Berg A Man Called Berg, Who Changed His Name To Greb, Came To A Seaside Town Intending To Kill His FatherSo Begins Ann Quin S First Novel, Which Has Been Compared To The Fiction Of Samuel Beckett And Nathalie Sarraute Against The Backdrop Of This Gritty Seaside Town, An Absurd And Brutal Plot Develops Involving Three Characters Alistair Berg, His Father, And Their Mutual Mistress In His Attempt To Kill His Father, Berg Mutilates A Ventriloquist S Dummy, Almost Falls Victim To His Father S Mistaken Sexual Advances, And Is Relentlessly Taunted By A Group Of Tramps Disturbing And At Times Startlingly Comic, Berg Chronicles The Interrelations Among These Three Characters As They Circle One Another In An Escalating Spiral Of Violence

Ann Quin 1936 1973 was a British writer noted for her experimental style The author of Berg 1964 , Three 1966 , Passages 1969 and Tripticks 1972 , she committed suicide in 1973 at the age of 37.Quin came from a working class family and was educated at the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament She trained as a shorthand typist and worked in a solicitor s office, then at a publishing company whe

✯ [BOOKS] ⚣ Berg By Ann Quin ✼ –
  • Paperback
  • 168 pages
  • Berg
  • Ann Quin
  • English
  • 09 December 2018
  • 9781564783028

10 thoughts on “Berg

  1. says:

    I ll try to keep this short, as I don t have anything very fresh to say about this cult classic of 60s experimental fiction, Ann Quin s debut novel, which was republished earlier this year by And Other Stories.The first line is justifiably famous, and gets a page to itself A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father .What follows is of an acquired taste, a farcical nightmare story in which the boundaries between reality and Berg s feverish imagination are not always clear The writing is impressive throughout, but I struggled a little to find any sympathy for any of the three main characters An interesting read nonetheless.

  2. says:

    Reading Ann Quin s mad, brilliant final novel Tripticks, I was often struck by her uniquely garbled diction, a thick, high modern mess of interior thoughts and memories blended into exterior details and actions, past and present and the entirely imagined mingling on every page But in Tripticks, mingling also with a huge array of intruding outside material, brochures and pulp synopses and magazine texts, which I thought might account for the garbledness But no, even here, in her first novel, whose entire text is apparently its own, nearly every paragraph lurches, flailing, through mind and landscape and personal history It s disorienting, it certainly keeps you on your toes, but it s acutely perceptive and often wildly entertaining once you get the feel for it.All the same, and despite the premise promise encapsulated in the famous first line A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father , this didn t really feel as fine honed as the later work Though the dreary mysterious off season Brighton of the book the same in which Quin was to disappear into the ocean a decade later has its intrigues and muted fascinations, the single mindedness of the protagonist narrows its interest somewhat Berg is a Freudian archetype granted comedic noir context, a maybe murderer trapped in oedipal confusion between mother, father, and women in general The strictness of the archetypes that he finds himself in squeeze some of the surprise out of the story s course, though it is not without its unexpected curves and absurdities I think, actually, that the greater issue is just that in sticking to a familiar psychological case study, Quin drastically limits her satiric range narrowing the wit that would dash across the entire American landscape in Tripticks.

  3. says:

