The Restraint of Beasts: reissued


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Donald had removed the light-shade from the ceiling and replaced the usual hundred watt bulb with a more powerful one. This bathed every corner of the office in sharp light. Slowly and deliberately he settled in his chair for a few moments regarding Tam and Richie across the desk. And what is fencing except physical constraint? We go through a steady process of tightening, and it is all to no end, or rather constraint and restraining others is an end in itself. The bare offices bespeak no ambition beyond holding the beasts in restraint.

Do you live to work, or work to live? If you labour to obtain coin of the realm to spend on the drink that refreshes and inebriates then you alone might be immune to the madness of demarcation that lopes through the pages with lolling tongue. Narratively the style is fairly flat, occasionally my feeling was that the first person narrator - a newly appointed fencing foreman, an Englishman amongst Scots, was withholding information.

The vocabulary is constrained, the voice consistent. Curiosity tells me that reading more of Mills novels would give me a feel for if he achieved something distinctive or if this is his natural narrative register.

But this is not just a book about fencing, hungry as the world's readers are for chain-link and feather edged panels. It is also funny. And when not funny then mildly surreal, but then when you come down to it fencing is a bit odd. View all 12 comments. Here is a deadpan black comedy about three fencing contractors whose preference in life would be drinking pints of beer in a pub for 9 hours a day and working for 4 hours a day instead of the other way round.

I did not lol, as they say, and indeed my own pan was dead throughout the reading of this novel, but inwardly where it counts I was smiling madly and guffawing gently. There might be Here is a deadpan black comedy about three fencing contractors whose preference in life would be drinking pints of beer in a pub for 9 hours a day and working for 4 hours a day instead of the other way round.

Mar 09, Anni rated it it was amazing. Magnus Mills has a style unlike any other author I know. His deadpan narratives creep up on you so stealthily you are hypnotised into surrendering your disbelief to whatever bonkers twist and turn the story takes. This is his best. Feb 05, Evelyn Rose rated it really liked it.

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Who exactly are the beasts, we hear ourselves asking; who is restraining whom? These existential questions build at a creeping pace, gaining in magnitude with every newly erected fence. The opening sequence of The Restraint of Beasts plunges us into mundanity, governed by dialogue rather than description, and written in a terse, dry tone that only heightens the monotony. A fence needs redoing, we learn, and the work is pretty boring stuff, where characters Tam, Richie, and our unnamed narrator, labour under the watchful eye of Mr McCrindle.

As our narrator tells it: Any distant observer of this scene would have probably assumed that the three figures standing by the new fence were in deep conversation about something. In fact, there were only two participants in the conversation. We work tedious jobs, Mills seems to be saying, we squander meagre pay, and then we die an ironically banal death.

The Restraint of Beasts

We realise that the torturous repetition is appeased, albeit temporarily, by trips to the pub, where smoking, drinking, and sexual encounters become commonplace. However, these moments of escape create a warped cycle of punishment and reward; in reality, freedom is never an option. His characters too, adopt the everyday man persona that we see manifest in All Quiet on the Orient Express, and to our delight, themes in the latter appear to persist. This is indicative of later chapters, as Mills layers dream like events with the ever-constant grind of the capitalist machine.

Perhaps, in the end, it is the imagination with its bizarre and comic twists, which provide our narrator with the power of both liberation and restraint. May 04, Steven rated it it was amazing Shelves: I loved this one. Set in Scotland with trips to England , but don't expect any descriptions of the places. This book is virtually all action and dialogue, which makes it an interesting study in technique. The humor is dry, black, and if you like that kind of humor, the novel is comic. If you don't like that kind of humor you'll spend the whole time wondering what in the hell is going on.

And what exactly happened in the book is the real mystery. The book is an extended metaphor I loved this one. The book is an extended metaphor for something, and that part of the pleasure of reading it is figuring out what that metaphor is. In that sense the book might be too clever, but it is a quick read, and the writing is brilliant within its stylistic limitations.

Jan 13, Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it Shelves: Insomnia read -- and boy, was I surprised. More soon, but the darkness in this very short book sneaks up on you because part of the time you're laughing. But it's there, all the same. Jan 29, Garland Fielder rated it it was amazing.


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This book sneaks up on you, like a quiet acquaintance you've known for years and has only shown you the slightest signs of being off. Then one day, you realize your dealing with something else entirely Mill's humor seeps into the prose like a rising tide, carrying all rational defenses against the absurdity of banal existence with it.

In all honesty, a remarkable read. Mar 23, Soumen Daschoudhury rated it liked it Shelves: The restraint of who? But where are the beasts? Donald is a fastidious boss. So, they drive, smoke, rest, have tea, sleep, work, visit the local pub, look for women, have beer, get drunk, sleep. And again, and again.

They need to be prodded, instigated, Tam and Ritchie, for them to be out of their beds and do some work. If not, they would rather have beer and sleep all day, and night of course. Oh, but the client is accidentally killed. So they move on to the next assignment. They drive, smoke, rest, have tea, sleep, work, visit the local pub, look for women, have beer, get drunk, sleep. Oh, but the client is accidentally killed, and buried, yet again. And then they move on to the next assignment I surprised myself by not getting bored with the ludicrously trite routine of the characters; rather enjoyed their idiosyncrasies.

The author, Magnus Mills has subtly and metaphorically drawn the need to restrain the two legged creature as much as is deemed necessary for the four legged ones between and Magnus Mills built high-tensile fences for a living, an experience he drew upon for this novel. The need to be tamed, disciplined, berated, to move, to be motivated to move to greener pastures is felt needed by both; the safety in confines is the disposition of both. Maybe, that explains the dead-pan humour discovered this phrase when reading about the author in the cold accidental killings of the clients.

