Zadie Smith The Autograph Man

ISBN 13: 9780143566519

The Autograph Man

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9780143566519: The Autograph Man
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Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. He hunts for them, collects them, sells them, occasionally fakes them - all to give the people what they want - a little piece of Fame. This is a deeply funny, existential tour around the hollow things of modernity - celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. Unlike 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.

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Review:

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

From the Back Cover:

“Intelligent. . . . exquisitely clever. . . . an ironic commentary about fame, mortality, and the triumph of image over reality.” —The Boston Globe

“The same bracing intelligence and salty humor that distinguished her debut. . . . Smith scatters marvelous sentences and sharp insights on nearly every page.” —LA Times

“A lovely surprise. Zadie Smith . . . has come out with a second book that is actually better than its predecessor: its dialog funnier, its language even more plugged in, more wired.” —Esquire

“A preternaturally gifted . . . writer [with] a voice that’s street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time.” –The New York Times

“Savvy, witty and exuberant.” –New York Daily News

“Smith is young and smart, and . . . she proves to be an amazingly gifted writer.” –Washington Post Book World

“Smith writes sharp dialogue for every age and race–and she’s funny as hell.” –Newsweek

“[Zadie Smith] possesses a more than ordinary share of talent.” –USA Today

“Absolutely delightful.” –Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune

“Smith’s clever, aphoristic observations and snappy dialogue are so delightful they tend to become addictive. . . . [The Autograph Man is] always entertaining.” –Elle

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