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Karoo [Paperback]

Steve Tesich
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Jan 1999

Oscar-winning writer Steve Tesich masterfully creates and destroys the sad, mad world of Saul Karoo.

Karoo is an alcoholic who can't get drunk, a loving father who can't bear to be alone with his son, a fixer of film scripts who admits that he ruins every one of them.

Calamity and comedy accompany Saul on his odyssey through sex, death and showbusiness as he seeks to 'fix' both a master director's greatest film and his own broken life at the same time.

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Karoo + Stoner: A Novel (Vintage Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (7 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099777916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099777915
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Karoo has all the ingredients of a truly great novel. Its plot has the pathos of a Greek tragedy and enough twists and turns to satisfy the most avid Raymond Chandler fan. The characters come alive as soon as they appear on the page. Fantastic" (Literary Review)

"Utterly wonderful... This novel does supremely what novels were invented to do - it confronts the most unbearable sadness with a comic exhilaration that makes you almost pleased that life is tragic" (Howard Jacobson)

"Mordantly funny, unexpectedly moving and brutally honest about the business of making movies" (Richard E Grant)

"Fascinating. A real satiric invention, loaded with wise outrage" (Arthur Miller)

"Terrific. Nakedly honest, a tour de force of self-destruction. As Saul spirals into free-fall we're with him all the way, because he's so furiously funny" (Deborah Moggach)


"Drop whatever else you're reading. It won't be as good as Karoo. It certainly won't be as funny"

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and painful 1 Dec 2008
Don't be put off by the first 150 pages! At that point, I thought I was in for an endless wallow in slime along the lines of 1980s Martin Amis (which I enjoyed at the time...).

However, 'Karoo' turns out to be far more than an ironic expose of Hollywood hacks and their shallow lives.

Yes, it's concerned with shallowness (and obsessed with the divide between 'public and 'private' selves that once animated the work of Chekhov).

But 'Karoo' goes beyone the entertainment of similarly disgusted satires (e.g. 'The Player') and becomes a howl of mid-life pain, more excrutiating than an entire series of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', and full of frustrated self-knowledge.

The novel's final third is suffused with a yearning for beauty and truth that put me in mind of 'Seize the Day', a brilliant novella by Saul Bellow, whose name bears a curious resemblance to that of the anti-hero in Tesich's book (and whose protagonist also ultimately finds grace in an uncomfortable encounter with a deathly body).

'Karoo' is written in the flat, fluent syle favoured by screenwriters. Easy to read, then -- but the bleak, tortured, self-circling truths faced by its anti-hero are hard to face, and I can imagine repelled readers throwing it to the floor in disgust.

Angry, male novels like 'Karoo' are bound to divide readers. But I have found this book unforgettable, particularly for the moving final quarter, where it widens out, rising above self-disgust and social satire to become a strange, emotional meditation upon creativity and the soul.

I would like to thank FC Boyce for introducing me to a novel that I would have missed if it weren't for is evangelising!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonder 1 Mar 2007
Extremely funny and at the same heart breaking. Unquestionably the best book ever about movies but also one of the best books ever about fatherhood, about failure, about drink, about ... oh and one of the most heart-stoppingly amazing final chapters you'll ever read.

Why is this book not number one?

what is wrong with you all?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Age and age's evils 30 Dec 2010
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Howard Jacobson recommended this book to the 26 group of writers at their annual lecture at the British Library after he won the Booker Prize. I read it in four days - which is pretty quick for me. The first 150 page are a glorious description of the human condition from the point of view of an embittered, successful and wealthy New York script doctor, whose life is falling apart. It's ingenious and very funny. The pace slows a bit when we get into the main story, but I still found the prose magnificent in places. The way he puts things and the way he brings in unexpected details that have a unexpected payoff later in the narrative is brilliant.

Having studied alcoholism, it does suggest to me that the main character shows all the terrible failings of an untreated alcoholic, and there is a bit of an irony in the fact that Saul has lost the capacity to experience the intoxication of the stuff. The book did give me some ideas for taking a rather jaundiced view of life, in the tradition of Reggie Perrin, you get to see how life frustrates our hopes and expectations in the most miraculous ways.

It owes something to the Richard Yates pile on the misery school of writing, and it covers the sophisticated writer's hangups that you get in Robert Altman's The Player - not everyone's cup of tea. The book gave me all sorts of cynical giggles and it had lots of unexpected ideas and insights. The ending filled me with horror and sadness, so I agree with Howard Jacobson - read this novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 16 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is excellent, a superb read. If you liked Martin Amis's Money or Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, chances are you will like this. An exquisitely written book with care and attention paid to language. Brash, subtle, laugh-out-loud funny, sad, funny, crazy - there's so much in it!
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