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The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall
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The Electric Michelangelo (2004)

by Sarah Hall

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7042113,562 (3.52)76
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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
At times the language is so abstract and figurative that I thought I would need to diagram the sentences to understand it, but the story is compelling, and in the end I enjoyed this. The book creates fascinating characters, but we see most of them as cars passing on a dark road - they emerge from some unilluminated past, and disappear before we learn much about them. ( )
  rkstafford | Nov 19, 2015 |
Such prose! Hall's writing is beautiful, even when she's describing things terrible and bloody.

A definite MUST for those who have/want/love tattoos, and have an interest in carny (circus/sideshow) culture. ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
$1. find! ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
beautifully written and superbly descriptive. ( )
  tinfoilspider13 | Mar 7, 2013 |
The Electric Michelangelo is a beguiling book with a fascinating plot and a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters . It focuses on Cy (Cyril Parks) and chronicles most of his life from childhood to late middle age. Growing up, he helped his widowed mother, Reeda, with her boarding house full of consumptives taking the fabled soft air of Morecambe. Seemingly accidentally he falls into an apprenticeship with the manic, drunk and immensely talented local tattooer Eliot Riley whose death eventually enables him to set up as a tattoo artist in his own right.

Over the course of approximately 60 years, he travels from Morecambe to Coney Island and back again, lives through two World Wars, falls in love twice and encounters pretty much the full gamut of humanity's strengths and weaknesses.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It was a satisfying, intriguing read and well written. Mostly, it felt authentic. There were tiny little pinpricks of dissatisfaction, however. Firstly, the narrative voice initially feels too old and knowing for Cy. I was surprised to discover, a few paragraphs in, that these were intended to be the thoughts and reflections of a seven-year-old boy. Secondly, some of the names seemed a touch anachronistic. At one point the names of various sweethearts to be tattooed on sailors are recounted - Anita, Josephine and Clara. Josephine and Clara ring true, but Anita? Given that at this stage of the novel it is the 1920s, I find it hard to believe that there were many Anitas of courting age at the time! Thirdly and finally, the author's northern born and bred status notwithstanding, some of the language felt inauthentic. For example, she has 1920s Lancastrians referring to things or people as "old-timey". To my ear this is an American phrase (which I primarily associate with Bluegrass/Appalachian music). I would have thought "old-timers" to be a more likely usage.

But still, these are minor quibbles. As I say, in general, I liked the book. It introduced me to a world with which I was hither-to unfamiliar. While I am still not keen on tattoos (and, if anything, this novel has made me even more disinclined to get one done!), I have a greater appreciation of tattooing as an art form and am better able to detect the beauty there. I would, therefore, highly recommend "The Electric Michelangelo" and intend to explore more of Sarah Hall's work. ( )
  AllieW | Feb 1, 2012 |
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If the eyes could lie, his troubles might all be over.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060817240, Paperback)

Cy Parks is the Electric Michelangelo, an artist of extraordinary gifts whose medium happens to be the pliant, shifting canvas of the human body. Fleeing his mother's legacy -- a consumptives' hotel in a fading English seaside resort -- Cy reinvents himself in the incandescent honky-tonk of Coney Island in its heyday between the two world wars. Amid the carnival decadence of freak shows and roller coasters, enchanters and enigmas, scam artists and marks, Cy will find his muse: an enigmatic circus beauty who surrenders her body to his work, but whose soul tantalizingly eludes him.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Beginning as a humble apprentice in Morecambe Bay, Cy flees to America, where he sets up his own tattoo business on the infamous Coney Island boardwalk. In this carnival environment of roller-coasters and freak shows, Cy becomes enamoured with Grace, a mysterious circus performer.… (more)

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