Great Reading: Spider by Patrick McGrath

My book of this month, bloody amazing I finish this in just a few days but finished last month not this one! I couldn’t stop reading it with almost everything else having to wait, I don’t normally get that wrapped up in a novel. So I’ll now have another go at writing a post here about novel because some reader seem to enjoy me rabbiting, hopping on about books I’ve read!

Who or which novel has the most unreliable narrator ever you’ve read? Well, I can’t think of one better or should that be worst than Spider or Dennis Cleg? The main character of this book is a schizophrenic and the whole thing is told from inside his head. Reading some other reviews of this novel after I finish some readers seem to find it too gloomy, even so bleak they couldn’t finish and parts of it not making any sense at all. I don’t know what these people reading it wanted from this book because it’s pretty clear from even looking at the back of the book it’s not just a easy read and is not going to be a sweet little cake walk of a read. People with schizophrenia do only on avenge live half the age of life than others without it, it’s pretty hard going to say the least. I can’t imaged what it would be like but McGrath must have come pretty close?

First published in 1990 but my intro to the novel was via the movie of the same name, which did watch again after finishing the book. I buy this novel after seeing it at the cinema the same day, the bookshop just down the road and it’s sat in a pile of unread books for that long!

That’s the trailer above, director by David Cronenberg, screenplay by Patrick McGrath based on his novel and stars: Ralph Fiennes as Spider. I don’t think it got to Australia until 2003 but that’s still a longtime. I do love both Cronenberg and Fiennes which both made one of a hell of a good even great film back then, how they worked it into a movie was most likely the best way to do it. The novel is just one of the best and biggest motherfucker I’ve ever read and comparing the two would be a big mistake, I think?

What can I say about this novel now and not give it all away? First page we are told he just moved into a half-way house, then by the second page he’s keeping a journal to write out the events of his childhood but pretty much immediately we find out about “the people in the attic” who keep him awake all night. Opening lines he tell the reader he remembers his “boyhood with clarity and precision, and yet events that happened yesterday are blurred” so it goes from there. By page 13 we are told today date as October 17th 1957 but he don’t intros himself by name until page 20, he lived in Canada for years before coming home to England, needs another smoke, the shell of gas is getting worst, his inside guts are giving him trouble again, the “dead souls” who also live there just sit around drooling all day so he’s going out for a walk etc. So it jumps around like that but in much more fine detail than that I’ve wrote it down here in my blog post but sometimes more chaotic than other times. It’s almost non-stop monologue of his until some dialogue from someone else interrupts him, to almost jarring effect by those points but the outside world does exist your reminded. It all revolves around “the tragedy that befell my family twenty years ago” which is on that line is on the opening page too so you could say it’s almost, kind-of like a who done it? From the very start but your not getting any help from who’s telling this story really, you know?

My copy looks like this but it’s green not grey and the writing on the cover is all gold minus the title which is in white. I can’t find the green and gold cover anywhere online but I’m not uploading it myself!

I’m saying it’s five out of five or ten out of ten book again! What about you? Have you read it too? Or just seen the movie? Both?

BTW because this is a music blog I’ve tell anyone, everyone who looking at this post that I’ve updated all my 1990’s playlist posts too! So it’s now 1999, 1998, 1997 with 70 songs and the 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990 are all now 85 tracks! Just giving heads to whoever wants some music not books or something?

Cheers 🙂


  1. Love an updated playlist by William! So much great music in the 90s! Also, I want to start reading this book, it does sound very interesting. Maybe a Sunday read this weekend? Cheers, and thanks for updating the playlists! =)

    Liked by 1 person

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