The Night Porter by Mark Barry @GreenWizard62 #Bookreview

The Night PorterThe Night Porter by Mark Barry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Night Porter is a modern contemporary piece of art. November, England and the prestigious Arkwright Book Awards are just around the corner. A golden award for Best Writer is the ultimate prize along with it’s cash reward, and receiving an “Alf” is the book equivalent of the Grammys.

Organisers of the ceremony have taken over all the local hotels and this story is based around 4 authors they have booked into The Saladin Inn. During their stay nothing is too much, their every whim must be catered for and everything is paid for by the Arkwright group.

Amy is a best selling romance novelist, Frank a thriller writer, Jo a YA/NA fiction writer and Julian the outsider, a self-published e-book writer of contemporary fiction. Each with their own characteristics, it’s Julian who causes trouble. He is argumentative and rants about the other authors. Amy says he has a chip on his shoulder because he hasn’t been through and survived the ritual of selection that traditionally “published” authors have gone through.

The story is told by The Night Porter of the Saladin, the one who listens late at night to those wanting to talk, he tends to their late night needs and is professional to the end. He’s there when a shocking event occurs and he’s there at the final awards as a guest.

There are plenty of twists and turns and the musings of the Night Porter in detailed foot notes to the text make an extra layer to the book. (footnotes are only in the paperback version)

For my own personal reading experience the footnotes were a distraction and slowed down my read, but I can see them being entertaining, you almost need to read the book twice, once without the footnotes and then with, to get the most from the book. They are a clever style which puts Mark Barry “out there” as an artistic writer.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT E.L. Reviews The Night Porter by Mark Barry

Today we have a review from team member E.L Lindley she blogs at http://lindleyreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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E.L chose to read and review The Night Porter by Mark Barry

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My only concern with Mark Barry’s wickedly clever book, The Night Porter, is that I may not be able to fully do it justice in my review. It really is a joy to read and a novel that operates on many different levels.

Superficially it can be enjoyed as an observational take on life in a high-end hotel, as narrated to us by the night porter. It focuses in particular on a short period of time leading up to the Arkwright literary awards, in which the hotel will play a pivotal role, not least because it will become temporary home to four of the writers. The novel develops into something of a mystery as one of the writers is attacked in his room and left for dead.

Barry’s tour de force is about so much more than this though. Throughout the novel, Barry skilfully affords us a playful metaphorical nod to the art of writing and never lets us forget that he is in fact constructing a story. He deftly raises the question of what it means to be a writer and whether one form of writing is any more valid than another. Barry uses the character of Julian Green, an acclaimed indie writer who despises the more commercial writers, to represent the ‘literary’ school of writing. There is the constant reference to the “paradox” within writing, whereby what is popular and successful is not necessarily ‘good literature’.

Barry’s exploration of writing as a craft is made even more effective by his own brave experimentation with the novel form. Julian makes the comment that, to be successful, “footnotes and fancy titles” should be avoided and yet, ironically, Barry makes excellent use of both these devices. They lend the novel both a dry sense of humour and, in the case of the footnotes, a deeper glimpse into the mind of the night porter.

The heart of the novel is of course the eponymous night porter. He is a complex and at times devious character, who captivates the reader with his gloriously prissy and yet sincere account of his life in the hotel. The night porter is a man defined by his job, hence his anonymous status, and in the beginning it would seem he is nothing without it. He subsumes his own identity to the needs of the job and we get the idea of him being like an iceberg, with only ten percent of who he is on show to the public. He seems to have no close friends outside of the hotel and reveals that he has been celibate for six years.

The night porter prides himself on his isolationist stance as a “lone wolf” but, as he becomes more and more infatuated with the writers, we begin to question the impartiality of his view point. He is smitten by the romance writer Amy Cook and hates the “sociable nazi” Martin Sixsmith, who is the bar manager and his nemesis. The night porter may be the “all-seeing eye” of the novel but Barry never lets us forget that he is a human being with all of the flaws and prejudices that are part and parcel of that.

The novel ends in a froth of fun when, like a magician Barry pulls aside the curtain, affording the reader a tiny peek at the mechanisms behind crafting a story. The Night Porter is, without a doubt, indie writing at its best. It is an intelligent, funny and most of all engaging novel and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Emily reviews The Night Porter by Mark Barry

Today we have a review from team member Emily, she blogs at http://lifebetweenbookends.tumblr.com/

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Emily chose to read and review The Night Porter by Mark Barry

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The Night Porter is comedic, dramatic and most of all incredibly entertaining. We are introduced to ‘The Night Porter’ who is a hardworking man so completely devoted to his job, he is only referred to by his title and above all he values his crucial dedication to the smooth running of The Saladin Inn.
When the Arkwright Literary Awards decide to pay for 4 of their shortlisted authors, Amy, Jo, Frank and Julian, to stay in The Saladin for two weeks, it is the Night Porters duty to ensure their every need is met. Though his charm and small talk welcomes the guests graciously, no amount of polite smiles could lower tensions between the authors themselves. We witness the Night Porter falter in his professionalism as he experiences attraction towards guests, an obvious disliking towards a colleague and inconspicuously tries to unearth the past cause of Amy and Julian’s blatant hatred towards each other.
As the awards loom and nerves rise, a sudden tragedy befalls one of the authors and the carefully organised awards night seems to be crumbling into pieces. We follow the Night Porter as he struggles to do what he usually does best- maintain order.
Mark Barry has managed to not only blend laughter and suspense so well into one story but also creates vivid characters and enthralling dilemmas. This book lacks nothing but it’s own literary award and overall was a delightful read.
Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com