cover image Mr. Phillips

Mr. Phillips

John Lanchester. Simon & Schuster Audio, $12 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-77501-8

Unusual and intriguing, this sardonic novel takes place over the course of a single unexceptional day. Mr. Phillips, a middle-aged London accountant, was fired on Friday but didn't have the courage to tell his wife. So on Monday, he leaves his house as if going to work, then spends the day wandering around London--riding buses and trains, having lunch with his grown son (a record company entrepreneur), watching a porn flick, witnessing a bank robbery and chatting with an elderly lady--before finally heading home. Mr. Phillips's thoughts form the heart of the novel--ironic and philosophical musings on work, sex, aging, money, identity, fame and modern society in general. Audio veteran Curry ably conveys the satirical quality of Lanchester's writing, as well as its more poignant moments. There is very little dialogue--mainly one-liners that Mr. Phillips overhears, along with memories of his hypocritical boss and his lunchtime conversation with his son. But in these bits, Curry creates comic voices that convey each character's pomposity and pretentiousness. Based on the Putnam hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 31). (Apr.)