    A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father.And Other Stories 2018 publication of The Unmapped Country Stories and Fragments has refocused attention on experimental British novelist Ann Quin, who committed suicide in 1973 aged just 37, who was best known for her 1964 debut Berg.The story has Alistair Aly Charles Humphrey Berg, born 1931, a young and rather unsuccessful hair tonic salesman, coming to Brighton where he has tracked down his scoundrel of a father, who he last saw, when he was a child, 28 years ago Concealing his identity by the simple expedient of changing his name to Greb, he takes up lodgings in a room next door to his father s, fully intending to commit patricide.But a tangled tale follows Berg finds himself becoming infatuated with his father s younger lover, and confused, when pursuing his planned vengeance, between the old man and a tailor s dummy his father apparently uses in a vaudeville act, which at different times is mistaken for a Bonfire Night Guy and a dead body A budgie and a cat are some of the collateral casualties of the escalating violence resulting from the seedy love triangle between son, roguish father and the flirtatious middle aged lover of both The other key character is Brighton itself, recognisable from landmarks but transformed into something eerie and dream like yet at the same time earthy and sordid, the sea a menacing presence, and the town mainly populated, in the winter season with tourists long gone, by a disturbing and depraved group of tramps And the story is told in a rather opaque style, with speech mark less and unattributed direct speech mixed in with stream of consciousness brooding as well as conventional descriptions of, at times almost farcical, action, and with prose that switches from the grubby to the lyrical and back again A strikingly lyrical piece reads You castle bound, spying on princesses, honey gold, singing against the blue, if touched surely their skin would ooze Aware of own smell, skin texture, sun in eyes, lips, toes, the softness underneath, in between, wondering what miracle made you, the sky, the sea Conscious of sound, gulls hovering, crying, or silent at rarer intervals, their swift turns before being swallowed by the waves Then no sound, all suddenly would be soundless, treading softly, dividing rocks with fins, and sword fish fingers plucking away clothes, that were left with your anatomy, huddled like ruffled birds waiting A chrysalis heart formed on the water s surface, away from the hard polished pebbles, sand blowing and elongated shadows Away, faster than air itself, dragon whirled. Berg s back story is gradually inferred from the reader by snatches of correspondence from Berg s mother, still seemingly in love with her errant and long absent husband and with whom Berg the son has a rather devoted but troubling relationship, adding to the Oedipal undertones Alistair Berg, alias Greb, commercial traveller, seller of wigs, hair tonic, paranoiac paramour, do you plead guilty Yes Guilty of all things the human condition brings guilty of being too committed guilty of defending myself of defrauding others guilty of love loving too much, or not enough guilty of parochial actions, of universal wish fulfilments of conscious martyrdom of unconscious masochism Idle hours, fingers that meddle Alistair Charles Humphrey Greb, alias Berg, you are condemned to life imprisonment until such time you may prove yourself worthy of death.The novel was consciously influenced by the French structuralists and while one rather snarky review in the NYRB stated this would have been avant garde in 1922 , I was struck by how different it felt, particularly for an English language novel, an ideal Goldsmiths Prize candidate had the prize then existed, and it was no surprise to find that this year s judge Deborah Levy nominated it as her Fantasy Goldsmiths Prize winner from the past Quin was an avant garde British writer, working class, art school Berg was the novel in which Quin put to work, in a very British way, her homage to the Nouveau Roman novelists she admired with the bonus of humour and a ventriloquist s dummy that comes to a sticky end Berg exported its oedipal themes and new literary grammar to seedy 60s Brighton in a vision that Hitchcock would have relished times the novel feels a little too self consciously experimental, and, when Quin switches to the lyrical of her registers, somewhat artificial But a vivid, intense and disturbing work, one that lingers after the page has been turned and one worthy of the re attention Quin s novels are now receiving 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

  4. says:

    Ann Quin was a talented and ambitious writer, and this debut abounds in excellent sentences when unmoored from the waffle of interior monologue or ridiculous dialogue , using various shifts in narrative position to create a palpable sense of desperation, farce, and bad blood Like her compatriot B.S Johnson, Quin is interested in black humour and showing human beings stripped of their pomp and defences, and somewhat revels in her dark worlds, even at their most OTT or mordant The constant shifts from fixed narrator to internal monologue to varying narrator POVs to letters from Mumsie keeps the reader on her toes, however the plot itself is not so intriguing to prevent this reader sinking into an amused torpor and straining on to the climax where the novel assumes an elegiac and oddly moving shade.

  5. says:

    Let s do a little thought experiment Nothing fancy, just a quick one Imagine if Samuel Beckett decided he was going to rewrite Hamlet However, imagine that he decided to rewrite Hamlet without tipping his hand that he was rewriting Hamlet So that means no usurpers on the throne, no speeches in the graveyard, no ghosts, none of that Instead, imagine that he took the two things that make Hamlet Hamlet, his indecisiveness and his much discussed Oedipal issues, and made those the number one and number two factors of his rewrite.Berg s setup is simple, stated right there on the first page our eponymous hero changes his name to Greb and sets out to kill his father That s about where the simple stuff ends, though The reasons why Berg reverses his name are never explained, and Quin only offers hints as to why Greb gets into the patricide thing The reader has to ferret a lot out of a book full of dense symbolism I have yet to work out the mannequin, the parrot strange events like Berg s father coming onto him, and an odd prose style that s not quite eloquent, not quite beautiful, but certainly worth your while.This is one of those books that sort of spits in the face of literary interpretation, or at least that s my opinion, offering a bunch of paths that may or may not actually lead anywhere Even the full extent of the Berg as Hamlet idea hasn t quite kicked in for me yet, so maybe I m reviewing this a little prematurely I imagine a book this strange will stick with me, though Recommended for anyone who s into outre fiction Dalkey Archive does a real stand up job.

