OK, Mr Field ➸ [Read] ➳ OK, Mr Field By Katharine Kilalea ➽ – Thomashillier.co.uk Shortlisted for the London Magazine and Collyer Bristow Debut Fiction Prize 2019Mr Field a concert pianist travelling back from a performance in London suffers a fractured wrist in a train crash On a Shortlisted for the London Magazine and Collyer Bristow Debut Fiction Prize Mr Field a concert pianist travelling back from a performance in London suffers a fractured wrist in a train crash On a whim he uses his compensation money to buy a house he has seen in a newspaper a replica of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye on the coast outside Cape Town But when Mr Field OK, Mr PDF/EPUB ² moves there with his wife Mim he finds that the house has a disturbing and unexpected effect Dwelling in the gaps within conversations and the distances between people OK Mr Field is a powerful story of obsession disintegration and loneliness.

About the Author: Katharine Kilalea

Katharine Kilalea grew up in South Africa and moved to London for an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia She has published a poetry collection One Eye'd Leigh which was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize She lives in London.

10 thoughts on “OK, Mr Field

  1. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    I tried Once twice I picked it up and read The third time I did something that I often do when I have trouble getting into a novel I read out loud While this did allow me to recognize how outstanding the prose was even this was not successful A man loses his whole way of life his ability to make music he buys a house and slowly starts to lose his connection to reality Slow is the operative word here plus when s book is as introspective as this one it is necessary for me at least to feel a connection with the character or the situation I felt nothing for either and so halfway finished I am laying the book down unrated Don't like assigning a rating to s book I have not finishedARC from Goodreads and Crown publishers

  2. Faith Faith says:

    Sorry to say I didn't enjoy this book Mr Field no first name is a pianist whose career is ended by an accident that permanently damages his wrist He uses the compensation he receives for the accident to buy a decrepit house in Cape Town The house is full of mosuitos and spiders the size of ping pong balls At some point after the move from London to the new house his wife Mim drives off never to be heard from again Since we learn nothing about Nim and don't even get a physical description of her it's hard to form an opinion of her leaving However my guess would be that it was because Mr Field is one of most boring people on the planet I thought of Mim but not often I missed her but in an ordinary way I didn't pine for her I didn't miss her in the way you're meant to miss someone you love Field doesn't try to find his wife find useful employment or do anything at all except sink into insanity He fixates on the elderly former owner of his house imagines conversations with her and eventually stalks her Then he gets a dog Poor dog This book is so dull and pointless that I expect that it will start winning awards because that's the way it seems to go with insufferable literature I finished the book only because it is very short I received a free copy of this book from the publisher