Was it sorrowful — no, was it deliberate — no, did it evoke reproach — no, was it funny — no, why should it? Was it forgotten — easily! An introvert would feel as free in a crowded party as would a garrulous person on a marooned island. We are tethered by the invisible shackles of our thoughts and imposed values and we roam around feeling free only till we feel the tug of the chain, and then we saunter back to our safer grounds. We are herded into the influential lives that we live; only few choose to, resolve to break free and live in the wilderness.

View all 4 comments. May 07, Tim Chaplin rated it it was amazing. Who would have thought that the construction of high tensile fencing could be so funny? At first I thought I wouldn't like this book but as the story develops then I found myself liking the gang of three workers. Tam and Richie go South to England with their long suffering English foreman after their misadventures in Scotland. Their foreman has to 'sub' them when they run out of beer money or break tools, often out of his own money to keep them motivated.

The three men live in a caravan, living o Who would have thought that the construction of high tensile fencing could be so funny? The three men live in a caravan, living on baked beans, and going to the pub after hammering fence posts all day long. Things get more complicated when they get involved with a rival firm of Fencers; the 'Hall Brothers'. This is a hilarious tale and this reminds me of Withnail and I - in fact it would make a great film albeit with a disturbing ending.

A right riveting read. Apr 26, Lou Robinson rated it really liked it. My boss lent me "The Restraint of Beasts", saying I'd either love it or think it was overhyped. It was a love it. Not a lot really happens in terms of a story. There are no character introductions, the book launches straight into the present. And leaves you hanging at the end too. But it made me laugh out loud several times. It's black black humour, my sort of humour.

I'd be keen to read more Magnus Mills! Aug 12, Kevin McMahon rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this book right up until the abruptness of the end.


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However I then spent 10 minutes thinking about it and realised that there was more to this than just a story about 2 lazy Scots and an unnamed English foreman. The whole book is a metaphor for the often dreary and repetitive lives we lead and the futility of some of the tasks we do. Without spoiling the plot even life has little value and given little consideration.

I think my disappointment comes from the fact that I had imagined a nu I enjoyed this book right up until the abruptness of the end. I think my disappointment comes from the fact that I had imagined a number of conclusions to the story and was looking forward to seeing if any off my ideas played out. These included the Halls being Napoleon, Snowball etc from Animal Farm, fencers being turned into sausages and corralled in 7 foot high electrified pens. So in conclusion I enjoyed this book and my disappointment is now less so. It is important that you read this not as a story about 3 fencers and their humdrum lives expecting a straightforward denouement but rather you consider the deeper metaphor.

Don't, like me, read this to quick! Aug 17, Georg rated it it was amazing Shelves: I like novels with characters who actually work as most of us do.

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Have you ever seen a character of novels by Salinger, Updike, Roth or the classics Flaubert, the Brontes, Dostojewski and Tolstoj work as in sell their time, energy and health for money? Mills goes the other way round. But on the other hand I am not sure if they really do what they seem to do. Maybe Mr Hall is not the customer, but God or the Devil. Maybe the factory is not a factory but a concentration camp.

Maybe Morag is not a waitress but an angel. Maybe I hear voices, see traps where there are none and look for a story Magnus Mills did not write. Many maybes and that only proves that Mills has outsmarted me once more. Nov 28, Chasquis rated it really liked it.

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Well now, this brought back some memories. Either Marcus Mills has been living inside my head for the last 40 years that's a bit of an ego trip, make it 30 or he has been interviewing everybody I have ever worked with in landscaping, fencing and general garden maintenance OR he just has travelled the same roads, only in a later century of his very own. It's uncanny, a bit like Bluetooth when it works or people parking in the driveway and just sitting there talking on the phone.

In the 70's, Well now, this brought back some memories. In the 70's, we assumed telepathy was possible, now we have smart phones and wifi and all that jazz. Novels do not solve problems but they do make you think. This one made me think: Nov 11, GoldGato rated it really liked it Shelves: Oh, what a dark comedy read was this. I think I can even still hear the pounding of the fences being driven into the ground by the loafers who take pride in their lack of ambition. Of course, this book isn't about fence-building, but it's not about employment either.

It's not about Scotland either. Everything builds very slowly, and I, being the fool that I am, stayed right in step, believing the author was moving down one path, when he was taking me elsewhere. By the time I realized what Oh, what a dark comedy read was this. By the time I realized what was happening, it was just too late to retreat. The nice folks in the nice town of Portland recommended this one to me Nov 06, Burymeinsmoke rated it it was amazing. Probably my all-time favourite novel about erecting high-tension fencing.

This is the book that got me back into reading. Indeed, if you're in a reading wilderness, or tired of your preffered genre as I was with SF try a bit of Mills. By turns hilarious, dark as pitch and as terrifying as old Stephen King; the word 'sinister' applies here, but is so subtly woven into the narrative it creeps up on you like a sneak-thief.

To mention the plot may repell potential readers as it concerns a gang o Probably my all-time favourite novel about erecting high-tension fencing. To mention the plot may repell potential readers as it concerns a gang of labourers, fence-posts and That said, Mills' efficient prose lends the banality of the setting an ominous air which enshrouds the reader into his very normal, very twisted world.

I cannot put my finger on what did this book so fun. It is a very dark comedy, with surprising and some times ridiculous moments in the good sense. The hard work-skipping characters, with such lack of ambition, sounded deeply realistic under the exaggerated surface. Tam and Richie, good Scots lads at heart who have The Restraint of Beasts. The Restraint of Beasts:

The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued
The Restraint of Beasts: reissued The Restraint of Beasts: reissued

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