  6. says:

    3.5 Quin s first novel is a bit of a squirm inducing affair Reading it was like going to a low key party where you don t particularly like any of the attendees but they re all mildly interesting enough that you decide to stick around, because, after all, you don t have anything better to do and you ve been to some other pretty good parties in this section of town where you re almost certain you ve seen some of these same people in attendance After a few drinks you start chatting up the host and find that despite your initial doubts he s oddly fascinating in an oblique kind of way During the conversation he tends to wander off in his responses to your questions, instead speaking about himself in a vague and often unsettling manner, which over the course of the conversation comes to have a hypnotic effect on you, resulting in brief fugue states punctuated by moments of acute consciousness in which you find the host staring directly into your eyes, as if waiting calmly yet intently for your response to a question he has just posed The disorienting nature of this dialogue eventually forces you to make up some excuse, need to refill your drink or whatever, so sorry, nice chatting with you, after which you go off and mingle with the other weirdos, except that you keep sensing the host behind you, or at least looking at you from across the room, somehow, from somewhere, retaining and attempting to enforce that tenuous connection the two of you had made during that recent bizarre exchange Finally, discerning the waning state of the party, and never having been a fan of parties in their latter stages, or even parties in general for that matter, you edge toward the door and you ve just about made it across the threshold when, wait, wait, he says, just wait a minute, let me show you out, the host ushers you through the doorway, outside into the cold damp sea air where he immediately proceeds to reengage you on some arbitrary to you point that he had been on the brink of making when, so sorry, you had broken off the conversation in order to get a drink was it Well, it s not important, except what he had to say apparently was and you can sort of see why when you approach it from a certain angle, after all it is somewhat of a universal story he s trying to tell you, at least you think so, despite how he s gone about it, the reluctance to be too forthright and all, but still feeling the need to repeat parts of what he s trying to tell you, which does make you feel sad and a bit lonesome, not enough to want to go back inside with those people, but maybe enough to pat the host on the back with genuine feeling as you gently explain that now you really must be going and it was a pleasure to finally meet him, after having heard so much about him And as the gate squeaks shut then, and you set off down the furrowed dirt lane you do feel compelled to turn around and as you turn you see him, the host, still standing out front on the porch, now looking out toward the sea, his back to you and yet you feel like somehow he knew you turned back and wanted you to see him looking out to sea, alone outside his home, which is full of people he doesn t even like, and which he now has to return to and pretend to like until whenever they decide the party is over and leave.

  7. says:

    In a miserable out of season seaside resort, Alistair Berg is planning to kill his estranged alcoholic father whilst taking a fancy to his dad s new fake fur consort So we have vaguely oedipal goings on all communicated in Ann Quin s slightly demented yet often effective prose but with a narrative demoted from tragedy to farce, and characters demoted from archetypes to stereotypes It doesn t really work Even black humour requires comic timing, but Ann Quin spurns such niceties So although the novel has all the ingredients of low farce mistaken identities, doors continually opening and closing, a ventriloquist s dummy, cross dressing, a stuffed budgie, hiding in wardrobes they are poor naked things, shorn of any humour And too much of the novel is taken up in pursuit of this farcical narrative complete with dead on its feet, end of the pier dialogue Now now Aly, oh you are naughty really you are. and rapidly becomes a bit tedious It may well be that this was Ann Quin s bleak vision life is an unfunny pantomime peopled by lifeless stereotypes in dreary surroundings But, if true, it s not much of a recipe for an interesting novel Liked the writing, pity about the content.

