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The Electric Michelangelo (P.S.)

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  1,845 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
Opening on the windswept front of Morecambe Bay, on the remote north-west coast of England, The Electric Michelangelo is a novel of love, loss and the art of tattooing.

In the uniquely sensuous and lyrical prose that has already become her trademark, Sarah Hall's remarkable new novel tells the story of Cy Parks, from his childhood years spent in a seaside guest house for co
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Paperback, 340 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published March 18th 2004)
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Lover Awakened by J.R. WardDark Lover by J.R. WardLover Avenged by J.R. WardLover Mine by J.R. WardLover Unbound by J.R. Ward
tattoos and piercings
59th out of 349 books — 201 voters
Rules of Civility by Amor TowlesTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeAtonement by Ian McEwanMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Best 1930s Historical Fiction
31st out of 77 books — 145 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Leslie
Aug 19, 2008 Leslie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like lists, adjectives, and lists of adjectives
I'm the first person to champion ambitious prose, even when it overreaches. I was absolutely with this book for the first 50 pages (at least through the anecdotal preamble about Cy's mischievous, unorthodox upbringing in a seaside consumptive hotel/abortion clinic). But once Riley is introduced and Cy is ensnared in the seamy underworld of tattooing, seadog villainy, and other tediously familiar treachery, the monomaniacal narrative voice begins to bulldoze the protagonist, wringing from him any ...more
☕Laura
Aug 03, 2014 ☕Laura rated it it was amazing
This is the story of Cy Parks, from his coming of age on the shores of Morecambe Bay in England to his career as a tattoo artist on the boardwalk of Coney Island, New York in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is the story of the three people who would shape his soul, all three somewhat eccentric and flawed, tortured and gifted. His mother, Reeda Parks, runs a hotel for consumptives in Morecambe Bay, where the "soft air" is said to assuage their symptoms, and shows him what it is to ...more
Allie
Feb 07, 2010 Allie rated it liked it
What Sarah Hall does well in "The Electric Michelangelo" are descriptions. The images of blood, coughed up from lungs or pulled with a tattoo needle, are vivid enough to make me queasy. Likewise, I can perfectly imagine the characters and their every mannerism, except the main character Cyril whose perspective gives the story. However, after all these carefully constructed visuals I was left wanting more plot. The main action takes many fewer pages than the descriptions and happens so abruptly ...more
Nancy B.
Jul 21, 2007 Nancy B. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I expected this book to be a kind of fluffy story about a tattoo artist and his adoration of a girl, but it turns out that it's really a brilliantly drawn coming of age novel for the art of tattooing, america, and one engaging young man. The girl, who doesn't come in until late, is intriguing and solid, with a feminist bent that is believable and respectable. Sweet!
Meghann
Apr 18, 2007 Meghann rated it did not like it
i did not enjoy this book. i finished it out of obligation; i think i kept wanting it to be better but it just never was. i didn't really care about anyone in this story, though it was a little interesting to learn about early tatooing methods.
Carol
May 31, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This book was terrific - I had very much wanted to read it and it lived up to every expectation I had. Set during the first half of the 20th century, it's about Cy Parks, who grows up in an English seaside resort town and becomes a very good tattoo artist. He emigrates to America, where he plies his trade in Coney Island. There he encounters the enigmatic Grace, who does an equestrian act in one of the park's circuses. Their oddly intimate relationship develops through the medium of her request ...more
Shazia
Jul 19, 2015 Shazia rated it did not like it
I can't believe this won the Booker Prize. I chose it because of the prize (I've liked books by many other winners) and the intriguing subject matter - a tatoo artist from the period after the Great War and during the second World War, set in an English coastal tourist town and Coney Island. I think it won the award because the writing is so artful. Each phrase is a little poem. It seemed to me that the author got so caught up with her beautiful writing that she forgot about the need for plot or ...more
L.S.
Apr 11, 2010 L.S. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2010
[carte vorbita -humanitas:]
Dragos Bucur reuseste o lectura excelenta, ba as spune chiar o interpretare excelenta. Si autoarea mi-a lasat o impresie buna, deoarece a stiut sa vorbeasca frumos si ingenios despre un subiect care imi displace - si anume "arta tatuajului".
Cy o priveste pe Grace drept opera lui de arta, o opera pe care o iubeste. Se indragosteste de ea doar dupa ce Grace isi pierde frumusestea pe care el i-a dat-o.
Stacey
Jan 10, 2009 Stacey rated it liked it
