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Description - The Cloud of Dust by Charlie Boxer

This short novella is the story of a love affair. A young man goes up to Edinburgh University. Lonely, he writes letters to his mother and to his best friend Paul. He tells them about the city, about the people he has met, the books he has read. Then one day he meets a girl, Kate. Almost from that moment he is lost. Intoxicated, agonized, his love for Kate becomes all consuming, obsessive. He believes she loves him too, but she is already committed to another, and his focus changes to an intense exploration of what love really means. Astonishing in its intensity and the beauty of its language, "The Cloud of Dust" has all the makings of a cult bestseller.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285649
ISBN-10: 0099285649
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 10mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - The Cloud of Dust by Charlie Boxer

Book Reviews - The Cloud of Dust by Charlie Boxer

UK Kirkus Review » This novella is frustrating and enriching at the same time. It is the story of first love experienced by an undergraduate at Edinburgh University. He is also the narrator and, according to the cover copy, the author - so we are in the post-modern world of so-called truth dressed up as so-called fiction. The story is revealed through a series of letters which the narrator sends to his Mother and a friend called Paul. He chronicles the growth of an obsessive passion with Kate, a fellow student whom he discovers, too late, is already seriously involved with another man. Charlie, our narrator, therefore explores the solitude of his emotional landscape, mainly through literature and anecdotal nuggets of information about life in Edinburgh. He quotes extensively to his poor friend Paul, who is always being recommended the most obscure (and pretentious) of texts. This heavy reliance on his literary forefathers fails to give his novella the same stature. Which is a shame because there are moments of startling perception and enough lyrical writing in a story which is generally powerful enough to have sustained itself without these associations. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Originally published in Boxer's native Britain, this pretentious little debut novel-literally small, as if meant for a place near the cash register-recounts through letters a young Edinburgh University student's unconsummated love affair with a young woman who may or may not love him back. The letters are written by the narrator (like Boxer, named Charlie) to his suffering mother and friend Paul. Charlie has come from London to study in Edinburgh. From a wealthy family, he refers periodically to a public scandal involving his father's affair to a famous woman, although there is not enough follow-up to make it a plot development. Charlie's letters to his mother are far more self-revealing than a contemporary young man would likely write, while those to Paul gush with sensitive affection that seemingly unintended homoeroticism flavors the story even when Charlie falls in love with Katie. He writes of his increasing fascination and infatuation with her (she's given Boxer's wife's name), as if building to a romantic tragedy, but what's described sounds more like puppy love in the trappings of pseudointellectual spirituality, while Katie is given superlatives, sometimes contradictory, that don't add up to a dynamic portrait. Devoted to her widowed mother, she is also enamored of speed-a possibly important piece of information that Charlie mentions only once-and has a mostly absent boyfriend. Charlie spins convoluted sentences full of abstraction but without a hint of humor or irony. He is also painfully repetitive, even reprinting several pages of a letter to his mother in another to Paul. Although references to Bob Dylan and jeans try to make for contemporaneity, the language and, more importantly, the narrator's worldview lands somewhere between Victorian and Edwardian. At one point, there's even mention of monocle-wearing undergraduates. Insufferable, and impossible to take seriously. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Charlie Boxer

Charlie Boxer is the son of Mark Boxer and Arabella Boxer. He lives in London with his wife and two children.