  8. says:

    This instantly became one of my favorite books after I finished reading and then rereading it Ann Quin Criminally underrated or simply unknown British author of four short novels, Berg being the first of them, was a schizophrenic who took her own life in 1973 by, like Viriginia Woolf before her, walking out into the sea and never returning In Berg, we are meticulously drawn a picture of life in a seaside resort town to which our anti hero Berg whose name, as we are told in the almost famous, or should be famous, first line of the novel, has been changed to Greb has come to kill his absentee father The thing is, Mr Greb is in fact a mirror image of the man in many ways, and ends up sleeping with and eventually shacking up with the father s mistress, not to mention that he seems to be unhealthily attached to his mother, who writes him seemingly innocent letters that, at times, sound very passive aggressive indeed Freud with a headache says Library Journal, rightly, I think The atmosphere of this novel, and the fact that Berg a.k.a Greb is a salesman of hair tonic, reminded me a lot of Alain Robbe Grillet s The Voyeur in that novel the protagonist, Mathias, is a watch salesman too, he comes to a town on the water for murder In fact, the novel is often compared to work by Nathalie Sarraute also Alexander Trocchi, though compared to, say, Young Adam, which I read shortly after reading this, the language is dense, the style experimental.In any case, this novel will not appeal to everyone While the storyline sounds as though it could be depicted as or less a realistic one, the novel is not written in a realistic style, and some of the events that occur I m thinking in particular especially of one involving Berg Sr s ventriloquist dummy, though I don t want to give the scene away seem highly unlikely unless one buys into the fact that a this is of an allegorical novel than it is a realistic one, one that plays with genre detective, vaudeville, etc., and b that the narrator is or is going insane Though most of the narrative is written in third person, the camera s eye stays firmly fixed on the younger Berg for the most part except when we get fragments of his mother s letters and even occasionally drifts into first person for a few sentences here and there, without warning, before shifting back into third person another technique often used by the aforementioned A R G., though Quin had apparently not read the nouveau roman writers before creating her Berg, a fact that just goes to show that writers of all stripes and nationalities may arrive at similar places on their own, i.e without necessarily being directly influenced by someone else s aesthetic In the introduction to the Dalkey edition, Giles Gordon quotes Quin as having said, Form interests me, and the merging of content and form I want to get away from the traditional form and here she certainly has, eventually earning her a reputation as a difficult writer But, of her four short novels, Berg is the one that is considered the most straightforward I have, to date, only read this and her second novel, Three, the latter being much prose poem like than Berg, much less coherent in some ways, though still very good Though I look forward to reading the latter two novels Passages and Tripticks I have a feeling, from what I have read about them, that Berg will remain my favorite of the lot I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes experimental writing that engages with genre tropes in an intelligent and, ultimately, entertaining way Not a word of text here is wasted, and if one does not read closely, carefully, one will miss a whole lot But it is a short book, short enough to allow for such close reading, as well as for second, even third readings I have a feeling that, when I eventually return to this book a few months or years down the road, and pick it up again, I will once again be swept up in its darkly humorous world of Oedipal triangles Quin was obsessed with the number three , ventriloquist dummies, wandering vagrants, voluptuous women, and going insane murderous protagonists Again, this book may not be for everyone, but then neither is most anything really worth reading in my experience Don t miss out on Ann Quin s Berg.

  9. says:

    Incredibly modern novel, written in 1964 It begins A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father How can you not read such a book Another blurb A marvellously warped book NYT Sadly, the author drowned herself at the age of 37.

  10. says:

    I had high hopes for Berg Ann Quin was born in Brighton, England in 1936 and died there in 1973 having swum out to sea one morning never to return Quin was her first book and it s set in Brighton As a Brightonian I am automatically attracted to books set here Between Saturday 22nd November 2014 and Friday 19th December 2014, here in Brighton, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Berg s publication, artist production designer Anna Deamer has created a film set installation for an imaginary screen version of Berg with sound by musician and composer Barry Adamson I loved Anna Deamer s Hangover Square installation from 2012 I decided to read Berg before attending the exhibition Now I ve finished I ll be going in the next few days.The book opens with the marvellous line A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father however what follows never matches that attention grabbing start An Oedipal plot centres around a romantic triangle between Berg Greb, his father, and the father s mistress Judith Various voices meld together, Berg Greb s internal monologues, his mother s via letters and recollections, his landlady, Judith s and his father s What is fantasy and what is reality Quin seeks to wrong foot the reader At the time of publication this would have been perceived as bold and experimental To me it felt distracting, distancing and quite confusing Overall it s atmospheric, well written, and, in parts, interesting but also frustrating and confusing 3 5

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