  3. Blair Blair says:

    In this novel the protagonist and narrator is only ever known as 'Mr Field' The namelessness is apt as the man never seems fully present or active in his own story He is a concert pianist who after a train accident which shatters his wrist uses his compensation to move – on an apparently random whim – from London to a house in Cape Town His new home known as the House for the Study of Water is a replica of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye built by the South African architect Jan Kallenbach Field is accompanied by his wife Mim but the little we see of her suggests she is unhappy there and feels disconnected from her life; eventually she departs Field meanwhile exists in a state of what might be described as detail orientated numbness He fixates on small and inconseuential things while the fabric of his life disintegrates Alongside the tale of Field's decline a number of subplots unspool There's a local man Curtis Touw who has a plan to build his own 'House in the Sky' – a tower enclosing a series of small modular homes – on the mountain behind Field's property There's Field's burgeoning obsession with Kallenbach's elderly ex wife whose voice he often hears in his head voicing his own thoughts There's the appearance of a stray dog named Schubert Like Le Corbusier Touw says a house is a machine for living in – but in his version of the uote it becomes 'a machine for living in together' Left alone Field begins to come apart Things were on the cusp of not being themselves I had the idea that it wasn't my vision deteriorating but the very glue which held the objects of the world together growing old and weak In his loneliness Field anthropomorphises animals objects even body parts He takes to driving aimlessly each evening and his wanderings lead him to spy on neighbours and ultimately to repeatedly revisit Hannah Kallenbach's home crystallising an obsession with both the woman and a particular room in her house which seems for him to represent an agonising sort of comfort Such contradictions are rife here Field's excursions do little to disturb the ambience of the textEven the fragments of conversation which filtered out from the houses were less the intense and meaningful private exchanges I'd imagined people who knew each other well would have when they were alone than repetitions of well worn phrases like Uh huh or Let's not argue about that overlaid – as in the rattle of film projectors accompanying old movies – by the tranuil even tempered beeps of fax machines and dishwashers finishing up their cyclesWhat has happened to Mim – has she left or disappeared? If the latter why isn't Field doing anything to find her? If the former why does it seem she has abandoned all her possessions at the house? And does this point us to a sinister conclusion about our narrator? After all Field himself says A person's absence always euates to death I always feel like South African novels have so much going on than meets the eye I was recently reading back over my notes on Eben Venter's Trencherman and was staggered by the sheer amount of layers a single reading pulled out of that book I felt similarly about OK Mr Field – it seethes with possible interpretations and no doubt there were many nuances I missed Is it intentional that Touw's design for his tower sounds a lot like a smaller version of Ponte City or am I just putting unrelated bits of South African knowledge together and making five? As the panopticon like Ponte and Touw's House in the Sky have their central void Field's home has its ramp visible from almost everywhere in the house Perhaps Field stands for the passive consumption enacted by a wealthy outsider who decides to make his home in a place with the troubled history of Cape Town Or perhaps that has nothing to do with anything and OK Mr Field is just 'just' a story about a man's emotional disintegration and the terrifying unpredictability of that stateIf I was to be critical of anything in the novel it wouldn't be its lack of willingness to provide explanations but that I was not always convinced by our narrator as a man; there was something slightly off about many of the references to his body and desires Strange as it may sound I would have preferred the narrative to give away even less about himWhat is OK Mr Field? Why is is OK Mr Field? Maybe these uestions aren't meant to be answered This is a story to be shelved alongside narratives of alienation and delusion such as Keith Ridgway's Animals Hugo Wilcken's The Execution and Paula Cocozza's How To Be Human It's not going to work for everyone but I loved Kilalea's fluid prose and appreciated the story's inscrutability I received an advance review copy of OK Mr Field from the publisher through NetGalleyTinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  4. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    35 Mr Field is a concert pianist whose left wrist was shattered in a train crash outside London With his career temporarily derailed there’s little for him to do apart from wander his Cape Town house a replica of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye Jan Kallenbach the South African architect who oversaw the building of his copy was killed in a shark attack After his partner Mim leaves him Mr Field spends his time walking the coastal path keeping an eye on the housing development going up on the empty plot by his home and driving to spy on the architect’s widow Hannah Kallenbach with whom he’s obsessed Prone to strange thinking and overly sensitive to sounds he’s an aimless voyeur who’s engaged with other people’s lives than with his own – until a dog follows him home from a graveyard and forces him to wake up to his circumstancesThis is a strangely detached little novel in which very little seems to happen and what does happen you have to uestion because of the narrator’s unreliability Like Asunder by Chloe Aridjis and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner it’s about someone who’s been coasting unfeelingly through life and has to stop to ask what’s gone wrong and what’s worth pursuing But it’s so brilliantly written with the pages flowing effortlessly on that I had to admire Kilalea’s skill Her descriptions of the scenery and of music are particularly good In terms of the style I was reminded of books I’ve read by Katie Kitamura and Henrietta Rose Innes Dialogue and thoughts are in italics an interesting half way house between having standard speech marks or none I picked up a proof copy at the Faber Spring PartyFavorite passages“I’d leave the car and make my way along the street studying the activities of Hannah Kallenbach’s neighbours I’d examine how nightly from between the large gold eagle topped gates of the house beside hers a red lipsticked woman would appear muttering This way This way This way to the long haired dachshund scuttling – so it appeared to me – like a windswept old wig along the pavement behind her”“How could I explain the nature of my problem when I was such a stranger to myself? How could I possibly grasp what was going on inside me when the inside of my body was hidden from me walled in by my skin? what kinds of things are worth investing one’s time and feelings in?”

