Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Autograph Man

I'm about halfway through The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith.  (I've temporarily put down The Savage Detectives, not given it up for good.)  It's good so far.  Lighter than I expected - not a shallow comic novel like any of the Jeeves books, but still amusing and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.  The main character, Alex-Li Tandem, is a 27-year-old British man who trades and authenticates autographs for a living.  His Chinese father died of a brain tumor when he was twelve, and his Jewish mother is still alive.

The book begins (third-person omniscient) on the day of Alex's father's death.  It then jumps years ahead.  Alex has just woken up from a bad trip on drugs an old friend had given him (and is now third person limited - limited to Alex).  As Alex goes about his day, figuring out what happened while he was tripping and dealing with the repercussions amongst his friends and girlfriend, we learn more about his life as an Autograph Man, his identity as a Jew, and his feelings about his father's death.

Note: If this sounds like a more morose take on "Dude, Where's My Car?" or "The Hangover," that's my fault.  That is certainly not the case.

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