Theft
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Theft

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  2,169 ratings  ·  283 reviews
Michael "Butcher" Boone is an ex-“really famous" painter, now reduced to living in a remote country house and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh. Alone together they've forged a delicate equilibrium, a balance instantly destroyed when a mysterious young woman named Marlene walks out of a rainstorm and into their lives. Beautiful, smart, and ambitious, she's...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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·Karen·
I'm a Peter Carey junkie, slowly coming down again from the wild rush that his books give me. There's hardly a writer whose books are just so much damned FUN. This is another example of his versatility and originality, especially obvious in the two narrative voices of the two brothers, so different at the beginning of the book, but that seem to approach each other more and more. It becomes clearer and clearer that Butcher Bones is the less reliable of the two, his 'damaged' brother Hugh, the 'id...more
Rachel
Apr 10, 2008 Rachel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: bookclub
I really didn't care for this book. It was a painful read. The story is told by two narrators: an artist, who is a bit crazy and a drunk, and his brother, who is mentally challenged (though you never really learn what his diagnosis is). It is told in a stream of consciousness and the chapters can be very hard to follow. It tells the story of the theft of a famous piece of art in Australia and how it intertwines with this artist's life. It improves as the story unfolds, but I just found myself wa...more
David
The more I read of Peter Carey, the better I like him. I found "Oscar and Lucinda" tough sledding. "My life as a Fake" explored some interesting ideas, but wasn't altogether successful, in my opinion. In "Theft", Carey revisits some of the themes which clearly continue to interest him - Australian art and literature, and how they are perceived both within and outside Australia. "My Life as a Fake" dealt with literature and made obvious reference to the infamous "Ern Malley" literary hoax of the...more
Cynthia
Carey’s humor is transcendent in this book. It’s the story of Michael, an alcoholic nearing middle age painter who leaves the detritus of his failed marriage and some legal tussles in Australia and immigrates to New York city with his new (and ever scheming) love and his mentally challenged brother Hugh (though you find yourself continually wondering who has the largest handicap, Michael or Hugh). Most of the happenings are tragic but you find yourself laughing anyway especially reading Hugh’s t...more
Robert W
I read Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake and Wrong About Japan, and didn’t like either of them. I just couldn’t get hooked into the effusively praised My Life as a Fake, and Wrong About Japan, though it had a few clever insights, seemed too slight to be a book.

So I wasn’t planning to read any more Carey, but a review of Theft made me waver. I like books about fictional artists, and the subject of art crime and fraud has long interested me. The fine art trade is very lightly regulated, but places a...more
Johnathan
Fantastic book! This is one worth sticking through, for the ending is really killer. I had my doubts in the beginning, but the novel really delivered. I loved the alternating first person POVs. (My novel does the same thing, and I've been struggling with it. Now I feel like I can move forward.) I grew to love both characters, Hugh's ignorance as much Butcher's anger. Loved the thriller, mystery aspect, tempered always by beautiful observations and lyrical turns of phrase. Carey's got a great han...more
James Murphy
Remember J. P. Donleavy? The Ginger Man? I remembered Donleavy about p200 of Theft. Peter Carey's prose isn't quite so verbally manic. But this novel is joyously written and full of energy. Those qualities reminded me of Donleavy. I thought it very well-written. Fun to read. Fun to return to every day. This novel did something few novels can do: it made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also serious. The plot of Theft is essentially an art theft caper. That in itself isn't exciting, though it's clever...more
Nick
Australia baffles me. The place, the people, the cultures are so foreign to me, everything I read (or see in films) by Australians has an air of mystification about it which leaves me scratching my head – “What just happened heah, mate?”

Peter Carey’s noir-ish tale of thievery in the art world would appear to bridge the gap between this cultural mystification and more familiar territory from the rest of the world. But it’s very essence of “Aussieness” dominates and I am left as confused as usual....more
Darwin8u
"How do you know how much to pay if don't know what it's worth?"

Seriously, I LOVE Carey. While this isn't his best, his good novels tend to kick the arse of most other writers. He is jumping on a trampoline of language while juggling multiple narratives of love, family, art and theft. For me this novel was like reading some mash-up of 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Vincent and Theo' all staged in multiple triangles of love and fraud.

