from You might find a few in a few of the other piles”As I turned around to look I caught a glimpse of my wife discreetly rolling her eyes I picked up a few magazines off the top of a stack of Redbooks and National Geographic’s Halfway through the stack I saw it Action Comics Number One Superman lifting a car My heart stopped beating Breathing became forced The room began to spin I barely noticed the Labrador sniffing my crotch “I am going to be rich” I thought to myself To our host “I don’t think you have much of value here Would you mind if I take these home and cross check them with a catalogue?”The actual book revolves around a British philosophy professorsoon to be amateur con man’s attempts to swindle what could be a long lost painting by Brueghel the Elder out of its owner’s hands There’s a lot of interesting background on the life of Brueghel as our protagonist attempts to prove if the painting is genuine and how it came into the hands of his asshat neighbor Sadly the “hero” has difficulty with the machinations of the “con” zigging when he should have zagged – misreading all of the players including his own wife This is a droll book in the same vein as Julian Barne’s Flaubert’s Parrot

  2. Teresa Teresa says:

    I've had it in my head to read this for a long time as I enjoyed Frayn's Spies and the premise seemed one I'd like I finally came across the book in a dimly lit very small branch library It was above my head and under a long blue tarp When I got the book into better light I found the cover intriguing as it reminded me of the 'falling man' in the painting in A Month in the Country Except for each novel's mysterious falling man no other comparison existsI imagine Frayn's impetus to writing this novel was his own disagreement with Bruegel scholarship and instead of letting his research go to waste he incorporated it straight into this book As interesting as the research is it didn't work for me as part of a novel The other element of the story a sort of bedroom farce just wasn't something I found funny or even appealingThe book got me googling various paintings though and I enjoyed that immensely

  3. Jose Jose says:

    This book was a very different and somewhat overwhelming reading experienceTaking into account Michael Frayn's expertise as an excellent playwright this book is not short in proving his prowess in dialogue development In it we are introduced to Martin who narrates his moral and ethical struggles during a possibly history changing art findingThe fact that amazed me the most from the book is the author's ability to intertwine a monologue type of narrative with mid XVI century nederlandish art lectures specifically about the work of master painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder; fact that gives a fiction novel a very interesting and enlighting flavorAs mentioned above the book is about Martin a philosopher recently turned art historian who coming upon a life changing art finding narrates to us his decision making process in deciding how to proceed with the painting found The only thing I would consider slightly tiresome were the art descriptions which are dense and extensive than needed making the reader loose the line of the narration Nonetheless Headlond is a very entertaining and funny book that as the reader is drawn into the story in a swiftly fashion it also informs about one of northern Europe's renaissance master painters

  4. Maria Thermann Maria Thermann says:

    Huge entertaining and informative Michael Frayn's book about an art historian turned frantic detective is a delight from start to finish I simply coudn't put it down and when it ended I went straight to my local library to get out books about the Netherlands and old Dutch mastersThe book will not only appeal to readers who like art history it's a hilarious account of an otherwise inept man trying to track down an old masterpiece A giant jigsaw puzzle that spans several centuries the protagonist's rumninations about life art history religion and political oppression of artists is thought provoking and handled in an entertaining way It's a great read but then this is Michael Frayn a master storyteller at work

  5. Hugh Hugh says:

    A bit of a curate's egg which I found a little disappointing if only because it felt rather contrived compared with Spies The central idea that a missing Bruegel masterpiece might be found in the house of a hard up minor aristocrat who has no idea of its value is just about plausible and for me the best parts of the book are those where Frayn describes his own research into the art history For me the characters seemed a little too caricatured and although the narrator is probably meant to be unreliable his account stretches credibility rather too farI don't want to be overly harsh as for all these caveats it is still an entertaining read with some enjoyable comic set pieces

  6. Steve Steve says:

    I like boffin comeuppance humor – the kind where some bloviating egghead from the remotest groves of academe finds that his cluelessness about real life can come back to bite him Martin a second rate professor of philosophy and a first rate pedant is the storyteller in this one As you already know the joke is on him His new research interests concern art iconology nominalism and assorted other obscurities His wife is an art historian specializing in iconography as opposed to iconology which Martin distinguishes as a difference that matters As they begin a working vacation in the country they’re asked by a loutish neighbor nearby to look at some old family paintings There’s one the lout knows is worth something but it’s another that Martin believes through his particular expertise to be an unsigned yet truly major piece by a noted Dutch artist Frayn’s work here was very skillfully done As I’ve now come to expect from just about every writer from the Isles he has a real way with words But Frayn’s accomplishment goes beyond that He gave Martin’s first person narrative a book smart plausibility even as we readers were clued in to his debilitating lack of common sense The good professor’s foil was the aforementioned lout who was hoping to liuidate the remaining chunks of his inheritance But the truth of the matter is that Martin’s biggest foe was Martin If you’re like me and find yourself obliuely pulling for the guy he’ll jangle your nerves with his missteps And they were all so avoidable My dad couldn’t bear watching “I Love Lucy” for similar reasons – a heritable trait I suspect Anyway Martin could never see what the other players in the chess match might do; how even a nakedly greedy lunkhead could outmaneuver him in matters of finance At the same time he did superlative research into the neighbor’s painting It was his idée fixe He shed all kinds of light on its religious and societal context And even the most abstract symbolism was explained or considered Actually the art history was interesting than I would have thought even if it did at times go on for too longI rate this closer to 4 stars than to 3 but somewhere in that range It was worth many a wry smile and even a few snickers I got caught up in the story too which was somewhat surprising since plot is often just along for the ride in the boffin comeuppance genre