  5. Dawnny Dawnny says:

    Mr Field is a concert pianist from London When he shatters his wrist in a train accident he becomes unhinged He becomes obsessed with a house designed to look like LeCorbusier's Villa Savoye Cutting himself off from everything His wife leaves him and he becomes even lost in his own thoughts Thoughts of other people and his surroundings It takes a minute to get into this but once I did I liked the strange narrative Remarkable and very oddThank YouPenguin Tim Duggin BooksDawnBookGypsyNovels N LatteBook Blog

  6. Paul Fulcher Paul Fulcher says:

    It seemed likely that as in a story whose seuence of events is always forward moving my visits would either progress to some climax or conclusion or that I losing interest would give up or move on And yet the story of my time with Hannah Kallenbach because it was a story and it was about time was impervious to the passing of time Nothing happened I came to this 2018 novel by Katharine Kilalea a first novel from a South African poet via the brilliant book of essays on writing Between the Word and the World by Anna MacDonald published by Splice my review ’s take can also be found at first person narrator of the novel presumably the eponymous Mr Field a pianist is travelling back from an unsuccessful concert in London where he performed Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude when he is involved in a train accident shattering his wrist and it is implied halting his career He uses his compensation payment to buy or rent? a house in South Africa a reproduction of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye The house was one of three Villa Savoye doppelgängers there was the “shadow” version in Canberra which was an exact copy but painted black; the “mini” Villa Savoye in Boston in which every aspect of the original house had been shrunk by 10 percent to fit the client’s budget; and my house the House for the Study of Water which replicated Le Corbusier’s house in all aspects apart from its location since whereas the original Villa Savoye overlooked the rural French landscape the one in Cape Town overlooked the sea Everything I knew about Le Corbusier came from a South African academic who like a number of so called architourists had turned up at the house one day as though it were a museum rather than a private residence She wore a kaftan and jangly bracelets and was writing a book she told me on Le Corbusier and the third world The architect who’d designed the House for the Study of Water Jan Kallenbach had met Le Corbusier during a tour which he and several other architecture students had made of European ¬architecture They’d turned up at Le Corbusier’s apartment one day she said and the old architect had invited them in and said Okay she mimicked his French accent so now I will teach you the sisteme The sisteme entailed a number of rules which Le Corbusier applied to all buildings regardless of their size or use like that all buildings should have moveable walls a roof terrace horizontal windows and be raised off the ground on stilts The architecture students—later known as the Johannesburg Group—published articles on Le Corbusier’s sisteme in the local journal South Africa Architectural Record and applied it to the design of a number of new houses built mostly for German Jewish immigrants who’d developed a taste for modernism before the war With their glass walls and external staircases these houses typified what became known as the Johannesburg style The point about the houses she said—this must have been important because she repeated it several times—is that they were “à la Corbu” but not just meaningless copies They took his system and synthesized it in a new way Whereas Kallenbach apparently had been so seduced by the Master as he’d called him that he believed the practice of architecture post–Le Corbusier could offer nothing than to replicate his buildings verbatim We were standing at the strip of windows in the living room looking at the sea That’s why he was ostracized from the inner circle she said Then her voice trailed off and she turned away from the window I feel ueasy she said the way these windows cut off the ground makes me feel seasick And for a moment she did look pale but then laughing went on Maybe that’s the reason Kallenbach’s wife left him Because living here was like living on a raft It’s true the windows did give one an odd perspective of the world I’d often thought it perverse that a house overlooking the sea should have windows so narrow that they hid all but a sliver of it It was a restrictive view almost punitively so so frustratingly partial that it seemed a kind of tease Though the sense of something withheld—the sea was there of course you just couldn’t see it—was not entirely unpleasantAlthough the narrator’s wife Mim moves to the country with him soon after the novel opens she disappears from the scene presumably having left him although Mr Field seems remarkably incurious as to what has happened other than feeling her absence When attempting to play the Chopin piece once his injured left hand now no longer as responsive as his right he observes A relationship unfolding between two hands which were the two characters one expressive the other inexcitable who’d once been together but were now detached This is far from a conventional plot driven novel As Mr Field notes of himself I'd never liked crosswords or any kind of word games It was a musician's sensibility perhaps which made me pay attention to the sounds of words than to their meanings I couldn't even read a novel since before long I'd always find myself in the middle of a sentence or a paragraph with no idea of where I was or what had come before Tracing a plot or following a cast of characters reuired a mental gymnastics my mind seemed incapable of The Irish Times take on his style of narration expresses it well although Mr Field lacks the misanthropy of some Bernhard narrators Field himself has been compared by early reviewers to a Beckett character but he might have in common with the creations of Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard These tend to be deeply cultured perfectionists who keep circling back in their minds and in the movement of their sentences to a single obsession or plangent regret In Ok Mr Field a Berhardian air of repetition works nicely a dullness of narration which is also beautiful and perfectly intentionalLiving on his own he develops an odd obsession with the architect’s estranged wife Hannah Kallenbach who he met only once when she handed over the keys to the house carrying on an imaginary dialogue with her in his mind said Hannah Kallenbach whose voice had become the dark background of my daysMeanwhile in the plot next door another modernist architect is embarking on a rather abstract and ambitious project one that reminded me of The Folly by Ivan Vladislavic Although this is perhaps a lazy comparison as Kilalea has argued she has little affinity with South African literature citing instead The Magic Mountain as perhaps her key inspiration see This imaginary obsession then develops into a real one as he starts to stalk Hannah Kallenbach spending his days hiding in her garden although the narrator himself seems unaware of how creepy his behaviour has become Later on he strikes up a kinship with a stray dog one that seems to have little need of companionship human or otherwise but spends its days playing incessantly with an old tennis ball He seemed to want it to go on foreverAnd this lack of progress seems key to his world view In another imagined dialogue It’s better than the alternative said Hannah Kallenbach What the alternative? I saidErosion inspired by his disgust at coastal erosion and indeed entropy in general – strikingly the Villa designed for aesthetics than practicality leaks when it rains and is in general is a state of decay Whereas as the opening uote suggests Mr Field seems trapped in statis a sense of absence which was disconcerting breaking as it did the promise inherent in reading that line by line as one thing leads to another one is all the time going somewhere that if one keeps going one will eventually get somewhere to some end or conclusion A truly striking and highly original novel – one I am surprised didn’t receive prize attention 45 stars

