"My name is Mike Engleby, and I'm in my second year at an ancient university."
With that brief introduction we meet one of the most mesmerizing, singular voices in a long tradition of disturbing narrators. Despite his obvious intelligence and compelling voice, it is clear that something about solitary, odd Mike is not quite right. When he becomes fixated on a classmate named Jennifer Arkland and she goes missing, we are left with the looming question: Is Mike Engleby involved? As he grows up, finding a job and even a girlfriend in London, Mike only becomes more and more detached from those around him in an almost anti-coming-of-age. His inability to relate to others and his undependable memory (able to recall countless lines of text yet sometimes incapable of summoning up his own experiences from mere days before) lead the reader down an unclear and often darkly humorous path where one is never completely comfortable or confident about what is true.
"Starred Review. Though sometimes heavy with the tropes of self-deception and misdirection, this is a compelling psychological portrait of a man who is at once profoundly disturbed and wryly funny." - PW.
"Like Human Traces, Engleby is distinguished by a remarkable intellectual energy: a narrative verve, technical mastery of the possibilities of the novel form and vivid sense of the tragic contingency of human life." - The Telegraph (UK).
"The good news about Engleby - for those who found Human Traces almost impossible to digest - is that this time Faulks's exploration of the mysteries of consciousness is presented as an aspect of character rather than a historical thesis ..... a significant departure for Faulks, and the new terrain suits him well." - The Telegraph (UK).
"The cover describes Engleby as a 'lament for a generation that failed its country'. True, Faulks sees little to celebrate in the past 25 years or in his characters careers in the media or making money, but this does not really work as a meditation on misplaced media influence. Better to read it as a portrait of one mind out of joint with its times, and eventually defeated by them. That way, witty, poignant, Engleby is as cold as a Fenland wind, as clever as a Cambridge don.
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Rated of 5
I found Engleby disturbing but was also intrigued as to how a writer could show such beautiful sensitivity toward women in novels like Charlotte Gray, and then create a monster like Mike, who has no respect for anyone.
I admire Faulks' writing ability immensely. He has such wit and lovely turns of phrase. He is one of my favourite writers.
I've always been interested in criminal psychology and this could read as a warning I think. How easy it is for society to produce people like Mike.
Sebastian Faulks was born on 20 April 1953 and was educated at Wellington
College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was the first literary editor of
The Independent and became deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday
before leaving in 1991 to concentrate on writing. He has been a columnist for
The Guardian (1992-8) and the Evening Standard (1997-9). He continues
to contribute articles and reviews to a number of newspapers and magazines. He
wrote and presented the Channel 4 Television series 'Churchill's Secret Army',
screened in 1999. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His first novel, A Trick of the Light, was published in 1984. His other novels include The Girl at the Lion d'Or (1989), set in France between the First and Second ...
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