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The Autograph Man has a similar ebullience and an equally dazzling panoply of characters. Its hero Alex Li-Tandem is "one of this generation who watch themselves", a Chinese-Jewish north Londoner who is first introduced as a child accompanying his father to a wrestling match between those two larger-than-life scions of 1970s Saturday afternoon television--Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. When Alex's father dies in the pandemonium surrounding the pursuit of Big Daddy's autograph, the twin themes of the novel are launched--one is the bereaved Alex's search for a replacement to fill the gulf, the other his obsession with tracking down, buying and selling autographs. Alex seeks one autograph in particular and seemingly in vain--that of Kitty Alexander, a fading film star. The route he follows in his search has much to say about the nature of celebrity and the privacy of souls, of fantasy and reality--all narrated in Smith's breathless prose.
The Autograph Man plays on many strands and clever observations--in particular Jewishness, goyishness and Zen Buddhism. Smith is a superbly assured writer whose images stick in the mind; for example, Alex's girlfriend Esther has "hair plaited like a puzzle". The dialogue is vivid and there is much humour but at times the convoluted plot threatens to spill over into anarchy and the humour can be self-conscious. Though this does not diminish the entertainment value of The Autograph Man, it does--frustratingly--make it appear insincere. --Catherine Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
White Teeth was brilliant. This is not. The writing isn't terrible but I really don't care about most of the characters and a couple of them are just a bit too much of a stretch... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Esk
Boring. Characters - I couldn't care. Cool and iconoclastic = nothing of any interest.
Skip-read to the end and none the wiser.
I loved this book. It's the best I've read in a long time. I'm surprised by the other reviews. I picked it up by chance and couldn't put it down. It races along. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Flora.B
This was a rather strange novel and I can't say that I specifically liked/disliked it. I think the author was trying to use a story to convey a spiritual/philosophical message and... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Cece de la Vela
The protagonist of this story is Alex-Li Tandem, a Chinese-Jewish young man living in current day London. His job and obsession are autographs which he sells. Read morePublished 18 months ago by The Pegster
I enjoyed this book.... but it's hard work. I know it's fiction but to really empathise with characters I need to feel they could really exist. Read morePublished 21 months ago by jonathan william chaplin
Read this with my book group. We all found it really boring. Bit of a nothing storyline. Didn't bother finishing it.Published 21 months ago by Anne Westbrook
An everyday tale, really, keeps you reading but nothing terribly original or special. The language is what lifts this story out of the mundane. Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2012 by Book Critic