Summary and book reviews of Speaking With The Angel by Nick Hornby

Speaking With The Angel

By Nick Hornby

Speaking With The Angel
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  • Paperback: Feb 2001,
    256 pages.

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Compiled by bestselling author Nick Hornby and featuring brand new stories from the hottest writers on both sides of the Atlantic, Speaking with the Angel is a fresh and funny collection that is sure to be the literary anthology of the year.

Here is a book that was inspired by a very special boy and a very special school. Some money from each copy of Speaking with the Angel sold will benefit autism education charities around the world, including The Treehouse School in London, where Nick’s son Danny is a student, and the New York Child Learning Institute here in the States. This project is truly a labor of love for Hornby and the other writers involved, many of whom are Nick’s friends.

These original first-person narratives come from the most exciting voices in fiction. Melissa Bank gives readers a glimpse into the mind of a modern New Yorker whose still-new relationship is a constant source of surprise in "The Wonder Spot." In Zadie Smith’s "I’m the Only One," a young man recalls his strained relationship with his diva-esque sister. Dave Egger’s "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned," is told from the viewpoint of an unfortunate pit bull. Helen Fielding offers up a new twist on I’ve fallen and I can’t get up in "Luckybitch." And in Nick Hornby’s "NippleJesus," a bruiser finds out that guarding modern art is far more hazardous than controlling the velvet ropes at a nightclub. Speaking with the Angel also includes stories from Roddy Doyle, Irvine Welsh, Colin Firth, John O’Farrell, Robert Harris, Patrick Marber, and Giles Smith.

Twelve completely new stories, written by twelve undeniably imaginative voices. Speaking with the Angel is at turns clever, outrageous, witty, edgy, tender, and wicked. This is what they meant by original.

NIPPLEJESUS
by Nick Hornby

They never told me what it was, and they never told me why they might need someone like me. I probably wouldn’t have taken the fucking job if they had, to tell you the truth. Anyway. If I’d been clever, I would have asked them on the first day, because looking back on it now, I had a few clues to be going on with: we were all sat around in this staff-room type place, being given all the do’s and don’ts, and it never occurred to me that I was just about the only male under sixty they’d hired. There were a few middle-aged women, and a lot of gits, semi-retired, ex-Army types, but there was only one bloke of around my age, and he was tiny—little African geezer, Geoffrey, who looked like he’d run a mile if anything went off. But sometimes I forget what I look like, if you know what I mean. I was sitting there listening to what this woman was saying about flash photography and how close people were allowed to get and all that, and I was more like a head ...

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Media Reviews
New York Times - Michiko Kakutani

Though the stories vary enormously in quality, they provide the reader unfamiliar with these writers with a tasting menu of their work, and longtime fans with some new morsels of fiction to debate. Dave Eggers's entry, After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned, which recounts the short, happy life of a pit bull, is a small tour de force that ratifies his ability to write about anything with style and vigor and genuine emotion.... Zadie Smith's contribution, I'm the Only One, similarly showcases her gift for creating funny, engaging characters...

Publishers Weekly

Starred review. A virtual who's who of the latest literary guard, this anthology bristles with the crackly talent and confidence of both the newly and already fabulous…the voices are consistent, fresh, particular…None of these twelve stories disappoints.

The Spectator (London)

An outstandingly good collection…Each story [is] permeated with deadpan wit, modernity, and a unique sense of awfulness.

The Evening Standard (London)

Delicious.

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