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It's the 1980s. Thatcher's Downing Street, champagne is the drink du jour, it is the hour of the entrepreneur. Wilf Wellingborough is not really the man for the moment. Pleasant, friendly, puzzled by life and by love, he's astonished when Jimmy Spalding, whom he's known since childhood, gives him the job of editing Arts Unlimited, a magazine with no circulation to speak of but with enormous prestige. The story of seven friends from Oxford and their adventures in the world of the media in the 1980s, Smashing People is written with a wickedly funny eye for the absurdities of journalism and publishing and a profound wisdom about the ways of the human heart.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099285953
ISBN-10: 0099285959
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 128mm x 17mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jan-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


UK Kirkus Review » This is one book the reader really can judge by its title: edgy, witty and cruel. The same adjectives apply to the period in which Fishwick sets his story: Mrs Thatcher's yuppified London. And finally they will stretch to his cast of characters: the young vultures of media and publishing who leapt out of the ashes of old Fleet Street in the 1980s and shook themselves free of lofty aspirations and literature with a capital L. A group of friends from Oxford forms the central cast. Bound for the top of their professional heaps, they twist and turn and cheat in bed and business, rubbing guilt off on each other until there is no more to spare. Their selfish, manipulative and (for us) entertaining scramble is observed by the protagonist, Wilf Wellingborough, the most wide-eyed of their number, a sweetheart, doomed to be a fall-guy ever since the evening early in his not-so meteoric rise he turns too quickly at a party and spills his champagne all over Iris Murdoch. (Real People mix freely with the fictional in Smashing People; the reader almost wants an index.) 'It is universal law,' says Wilf, 'the fresh-faced energetic newcomers overwhelm the ancient but prestigious relic; then assume the characteristics of their victim. Watch any David Attenborough programme.' In the chill dawn of political correctness, Fishwick's women are as ambitious and lubricious as the men, only a touch less arch, not quite so generously filled with alcohol, marginally more sorrowful, prettier, and generally a fraction more mature. There is a biting charm, faintly reminiscent of the sophisticated 1930s about Fishwick's 1980s. At least his people, though rotters in the main, were articulate and educated in that not very lamented decade before the sales men and admen of the 1990s grabbed print media and ran with it. No doubt some readers will find Fishwick's novel a glittering roman-a-clef (filofax-a-clef?); for most of us, however, it is an alarming glimpse into a world we never quite made. Thank heaven! Review by Irma Kurtz Editor's note: Irma Kurtz is the author of Dear London: Notes from the Big City and The Great American Bus Ride, both published by Fourth Estate. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Michael Fishwick

Michael Fishwick grew up in London and graduated from Oxford. He works in book publishing, is married and has three children. His second novel, Sacrifices, was published in 2001.

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