Capital✯ [PDF] ❤ Capital By John Lanchester ✼ – From the best selling author of The Debt to Pleasure a sweeping social novel set at the height of the financial crisisCelebrated novelist John Lanchester an elegant and wonderfully witty writer—New From the best selling author of The Debt to Pleasure a sweeping social novel set at the height of the financial crisisCelebrated novelist John Lanchester an elegant and wonderfully witty writer—New York Times returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time It's and things are falling apart Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under and the residents of Pepys Road London a banker and his shopaholic wife an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti artist grandson Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading We Want What You Have Who is behind it What do they want Epic in scope yet intimate capturing the ordinary dramas of very different lives this is a novel of love and suspicion of financial collapse and terrorist threat of property values going up and fortunes going down and of a city at a moment of extraordinary tension. I’ve formed the habit of checking on the one star reviews there are always some of each book I read to decide if I share their view At time of writing this book has 452 reviews and averages 4 stars so what did the 25 odd readers out take exception to? Well in summary they say a the characters are stereotypes b it doesn’t have much story and c it is padded with too many words Do I agree? a No this criticism in my view entirely misses the point The cast is indeed chosen to represent various stereotypes of people we can glimpse every day in a South London suburb but they are drawn with considerable skill love and insight to reveal them as individuals I particularly loved the Polish builder the Zimbabwean traffic warden and the investment banker and his ghastly wife b There is not much story in the dramatic sense but this is not a book about heroes and villains; it’s a tapestry Each character’s life had enough development to hold my interest amuse or involve me while adding to the multi faceted picture of London life in 2008 that is the point of the book c The style is uite baggy and prolix; some of the admirably short chapters are a little static and repetitious; some of the prose could be punchier That said however it reads easily and has plenty of pithy moments eg “ at the weekend uite a few other bankers and their wives could be seen on the Common their pushchairs so big and unwieldy they were like infant SUVs” I enjoyed it I can't say this ever engaged me much In many ways Lanchester tries to do for London what Tom Wolfe did for New York in The Bonfire of Vanities but less successfully Especially because there's dramatic tension in Wolfe's book his characters are much richer and complex and he's a better prose writer than Lanchester who favours a functional rather prosaic writing style Capital is a long novel with a lot of characters none of whom I found particularly interesting and a couple of whom I found hollow pastiches the banker's wife Arabella especially A grave fault because she was representing the dubious ethics of the higher echelon of London's social ladder But because she never came across as anything but caricature the novel's moral infrastructure never convinced for me And it's uite a judgemental novel at heart with hard lines We're called upon to boo the banker and cheer the immigrant which isn't the most demanding of challenges unless you're a racist bigot Another problem I had is there are so many characters that Lanchester spends a lot of time reminding us who they are There's a constant sense of denouements being set up but being endlessly delayed Entire chapters are often recaps of what we already know The central character is contemporary London and most of the best passages were observations about the city itself That said I can't say I'd recommend this as a trenchant insight into the backstage life of the city of my birth It often felt simplistic and glib The moral dilemmas forced and predictable In fact half way through I realised I'd already read this novel years ago and completely forgotten about it John Lanchester had me hooked from page one of this 500 page novel My expectation was that he was going to show us how the financial meltdown of 2008 effected the lives of the people on one London street He does that to some extent but what he really delivers is an intimate look at life right before the crash happenedThe people of Pepys Road are mostly upper and upper middle class folks and Lanchester takes us in and out of their houses in smoothly written prose that is just the right mix of intimacy and distance In addition to the homeowners on the street he delves into the lives of the handymen meter maids and nannies on the block as well as their relatives and friends He creates a kaleidoscope view of the block that bridges class race and religion This seeming homogenous steet is shown to be much diverse than we would realize at first glanceMoney is the obvious thread running through the novel but eually important are uestions of identity One character is an artist who does his work anonymously another is a refugee working under an assumed name the housewife getting repairs doesn't call the Polish contractor by his name and a banker steals passwords to conduct trades The main thing that binds the characters is that everyone on the block has been getting postcards that say We Want What You Have The postcards are pictures of their front doors and it starts as an oddity and ends up feeling menacing Afterall once we know what the people have dysfunctional marriages terminal diseases and homesickness for Africa the uestion is why would anybody want itPeel away the posh houses and the expensive cars and even before the crash there was a lot of misery Although no one has it as bad as the meter maid a refugee from Africa desperately seeking asylum in a society that doesn't really care I'm a bit heartbroken that I've finished the book So sad to leave all these amazing characters and their stories The mystery behind We