This is the longest I have stuck with a book for a while, despite its difficulty. It literally took me 10 weeks to read (I'm measuring in weeks because of the whole pregnancy thing; I remember that when I started it, I was about 11 weeks because parts of the book were making me nauseous, and now I'm 21 weeks and the whole thing just made me tired lately). It's not because the book is overly long-it's about 340 pages--it's just that it's very dense. There is almost no dialogue, and the paragraphs ...more
Ellie
Aug 06, 2016 Ellie rated it liked it
The premise of this story was what drew me to it. Seaside resorts, amusement parks, early 20th century life, and body art all appealed to me, but Hall really could have benefited from some good editing. Her writing reminded me of the stuff of 19th century when writers were paid by the word. I often found myself wishing she would get to the point and move the story on. The second half was much more engaging, perhaps because the setting was a faster paced Coney Island, with rich, eccentric ...more
Kimberly
May 04, 2009 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
“War was a peculiar thing…It brought out the best and the worst and the downright incomprehensible in people. It made them slough off the dead skin of reason and deepen the roots of nationality. They became creatures of habit, more so than ever before…War sent people out looking for principles and decency and even fragments of God to be woven up in chain-mail and used as armour against all the bestial suffering and immoral wickedness inflicted by other human beings, those accused of creating a ...more
David
Jun 14, 2016 David rated it really liked it
I can see why people like this so much, the richness and the color. At the same time, it isn't for me so much. I want a story from this, but have trouble finding it. Things happen, but there's 90% of the book just for build up if it's Cy, and not enough payoff. I think there's too many stories without focus, too much favoring of maximalism, too much fascination with pure ornamentation for my taste. Many will love it for exactly those things, but I wanted things much tighter. Just me though, ...more
Catherine
Jan 26, 2008 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of the photographer Dianne Arbus and although I didn't know it when I put this on my wishlist, there are strong similarities in style. If Arbus had written, it would have been a book like this. There is distance from the characters yet aching intimacy.The atmosphere is so loaded, so heavy so exotic, yet the story so understated. Her writing is original, her phrasing accomplished. Wow! What an awe-some writer -- in the real sense of that word.
Andy
Mar 20, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Man, this book is fantastic, and I think the lady that wrote it did so when she was pretty young, in her 20s I believe. I'm not usually a real big fan of novels but this book is great. A really fun read for anyone interested in yesteryear, traditional tattoing, rogue citizens, outsiders, freaks or NYC. This book kind of reminded me of the also-awesome book Geek Love.
Lenah
Dec 15, 2007 Lenah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorite
I can never praise highly enough for this book! It is so unique, not only the writing itself is impeccable, the subject is almost never touched in the literature. Rich in description and at one point everything seemed to come to me like a bold painting! Very lovely book, shame it didn't win the Man Booker prize!
Peggy
Jun 16, 2009 Peggy rated it did not like it
blah, blah, blah x 1000 and i still don't understand the characters or their motivations. i know an awful lot about the bloody phlegm that was coughed up but each event that should have revealed something about the characters failed to reveal anything meaningful. empty!
Alicia
Mar 21, 2007 Alicia rated it did not like it
I tried to read this several times and haven't been able to get through it. I wish I could explain why, but perhaps it just isn't my style.
Dawn
Jul 24, 2011 Dawn rated it really liked it
Dynamic settings-- seaside amusement parks-- and a beautiful rendering of the history and art of tattoos (you're going to want some ink!) all as a vehicle for an engaging love story. SWOON!
Robert Irish
I thought that as a book shortlisted for the Booker Prize this would probably be an interesting read.
I was wrong.
In fact, how it reached the shortlist is something of a mystery. Even given the Booker's penchant for picking mediocre prize-winners (e.g. The Luminaries, Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Sell-Out), I usually find the shortlist contains some real gems (e.g. A Little Life). I guess I hoped that this was one.
It's not.
The book has some fascinating moments -- particularly in the fir
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James Askari
The novel is in two sections--an earlier section, set from the end of WWI on, in Morecambe Bay and a later, set in 30s Coney Island and Brooklyn. The central figure, Cy Parks, a young tattoo artist, is not rendered in a spirit of psychological realism; rather, he is impressionable and shaped by two decisive, outsize, far more interesting and complex figures. These are his bloody-minded mentor Eliot Riley, the best tattooist in the north of England but a vile, self-destructive drunk, and Grace, a ...more
Diana Andrei
Mar 21, 2010 Diana Andrei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michelangelo Electric, un roman captivant si neconventional care s-a numarat printre finalistele prestigiosului Booker Prize 2004, face parte din Colectia Raftul Denisei (foarte faina si ingrijita) si prezinta povestea fascinanta a unui artist tatuator de la inceputul secolului XX cand aceasta meserie era marginalizata si privita cu dezgust.

