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the Complete Review
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Hunters and Gatherers

Geoff Nicholson

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To purchase Hunters and Gatherers

Title: Hunters and Gatherers
Author: Geoff Nicholson
Genre: Novel
Written: 1991
Length: 215 pages
Availability: Hunters and Gatherers - US
Hunters and Gatherers - UK
Hunters and Gatherers - Canada

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Our Assessment:

A- : a most entertaining fiction on collecting and obsession

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Atlantic Monthly . 1/1995 Phoebe-Lou Adams
Boston Globe . 11/12/1994 Chris Bohjalian
The LA Times A 13/2/1995 Chris Goodrich
The NY Times A- 20/12/1994 Michiko Kakutani
The NY Times Book Rev. B+ 5/2/1995 Eric Kraft
The New Yorker . 12/6/1995 .
Time B+ 23/1/1995 John Skow
The Village Voice . 7/2/1995 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Mike becomes, in essence, an anti-collector and disappears from the book, thus allowing Nicholson to have his cake and eat it, too -- to incorporate disorder within order. It's a shrewd bit of legerdemain, and indicative of the bright, penetrating intelligence lying behind this novel." - Chris Goodrich, The Los Angeles Times

  • "Although Mr. Nicholson is heavy-handed, at times, in his use of such developments to score philosophical points, his orchestration of the novel's many jangling plot lines is so fluent, his understanding of his hapless characters so sure, that the reader barely notices. Indeed, his own novel stands as a charming little testament to the ordering impulses of art." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

  • "Hunters & Gatherers is a clever, entertaining and intriguing British import, literate and rich, with references to culture high and low, and it's enlivened by a ripe cynicism. But there is a hole at its center." - Eric Kraft, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Nicholson's tale is not so much a novel as a collection of loosely related fiction riffs, but it does not suffer at all from its lack of connective tissue." - John Skow, Time

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The hunters and gatherers of the title are obsessed collectors, the ultimate embodiment of the characters that people all of Nicholson's fiction. In Nicholsonian fashion the collections themselves range from the simple to the highly unusual. The premise is simple: Steve Geddes has been commissioned to write a book about collectors, and in the course of his research he comes across a number of intriguing and bizarre personalities, all trying to order their lives by creating an artificial order in, at least, their bizarre collections.
       Another strand of the interwoven novel is the eighteen volume encyclopedia, The Books of Power, which Geddes' friend Jim is purchasing piece by piece, and the mysterious and reclusive writer, Thornton McCain. Geddes becomes more obsessed with McCain than completing his own project (in part because his girlfriend reading aloud from one of McCain's books cured him of his impotence). At the same time the many collectors find that their collections are being sabotaged and destroyed, and that these collections cannot be relied upon to anchor their worlds.
       Nicholson deftly draws out the story, in an entertaining and most amusing meditation on the possibility and the impossibility of organizing life, and of creating art. Self-reflexive, Nicholson has enough originality to put a new spin on things, making for a fine success. Certainly recommended.

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Hunters and Gatherers: Reviews: Geoff Nicholson: Other books by Geoff Nicholson under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       English author Geoff Nicholson, born in Sheffield in 1953, has written a flurry of novels. He lives in London and New York.

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