It was bold, lustful, fierce and flawed. It showed how art and love ca...more
Tanuj Solanki
I share John Updike's words for he has said exactly what I would have wanted to say but would have been too incapable of putting across so well:

"Theft is not a superb novel; there is something displaced at its heart. Its colorful means keep us at one remove from the central action, which, in retrospect, is perfidious and shocking."

A more personal review will be added later.
Monica
“How do you know how much to pay if you don't know what it's worth?”

Don’t be deceived...this is not just a book about art and paintings and how they are created.

This is a love story. About different kinds of love. A man’s love of painting. His love for his brother who he can’t live without. And his love of a woman. Mix all this love together on one canvas and you get an amazing story. I really, really enjoyed this book. It absorbed me completely. Not just the story, not just that the story moves...more
Susan
Michael Boone, alias Butcher Bones, is a once celebrated Australian artist who’s just got out of jail for various crimes that resulted from his divorce and what he sees as the appropriation of his work as marital property. His reputation is in the toilet and he’s broke. His only benefactor, a collector named Jean-Paul, provides a rundown rural house in the far north of New South Wales and, there being no alternative, Michael and his retarded brother Hugh (for whom he’s legal guardian) light out...more
Tony

Carey, Peter. THEFT. (2006). ***. Carey, a writer from Australia, is a two-time winner of the Booker Prize (“Oscar & Lucinda,” and “The True History of the Kelly Gang.”) – the only other writer to do so being J. M. Coetze. His books are usually eminently readable and are full of wit and humor. He manages to draw his characters so perfectly that we think we know someone just like them – but wouldn’t admit it. In this novel he tells the story of two brothers: Michael “Butcher” Boone, and his y...more
Sandie
Take a little bit of the movie Dominick & Eugene, plus a pinch of Of Mice and Men, throw in a dash of Les Miserables add a magnificent high-stakes art theft, murder and an international crime investigation and you get just a tip of the magnificent iceberg called THEFT: A LOVE STORY. This is the story of individual identity that explores the relationship between Michael "Butcher" Boone, a has-been Australian artist just released from the slammer and his mentally impaired two hundred twenty po...more
Emilyfn
Jul 15, 2008 Emilyfn rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Emilyfn by: my book club
If you want a vivid picture of the dark side of the international art world, very well written, read this; otherwise, go to the museum and meditate on some true art. Overall, I found this read gratuitously obscene; however, the author is a Booker Prize winner, and it was my book club selection, so I persisted and finished it. It is told from the alternating perspectives of two brothers, Michael, a famous painter, who has fallen from fame, divorced, (he refers to his former wife as the “Plaintiff...more
Charlotte
I cant quite decide if I enjoyed this book or simply finished out of a sense of commitment to reach the end. The plot seemed captivating, hence why I started reading in the first place, but it was difficult to immerse myself wholly in the story. The unfamiliar landscape of Australia and constant jumps into individual trails of thought was both distracting and charming. One difficult tendency was the lack of segue between key events, often times travel and great changes were only offhandedly rema...more
Arianna
I wish I could remember where I first heard of this book, years ago. (I believe it was a very positive review in some paper or on some website.) I promptly added it to my PaperbackSwap queue and was rewarded with it after much patience. Since then, I’ve been excited to get around to it. But it’s been quite disappointing, despite calling to mind elements of Palahniuk, Faulkner, and Steinbeck.

Pahalniuk because of the “edgy” writing, modern speaking voice, and general feel of disdain for the world....more
Gerald
Theft is about art and art fakes, love and betrayal. The notions of both kinds of fraud are intertwined. Thank you, Peter Carey for an idiosyncratic writing style. Actually two first-person styles, one for a tormented love-stricken painter and the other for his mentally challenged brother.

What would you do if you were in love with a psychopath and realized you didn't care what sins that person might or might not have committed?

Fascinating also for the interwoven facts and culture of the real art...more
Mag
Great narration in two voices, one of an artist, once famous painter, Bill (Butcher) Bones, and the other one of his slow and crazy brother, Hugh (Slow) Bones. In the end, one didn’t prove crazier than the other; I liked them both too, and the whole book with its plot, tempo and the subject matter- art, artists, art dealers, love, swindles, and how art is assessed. It sucked me right in and didn’t relent until the very end. It’s very well written, ironic, intelligent, informative, facetious and...more
Tom O'brien
To say Peter Carey has a way with words would be to do him a grave injustice. As with True History of the Kelly Gang, the reader relies on language to tell the half of the story not told by the two narrators. Carey is a craftsman, and language is his material.