“Tatuajele puteau fi socante un timp. Dar in cele din urma deveneau componente obisnuite ale anatomiei umane. Oamenii treceau prin viata ca niste cani indelu
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Iso Cambia
"Brooklyn was as hopping crazy as a bucket of painted frogs."

----------------------

"Riley had once told him that it was not those big titties on a bare arm that offended, not farting ladies, nor a marked face. Tattooing was on the black side, yes, ot because it dealt largely with the rougher working classes, not because it meant that sex and danger and opinion got put about in pictures on people like a rude proclamation.....

Tattooing distresses those it does, lad, because it's as generous as a w
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Mary Ellen
Hall is a difficult writer to like, but also a hard one to completely abandon. Story, character, pacing, theme - all the usual elements of a novel - are tertiary at best, given a bit of lip service and a condescending pat on the head before being pushed aside. Hall's books are about text, the actual physical words being strung together on the page. There are adjectives. So many adjectives. All mashed together in a descriptive orgy. There are obscure nouns, selected for the strangeness of their ...more
Caitlin
Sep 24, 2016 Caitlin rated it liked it
Her prose is mesmerizing. I enjoyed the story but I wanted more Grace and less Riley.
Willem van den Oever
The story of Cyril Parks, a boy from northern British Morecambe, how he discovered the elements of life, loss and tattooing, which take him across the ocean and towards a young woman with a special assignment for him.

Sarah Hall has a way with words, painting with them in a delicate, poetic fashion, leaving behind long sentences and page-long paragraphs. Needless to say, the pacing of her story becomes rather low, despite spanning six decades in three hundred pages.
The Electric Michelangelo’ is
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Selena
Sep 09, 2015 Selena rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
It took me longer than expected to finish this book because I forgot to take it with me for the summer. When we finally reunited two nights ago, it didn't take long to remember the reasons I fell for it and also why sometimes I wanted to compress it and make the story move faster.

Why I picked it up? Because I liked the title (still do) and I've never before read a book with a tattoo artist as one of the main characters.

This is a very ... language-oriented book. If English is not your first lang
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Val
Jan 27, 2016 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookers, wpff-main
Cyril Parks grows up in Morecambe, a working-class holiday resort where his pragmatic, compassionate, widowed mother runs a guest-house. She rents rooms at a discount to customers the other guest-house proprietors do not want to know about, consumptives and sufferers from industrial lung diseases and wartime gas attacks hoping the clean Morecambe air will cure them. She also 'helps out' a succession of women in her back room at night. She teaches Cyril not to flinch from the unpleasant aspects ...more
Emily
Aug 08, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
The strange thing is that I remember not liking it very much but finished it anyway. I just went back and read the Amazon reviews of the books and now I remember - the writing was really beautiful and the book introduced me to a world - a couple, actually - that were completely unfamiliar to me. But it was a sad and dark and disturbing book, and I think that's why I remember not liking it very much.

Cy is a child of a single mother in a small seaside town in England early in the 20th century. His
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Lovereading
May 25, 2015 Lovereading rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
randy
Jan 21, 2012 randy rated it it was ok
After an incredibly long streak of reading great books and enjoying them all, there was bound to be an end to it all. And with this book the end came quickly and severely.

I could not keep up with the amount of times I said to myself that I was not going to pick this up again and abandon it, but then a line of absolute beauty would rise from the page enough to knock me clear on my ass and force me to rethink the whole thing. One of these quotes: "More than baseball and the cooking, more even tha
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Sarah Hall took a degree in English and Art History at Aberystwyth University, and began to take writing seriously from the age of twenty, first as a poet, several of her poems appearing in poetry magazines, then as a fiction-writer. She took an M Litt in Creative Writing at St Andrew's University and stayed on
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“People were made up of shit and piss and phlegm and bits and pieces of experience.” 6 likes
“There were times when initial introductions were so vested with something other as to confuse and distract and entrance both parties, Cy would realize later. And only further into their relationships when you knew the person better, and their place in your life became clear, if there was love, if there was hate, if there was deepness of any kind, only then did you understand that the embers of meaning have been present all along and glowing since that first moment you laid eyes on them. As if you already knew them before you came to know them. As if some rift had bent time.” 4 likes
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