  7. Yaffa Shira Yaffa Shira says:

    I'm sure it is a well written and entertaining book for some people clearly the author is a good one He is good with words and has excellent insights and ways to describe the tension and distance between wife and husband I hated reading this book and could not wait until it was over I refused to put it down and forced myself to get thru it I did not understand nor was I interested in the descriptions of pieces of perhaps famous artwork These art history lessons went on for dozens of pages at a time all I was interested in was getting to the end

  8. Michelle Michelle says:

    What a frustrating book It should have been a very interesting book good premise and good writer from other books I've read of his prior to this one but somehow between way too much academic research and one dimensional characters it fell off the rails I really really wanted to like it but just didn't

  9. Leah Leah says:

    A major disappointmentHere we have a perfect example of how a book can affect people in very different ways Highly recommended by several people whose opinions I value and with whom I often find myself in agreement I assumed I would love this book HmmWhen our first person narrator Martin Clay is invited by his cartoonishly oafish country bumpkin neighbour to look at his art collection Martin though hardly an expert thinks he has spotted a missing Breugel Martin then plots how to acuire this painting for himself ostensibly to have the honour of being the one who discovered it but the two million or so he expects to get for it is a further motivationThere seems to be an unfortunate habit developing amongst authors whereby they do a ton of research and then decide they're going to use it all every single word loosely bunging a flimsy plot into the gaps and then calling it a novel At least sixty percent of this book is Frayn regurgitating the history of the 16th century Netherlands together with everything he could find on Breugel Not subtly weaving it into the story and not with any redeeming beauty of writing just pouring it out in a 'Look what I know' kind of way On the table in front of me I have Friedländer of course Glück Grossman Tolnay Stechow Genaille and Bianconi They uote each other freely together with various other authors not available in the London Library Hulin de Loo Michel Romdahl Stridbeck and Dvořák and they refer to the often mutually contradictory iconography used in two breviaries illuminated by Simon Bening of Bruges in the second and third decades of the sixteenth century the Hours of Hennessy and the Hours of Costa; in the Grimani Breviary also done a little earlier by Simon Bening and his father Alexander Bening although the calendar itself is attributed to Gerard Horenbout; and in our own dear 'Calendrier flamand' as I think of it in the Bavarian State LibraryThe other forty per cent is a fairly unsubtle farce as our unlikeable intellectually snobbish hero tries to do down his eually unlikeable 'half educated' neighbours while trying not to fall out with his enigma of a wife the woman with the least personality of any fictional character I have encountered There are some funny moments but many of the jokes are inviting the reader to join with the authornarrator in laughing at the bumpkins for their ignorance of art and philosophy or in mocking the narrator for his snobbery This combination means that the whole book has a sneering uality which left me unable to empathise with any of the overblown unattractive charactersDespite the fact that by a third of the way through I began to skip whole sections devoted to presumably partially made up art history it still took me the best part of two weeks to plough through the remaining snippets of plot mainly because I couldn't bear to read any about the tedious self absorbed and yet apparently irresistible to women Martin And since the ending was pretty much inevitable it was hardly a surprise except in that the author managed to make it unpleasant than I anticipated by adding in an incident of entirely unnecessary animal crueltySorry to all of you who love Frayn you're obviously seeing something in this that I'm notbut I'm afraid I found this one a major disappointment and doubt I'll be seeking out any of the author's workwwwfictionfanblogwordpresscom

  10. Derek Bridge Derek Bridge says:

    Ever erudite Michael Frayn always uses his deep knowledge of philosophy to inveigle something deeper into what on the surface might appear to be no than comic novels At one level Headlong is a comic romp we follow Martin Clay as he attempts to seize from his dull witted neighbour what he thinks is a long lost painting from Pieter Bruegel's series The Months On another level Frayn is excellent on academic obsession What for some readers of this novel is a turgid interlude for me at least was an exhilarating detective story as Clay pieces together clues as to what Bruegel might really be saying in his series of paintings a dark commentary on oppressive Spanish rule in 16th century Holland Cleverest of all is a distinction made between iconography roughly conventional symbolism and iconology roughly contextualized symbolism While this is ostensibly about the paintings it is really a reflection on human psychology the signs we and the characters in this novel show to ourselves and those around usNot as good as The Trick of It or A Landing on the Sun or Spies but still pretty damn good

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