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Memoirs Of A Book Thief h/c

Memoirs Of A Book Thief h/c back

A. Tota & P. Van Hove


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"I whipped everything out I could remember of Gilles' speech about art being passé and laid it on him, explaining the connection between car theft and poetry.
"He asked me countless questions. He wanted to know everything. I was forced to make up increasingly unbelievable stories.
"I painted myself as a shrewd connoisseur of modernity, a verbal revolutionary, an adventurer of enigmatic intent...
"Nicole discovered that she was hanging out with an essential player on the international art scene."

Which was of course total bullshit! Here's the publisher to tell us more about the deliverer of deception, the font of fabrication, the master of the mendacious that is one Daniel Brodin...

"Paris, the 1950s. Daniel Brodin - bibliophile, book thief, self-proclaimed poet - enters the heated atmosphere of the Cafe Serbier, home of the Parisian literati. Daniel impulsively puts himself forward for a poetry recitation.

Under pressure, he recites not one of his own surrealist poems but an obscure piece of Italian verse he's certain no one will know. It's plagiarism, but it's a triumph. Daniel's recital marks his entrance into the Parisian avant-garde: a band of cultured rogues and pseudo-revolutionaries for whom life is a playground for art and planning a robbery has as much value as writing a book.

In this milieu, the wine is good and the girls are beautiful. But can success last if it is founded on plagiarism and theft?"

Well, that depends entirely on if you continue to get away with it, I would imagine! And Daniel does, for a long, long time... But any house of cards will eventually topple if you keep on trying to build it higher and higher...

I'll be completely honest now, unlike the disingenuous Daniel: I really wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this from my first extremely cursory flick through. However, pretty much as soon as I commenced, I was hooked. By the character of Daniel, and indeed all his crackpot cohorts in 'the scene' with their hair-brained schemes, both artistic and criminal, their petty jealousies and rivalries, and of course the compulsory booze-drenched lifestyle.

Consequently I found this a hilarious enjoyable, riotous piece of contemporary fiction, well, part cautionary tale too, I suppose! You'll find yourself rooting for Daniel, even though you know you really shouldn't, but we all love a chancer, don't we? Though he does steal books... so on principle I ought to regard him as a complete and utter irredeemable bastard, deserving of burning in hell forever in the very special corner reserved for those partaking of the five-fingered discount of reading material.

Sorry, got a bit carried away there! Let him takes his chances and we'll see what happens... For when Daniel eventually finds himself in far, far too deep to extract himself from yet another stupid situation of his own creating, you'll very possibly groan out loud just as I did at the inevitable misstep he finally makes...

Art-wise, the deliberately, dare I say it, slightly dishevelled style is absolutely perfect for this work. Black and white throughout, the only splash of colour is the red wine in Daniel's glass on the front cover (and some letters in the title and creator's names for good measure which actually works very nicely). There's many an intense stare, sly grin and frequently sweaty brows as Daniel continues to try and navigate increasing murky waters.
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