Want What You Have may be over but their lives go on and I can't help but wonder what happened in 2009 Posh Eastenders that’s basically what John Lanchester’s Capital is Instead of the east end working class whose lives revolve around Albert Suare here you’ve got the middleupper middle class denizens of Pepys Road A banker a footballer an artist and the less wealthy who’re connected to them in other capacities a builder a nanny a traffic warden a granny a spoilt wife a wannabe jihadi and the family that run the nearby newsagent Is it any good? You don’t finish a nearly 600 page novel if you’re not enjoying it on some level but I also wouldn’t say that it’s particularly brilliant either For a book of this size and ambition it’s surprisingly light and unsubstantive I notice that the blurb mentions the 2008 crash uite prominently but that’s misleading there’s some mention of the financial crisis towards the end of the book but it’s never really about that and it doesn’t affect any of the characters If there’s a plot it’s that there’s a mysterious campaign against the inhabitants of Pepys Road where they’re sent postcards DVDs and later dead birds in the post informing them that “We Want What You Have” who is “we” why are they doing it and to what end? It’s intriguing but it’s also a barely developed storyline that’s not what the book’s about either and the reveal of who it was and the motives behind it are both unremarkable and underwhelming The book is really just a slice of life narrative about the various characters’ lives and your enjoyment of the novel will depend on how interested you are in them I liked the rather stupid banker’s story getting a look into the reckless bubble like world of the wealthy and the banking industry was engaging to me Shahid Kamal’s storyline too was engrossing if only for where it went showing us what it’s like to be considered a terrorist rather than anything up to that point The other storylines are occasionally amusing but are largely unmemorable The Polish builder Zbigniew’s storyline went somewhere unexpected and almost approached exciting drama as did Roger the banker’s second in command Mark’s storyline But Lanchester’s storytelling is almost always unhurried making it easy to put down and at times frustratingly dull The problem with Lanchester’s Dickensian cast of characters is that too many of them felt irrelevant and yet he spends chapter after chapter on them I mean what was the point of Petunia’s storyline? She’s an old lady who pottered about her house until she got a brain tumour and died Roger’s wife Arabella pampers herself with outrageously expensive things so what? Freddy Kamo the teenage football star from Senegal uentina the traffic warden asylum seeker Smitty the Banksy esue artist Matya the nanny what did dwelling on any of them for pages and pages do for the overall narrative? Not much in my view Which is the problem with this novel as critically acclaimed as it was as seriously as it takes itself and briefly mentions important issues banking practices terrorism immigration racism it’s not really about or says anything at all remarkable on those things It’s just snapshots of various people’s lives presented without commentary that leaves very little impression That’s not to say it’s an unenjoyable read or that Lanchester was wrong to have focused so much on so many characters because every character had something about them that was mildly compelling to read about at some point And Lanchester’s prose is largely accessible and easy to read But Capital is also an overlong rambling and unfocused non story that’s little than a literary soap opera This book was not as engaging as it could have been I really like that it was about different inhabitants of one street and their individual stories However I don’t think the execution was there Despite this it was intriguing enough to keep me reading until the end By Peter Thal LarsenBanking is fiction’s hidden profession Despite decades of financial expansion novelists and playwrights have struggled to imagine a contemporary Shylock or Augustus Melmotte the shadowy star of Anthony Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now” A uarter of a century has passed since Tom Wolfe dreamt up Sherman McCoy the bond trader who personified the arrogance and greed of an earlier boom in “The Bonfire of the Vanities” With the crisis wreckage still smouldering the characters in most contemporary novels are likely to be found robbing a bank than working for oneRoger Yount the anti hero of John Lanchester’s “Capital” is therefore a rare breed As head of the currency trading department at a mid sized City of London investment bank in late 2007 he is well placed to anticipate the imminent market storm Except that Yount who has a tenuous grasp of the complex strategies used by his traders doesn’t see it coming Instead he sits at his desk trying to calculate the size of his bonus Then he lists the expenditure – mortgages private schools nannies second homes skiing holidays taxis – that will consume his cash Sherman McCoy complained he was “going broke on a million dollars a year” Yount’s lifestyle reuires the same figure in sterlingLanchester whose previous book “Whoops” was an entertaining explanation of the crisis does a good job of capturing the atmosphere inside a modern investment bank with its multinational collection of mostly men engaged in the meritocratic pursuit of wealth Privately educated well mannered and British Yount epitomises the entitled Land Rover driving breed that colonised London’s desirable residential areas in the last decade making them all but unaffordable for everyone elseLanchester shares the modern Londoner’s obsession with property values The book opens with a detailed description of the homes in Pepys Road the “ordinary street in the capital” where Yount lives with his wife Arabella and two young children Built by the Victorians for the lower middle classes the terraced houses have been so pumped up by cheap credit that they are now worth millions “Having a house in Pepys Road was like being in a casino in which you were guaranteed