As has been said in many other reviews, the novel is narrated by the Boone Brothers, Michael and Hugh. The first shares a cynical view on the world, whilst the second is a man of 'childlike emotional volatility'. Hugh's narrative is diffic...more
Carinya Kappler
Theft by Peter Carey Book Review
Carinya 16.03.2014
This is a roller coaster story, so full of ups, downs and curves that the characters are spinning out of control, lost in their own dysfunctional confusion.
The author uses his primary narrator, artist Butcher Bones, originally from Bacchus Marsh, to unwittingly expose the festering underbelly of the world of fine art collectors and authenticators. He is an artistic bright light on the wane, experiencing financial troubles, a failed marriage with...more
Jennifer D
i don't have a lot of peter carey experience. the only other book i have read by him is Parrot and Olivier in America. i think it was also a 3-star read for me. which isn't a bad thing...but i always feel that 3-star reads are books that, while fine, could have been better. so i get bummed out when i land on a 3-star rating. (aside: both of the carey novels i have read contain a privileged character named 'olivier' -- ummm...what's up with that, dude?)

anyway...theft was interesting but i felt ce...more
Janice
2.5 stars. i think.

the art world bores me to hell and back, it's about 50 pages too long, and who needs a seemingly extraneous dead puppy? not me, that's who.

still, there's some pretty stuff here. i'm having trouble gauging how i feel. that's been happening a lot lately. maybe i'll sleep on it.

ok, then.
Vanessa
Why this was shortlisted for the Booker prize I have no effing clue. Boring, tedious, unfunny and unbelievable, I forced myself on to the bitter end only because it was my book club pick. I will never regain those hours of my life - effectively flushed down the toilet - spent reading this waste of ink and paper. PFFFFTTT.
Diana
Hmmmm, not really sure how to review this one. It took me almost 200 pages to feel that I was 'into' the story, and then the rest was interesting enough, but also something of a slog. I found the plot really fun - a washed-up Australian painter, Butcher Bones, falls for a younger woman, Marlene, who seems to help resuscitate his career, but also happens to be (at the minimum) a likely art thief and art-world criminal, albeit a very clever one who married into artistic 'royalty' despite humble or...more
Madri
Brilliant! One of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. The voices of Butcher Bones and his brother Hugh is done with such mastery and skill, it cannot leave you untouched.
Eileen
I believe the narrative 'flaws' in this book were meant to be intentional, but the reading experience was just so simultaneously vulgar and bland I'm not sure how I could rate this more than 2 stars. I don't know how to describe this book except "gross," which normally wouldn't bother me so I'm not sure why it does in this case.

The commentary on art as a way of making money is somewhat interesting, as I heard this book was written because Peter Carey needed money at the time. Intentional or jus...more
Devon
I give this book two stars instead of one because I could not bring myself to finish it. I hate not finishing a book once I start it, especially one such as 'THEFT' that I was so looking forward to reading, so believe me I tried. I suffered through page after page of this book for over two weeks only to get a little more than halfway through. You heard right, it took me two weeks to just get to the halfway mark, that is because every time I read a page or two I found myself falling asleep, as th...more
Graham
I finished this book a while ago and at the time was quite ambivalent about it. It is billed as being humorous, but I can't see it. Perhaps its just Australian humour that does nothing for me,or I don't see the funny side of two brothers, one with some kind of disability which is never truly explored, telling more or less the same story from different perspectives.

However having spent some time thinking about the main thrust of the plot, I find that the book has quite a bit to say, especially ab...more
Stella
Peter Carey is a very amusing Australian author who lives and teaches in New York. The best thing about him is that he always writes a completely differnt book to anything he has done before, though they always have some preposterous component and they are always funny. He is probably best knows for his Ned Kelly book but the others are also well worth reading.
Theft is set in Australia and New York. The protagonist is an artist, who takes care of his mentally-challenged brother. He falls in love...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv...more
More about Peter Carey...
Oscar and Lucinda True History of the Kelly Gang Parrot and Olivier in America Jack Maggs The Chemistry of Tears

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