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The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
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The Autograph Man (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Zadie Smith

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2,286282,787 (3.08)1 / 74
Member:TigerBeast79
Title:The Autograph Man
Authors:Zadie Smith
Info:Penguin (2003), Edition: New Ed, Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith (2002)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
The book has it's faults but over all I liked it. It remeinded me a bit of Manchild if the characters had been recast as younger and Jewish. They are just as shallow and obsessed as their older goyish counterparts. The writing style reminds me of Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned in how it flits between prose and play with the occassional diagram thrown in. The book though is awkward in its presentation and expiramentation and could use some editing -- a fifty page prologue is too long. While the author probably loved the backstory she had created for Alex-Li Tandem, knowing how his father died is not neccessary to appreciate the story. It would have been better to introduce the details throughout the story rather than up front. ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 13, 2014 |
I have enjoyed the book to some extent, but then it kept moving in same circles and I lost interest. It simply did work for me. ( )
  flydodofly | Jul 20, 2014 |
Started strongly, but by the end I found it kind of trite. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
I picked up this book because I had a voucher to use up and the book shop had suggested that Zadie Smith is similar to Margaret Atwood. Well, apart from being female I'm not sure there's any connection, but I did really love this book. On glancing at other reader reviews, I wasn't sure what I was in for--many compared The Autograph Man unfavourably with White Teeth, a book which a good friend didn't like at all, but I loved this from the start. The sense of humour was very much in line with my own and Zadie Smith's observations on life/reality rarely failed to strike a chord. ( )
  Vivl | Apr 5, 2013 |
Gave to L as present. Will read at some time. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Ms. Smith's latest novel, ''The Autograph Man,'' is similarly ambitious -- in this case tackling such sprawling themes as the consequences of fame, the hunger for religious faith, the tension between the symbolic and the mundane -- but it's a flat-footed, grudging performance. Dour where ''White Teeth'' was exuberant; abstract and pompous where ''White Teeth'' was brightly satiric; tight and preachy where ''White Teeth'' was expansive.
 
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Epigraph
Naturally things cannot in reality fit together the way the
evidence does in my letter; life is more than a Chines puzzle.

- Franz Kafka, Letter to His Father
I would always make believe that Clark Gable was my father.

- Marilyn Monroe
Dedication
To my amazing brothers Ben and Luke,
And for my friend Adam Andrusier, who knows funny
First words
He has the ability to imagine himself a minor incident in the lives of others.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037570387X, Paperback)

When Alex-Li Tandem is 12 years old, his father takes him and his friends Adam and Rubinfine to a wrestling match at the Albert Hall in London. By the end of the evening, the pivotal events of Alex-Li's youth have occurred: he has met Joseph Klein, a boy whose fascination with autographs proves infectious; his friendships with Adam and Rubinfine are cemented; and his father has dropped dead. This is enough action for an entire book, and in fact things slow down dramatically after page 35 of Zadie Smith's sophomore novel The Autograph Man. When we meet Alex again, he is a grown man, an autograph dealer and devoted slacker, suffering the physical and spiritual after-effects of a three-day romance with a drug called "Superstar." While under its malign influence, Alex has managed to wreck his sports car, alienate his girlfriend Esther, and--possibly--forge the rare autograph of his idol, the 1950s movie star Kitty Alexander. Will his friends save him from the embarrassment of trying to sell this suspect autograph? Will they pull him together in time to perform Kaddish on the 15th anniversary of his father's death? Although not as enthralling or politically resonant as White Teeth, Smith's hallowed debut, The Autograph Man amply demonstrates her ability to juggle several main characters, several themes, and a host of plots and subplots, with the occasional purely comic episode thrown up in the air beside them like a chainsaw or a cheesecake. Readers will want to step away to a safe distance during the chaotic final scenes. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. A small blip in a huge worldwide network of desire, his business is to hunt for names on paper, collect them, sell them, and occasionally fake them - all to give the people what they want: a little piece of Fame. But what does Alex want? Only the return of his father, the reinstatement of some kind of all-powerful, benevolent God-type figure, the end of religion, something for his headache, three different girls, infinite grace, and the rare autograph of forties movie actress Kitty Alexander. With fries." "The Autograph Man is an existential tour around the hollow things of modernity: celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. Through London and then New York, searching for the only autograph that has ever mattered to him, Alex follows the paper trail while resisting the mystical lure of Kabbalah and Zen, and avoiding all collectors, con men, and interfering rabbis who would put themselves in his path. Pushing against the tide of his generation, Alex-Li is on his way to finding enlightenment, otherwise known as some part of himself that cannot be signed, celebrated, or sold."--BOOK JACKET. ~.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140276343, 0143566512

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