to be a winner”Yet in its attempt to look behind all the doors of Pepys Road the novel loses its way Lanchester introduces us to a bewildering cross section of characters the Pakistani family who run the local newsagent’s the Polish builder the African Premier League footballer the illegal immigrant working as a traffic warden the old woman dying of a brain tumour and the Banksy style artist whose main selling point is his anonymityIt’s a valiant attempt to capture the diversity of life in the capital However Lanchester struggles to manage the different story lines His solution is to carve up the book into many small sections its 600 pages are divided into 106 chapters and jump between characters Unfortunately these snapshots reduce most of the players to two dimensional stereotypes Moreover despite their physical proximity they barely interact This presumably is Lanchester’s point but it hardly makes for a coherent narrativeIn the confusion Yount gets less attention than he deserves Though he ambles through situations rich with potential for exploring the anthropology of London investment bankers a shooting weekend in Norfolk a team building poker night a charity dinner the scenes feel half finished as if Lanchester is too impatient to move on to the next section Even Yount’s downfall when it inevitably arrives proves something of an anticlimaxParts of “Capital” will resonate with anyone who has lived or worked in London over the past decade Whether it will appeal to readers without direct recent experience of the city and the City is less clear Either way Roger Yount is unlikely to join the thinly populated pantheon of famous fictional financiers Perhaps that will only be expanded when the rubble of the crisis has finally been cleared This book started of very promising Set against the backdrop of a very wealthy London neighborhood just before and during the beginning of the financial crisis the book explored the lives of several very different people A banker his selfish wife a refugee a soccer phenom imported from an African village a dying woman her daughter a polish laborer a family of Muslim immigrants and a couple othersI have to say the first third of the book I was very into it Plots were developing characters were painted I'm not going to say developed since most were pretty one dimensional and I was fascinated to see how he was going to tie it all together As a reader you know that the financial crisis is going to happen and know that it's going to affect all these people So there's tensionThe thing isnothing really happens The stories all wind themselves out There is almost no interleaving between the characters or plotlines And the financial crisis hardly changes anything For such a long book it was very very frustrating to get to the end and feel Wait is that it??Clearly I'm not a fan 35 rating is about what I'd give Capital This is one of those EXPANSIVE NOVELS Four Partsvaried characterssmall mysteryPepys Road the community on the brink of financial crisis in London 2008If you think you'd enjoy to read about the homes streets shops historic city of LondonWith Family Drama You like long GRAND EXPANSIVE NOVELS Then you'll enjoy this bookIf in a hurry you might get bored Me I'm in the 'middle' I did enjoy this book yet I think it would still have been good if it were about 200 pages less Although it's early in the year this novel is a finalist in my favorite book of the year contest I hadn't read anything by John Lanchester before so I was unprepared for the elegance humor and irony in the language The book takes place in London just before the economic collapse We meet a wide range of characters centering around a street called Pepys Street that has recently become gentrified The homes are bought by the up and coming who then pour lavish amounts of money to make the homes into their own personal palace to include digging basements raising roofs expensive sound systems the latest in kitchens although they often don't cook and luxurious baths We also meet the immigrants some legal others not Winding it's way through the book is a common thread Every resident is getting weird postcards that say We Want What You've Got Then a DVD arrives showing front doors bay windows Christmas decorations and This was so well written that I traded in my book credits for bookmoochcom and paperbackswapcom in order to pick up a few of his older books I'm not sure when I'll get to them Right now my library pile is two books deep Then there are all the books I've swapped and bought over the years So many books So little time However I think I'll DEFINITELY make reading at least ONE of them a priority and soon The first two definitions for ‘capital’ in the Oxford English Dictionary run thusCapital ˃ noun 1 The city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative capital of the country or region Warsaw is the capital of Poland with modifier a place associated than any other with a specified activity or product the fashion capital of the world 2 mass noun wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organisation or available for a purpose such as starting a company or investing rules of return on invested capital were high the excess of company’s assets over its liabilities people who possess wealth and use it to control a society’s economic activity considered collectively a conflict of interest between capital and labour with modifier figurative a valuable resource of a particular kind there is insufficient investment in human capitalWe could of course go further and look at the word’s prominent role in capital letters or indeed at its blood thirsty interest in capital punishment but John Lancaster’s novel is very much an exploration of the first two definitions Here we have the modern state of the nation epic novel The kind of thing Charles Dickens earned a crust by or Anthony Trollope pulled off in ‘The Way We Live Now’ Indeed Trollope’s book is a fine comparison examining as it does similar concerns about money and its effect on LondonYes London is the capital in which the action takes place but specifically Pepys Road in the affluent