  7. Roxanne Roxanne says:

    The odd thing about an introvert like me reading through the mind of a self reflective character is the meta conversation occurring in my head during many moments of the book The upside is that as I judged my shyness to his I came out looking exceptionally normal insert smiley emoticon hereKilalea’s book is entertaining in that rainy day deep thought way You relish Mr Field’s time to just stare and think and often giggle at his uestioning and subseuent struggle to bond with those closest The book is also a naturalist’s picnic as Mr Field takes in the flora and fauna surrounding the home as he gazes out various windows His walk turned into café excursion is a fun romp as he entangles himself with strangers and yet creates the perfect metaphor for who he is to himself

  8. Desiree Desiree says:

    This week I read Ok Mr Field by Katharien Kilalea I was provided a copy of this book to read by Penguin Random House This does not effect my review in any way as always my thoughts on this book are my own and not influenced by the publisher Ok Mr Field is about a concert pianist who gets injured in a car accident and is unable to continue to play the piano After the accident Mr Field purchases a house by the sea and then proceeds to do absolutely nothing For the entirety of this book Mr Field wanders around his house watches some construction that is taking place next door and goes for drives He does creepily stalk the prior owner of his house but it's the most uneventful stalking ever written because all he does is stand around outside her window I kept expecting something anything to happen but nothing does Since there's no conflict there's also no resolution and I walked away from this book feeling like I had just wasted my time Luckily it was pretty short so there wasn't a lot of time involved Some of the author's descriptions and prose are truly beautiful She certainly has a way with words but all the beautiful phrasing in the world can't make up for a book in which nothing occurs Not that there weren't opportunities for conflict Mr Field's wife leaves him he stalks his home's former owner but the author doesn't take the opportunity to use them The most exciting thing that happens in the novel happens near the end when Mr Field chases his dog around the house becuase it chewed up a notebook snore If you're looking for something to help put you to sleep Okay Mr Field is going to be available on shelves July 17th I recommend looking elsewhere for something to take with you on vacation

  9. Terris Terris says:

    Wellthat was uite a ride and weird I'm not even sure where I came up with book or why I decided to read it I'm just glad it wasn't long

  10. Julianna Julianna says:

    Mr Fields is slowly disintegrating There is construction outside his new house but throughout the book he describes it mostly as de construction His thoughts and feeling move like a mist coming in and out of focus This book is like a dream where strange things pop out of nowhere and nothing much happens but there is a strange feeling of dread or uneasiness Yet the writing is superb and well worth the trip unless you are depressedIf this were made into a film I could see bringing back Tarkovsky shorter than his usual films or Antonioni Yes Blow Up meets Mr Fieldswas there a murder or not? hmmm

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