South West of the city It’s fitting that the street in a book about the comings and goings of London life should be named after the finest diarist of the comings and goings of London life Here we follow various characters either living or visiting the high flying banker the corner shop owner the widow who’s been in the street her whole life the Polish builder the Hungarian nanny and a contemporary Banksy style artist The narrative follows their lives and their fortunes through the 2007 and 2008 financial crash putting human faces to the stark black and white headlinesHowever despite some fine passages and some excellent stretches it seems that the state of the play novel is harder to pull off than it used to beFirstly a Dickens or a Trollope or a Gissing for that matter had far greater success in making their characters interact True in the realistic modern London novel that’s harder to do There is no forum in which everybody in a community would come together and chat and get to know each other No local factory where everybody works No regularly thrown street parties No local pub which everybody goes to Pay attention ‘EastEnders’ You are portraying an absolute fiction As such some outside element has to be introduced This Lancaster does by having a series of mysterious photographs each showing a photo of a character’s own front door sent to residents under the banner of ‘We Want What You Have’ It’s a creepy touch that serves as the initial motor of the story although it’s one that will be a tad familiar to anyone who has seen Michael Haneke’s ‘Hidden’ but it’s also one largely perfunctory and is parked in the sidings for long stretches of the novel As a whodunit as well it’s not overly successful there’s a character so ridiculously tangential to proceedings that he’s fairly easily picked out as the logical suspect It works to give a connection to the characters the same concern they all have in the back of their minds and for one chapter does serve to bring everybody together in a big community meeting However it’s a scene I felt was oddly botched It should have been a cornerstone of the book with the invisible lines between these characters breaking apart momentarily – perhaps fleeting friendships would flare up perhaps even some innocent flirting There might even have been a connection made which lasted beyond the meeting a chance for two characters who hitherto barely knew each other to stand chatting on the street Instead the friendly policeman not a Pepys Road resident doing most of the talkingSo okay the interaction between characters is not overly satisfying but then the of the book I read and it is a long book I wondered about the reality of the characters chosen Were they characters or were they merely symbols? I liked the set of chapters detailing the Younts the most upwardly mobile figures in the book but they are clearly characters who must obey Chekhov’s rule Can a banker introduced in act one not have suffered a humiliating fall by act three? Similarly the Muslim family in the corner shop Can a young Muslim man be introduced in a twenty first century novel and not be arrested on terrorism offences by act three? These are interesting characters I liked them but clearly they have their own dramatic rules to follow and so lose their free wills – becoming obvious symbols in a greater thematic planOther strands are less successful Following a Zimbabwean traffic warden trudge around the streets just feels a bit of a well trudge While the Banksy esue just feels as if Lancaster wanted to have a pop at the absurdities of modern art but knew he didn’t have enough material for a whole book and so littered it through this one See also the Premiership footballer who barely makes it above the level of a cypherAs you may have guessed this is a very cosmopolitan novel It’s a novel which embraces the cosmopolitan where all the characters are comfortable with it So it’s noticeable that one strata of society not represented is the indigenous working class Yes it’s a street which has now become wealthy but inclusion is made of visiting Polish builders and Hungarian nannies Why isn’t there anyone British? Why isn’t there someone who can give the ‘fings ain’t what they used to be’ point of view? This is a very liberal novel a view and standpoint I share and it’s a book where everyone readily accepts this new way of things In a Britain where the right wing press will regularly hark on about illegal immigrants and British jobs for British people both things which I know are touched upon in the sections concerning the Zimbabwean traffic warden it does feel odd that no one makes any overt comments They would not be views I share but they are views which clearly exist and if one is writing an epic state of the nation London novel it seems odd not to acknowledge them If a writer is going to capture a panorama to portray life as it happens life in the raw then that voice – no matter how unpalatable you may find it – also needs to be heardA lot of ‘Capital’ is successfully pulled off – with lonely widows Polish builders and city bankers captured with real skill and empathy Some parts are better than others but there’s a lot good here than bad And while it’s unfair to judge it solely on how well it stands up against masters like Dickens Gissing or Trollope it can hold itself high as something of a success in portraying modern London London living is essentially village life Your area of the city is your village and so you know that part of London and really have little clue about other areas – those are other people’s villages For example I have lived in the South East of the city for fourteen years and so somewhere like Kilburn in the North West might as well be on Mars I’m shortly to move to the suburbs to embark on a uest to become Leonard Bast but I will always have an affection for London writing This book doesn’t capture my village but it does clearly capture a village in London and at its best creates a vivid and human portrait

Paperback  ↠ Capital Epub ¿
  • Paperback
  • 577 pages
  • Capital
  • John Lanchester
  • English
  • 04 July 2015
  • 9780571234622