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Theft: A Love Story

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3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,665 Ratings  ·  327 Reviews
From the two-time Booker Prize-winning author and recipient of the Commonwealth Prize comes this new novel about obsession, deception, and redemption, at once an engrossing psychological suspense story and a work of highly charged, fiendishly funny literary fiction.

Michael—a.k.a. "Butcher"—Boone is an ex-"really famous" painter: opinionated, furious, brilliant, and now re
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Audio CD, 0 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Tantor Media (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
Georgina
May 12, 2016 Georgina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could say one difference between what is termed literary fiction and commercial fiction is often simply the imaginative depth with which the author animates his or her characters. You get the sense throughout Theft that Carey knows his characters as well as he knows himself. As if he has access to every corner of their memory; knows every leap and retraction of their heart. This imaginative reach makes them tremendously engaging.


Theft is narrated alternatively by two brothers. Michael "Butc
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David
Apr 19, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Apr 18, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rachel
Apr 10, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  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
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Simon Vance

Michael “Butcher” Boone used to be a famous painter. Now, following a messy divorce and a jail term and thanks to the largess of a former patron, he’s living on a remote estate with his developmentally delayed brother, Hugh. One rainy day a beautiful young woman appears at their door in a downpour. Marlene is smart and driven, and also the daughter-in-law of the late Jacques Leibowitz, a painter of world renown, and one of Michael’s early influences. She’s nice
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Darwin8u
Nov 01, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
"How can you know how much to pay if you have no bloody idea of what it's worth?"
-- Peter Carey, Theft

description

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.

Like many of Carey's novels (Ja
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Robert W
Sep 18, 2007 Robert W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Soumen Daschoudhury
May 29, 2015 Soumen Daschoudhury rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Art lovers maybe
I somehow thought, when I had the book in my hands, considering the praises on its cover, that it would be a fun ride, a journey of guffaws and cunning smirks but alas, deceived and dejected! In a single sentence, I didn’t find anything great about the story.

So, Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone is an artist, a cranky profane one, is recently divorced losing a substantial count of his paintings and his child to the “Alimony whore” as he puts it. And Hugh ‘Slow’ Bones is his brother, slow in the mind and
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Johnathan
Apr 26, 2007 Johnathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Svjetlana Tesla
Jul 01, 2016 Svjetlana Tesla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dosadnije knjige nisam citala ....
James Murphy
Aug 17, 2009 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 02, 2011 Arianna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Nick
Oct 07, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-booker, australia
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.
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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
Jan 23, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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Susan
Oct 24, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ron Charles
Nov 15, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-about-art
Peter Carey has a problem with telling the truth. And in one magnificent novel after another, he struggles to solve it. His criminal narrators in Jack Maggs and True History of the Kelly Gang plead their cases even as condemnation crashes down upon them. In My Life as a Fake , an act of literary fraud takes human form like Frankenstein's monster and pursues its creator to the ends of the earth.

Given his devious trajectory, a novel about modern art seems like an inevitable destination for Carey.
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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
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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 did not like it  ·  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
Jean
Jan 03, 2015 Jean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I liked: 1) TWO unreliable narrators relating their versions of this tragi-comic tale (an Australian artist five years "out of style," and his mentally challenged brother.) 2) The author's ironic take on the wacky world of artists, collectors, agents, appraisers. 3) The rather intriguing twists of the art theft.

What I didn't like: 1)Having to interpret the Australian vernacular and the obtuse ramblings of the mentally damaged narrator. I had to re-read often to get the gist. 2)What really p
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Ben
Mar 21, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, artists
Probably every writer has one overriding obsession, a theme he can’t help returning to in every novel. Carey’s is national identity. He’s always trying to work out what it is to be Australian. It’s as if he doesn’t quite believe Australians have a reliable identity and his characters are ceaselessly driven to either establish one or rage against its absence. Here Carey is at his cleverest wrestling with this theme. He uses art forgery to explore the theme of cultural and personal authenticity or ...more
Gerald
Jun 04, 2012 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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PattyMacDotComma
I'd forgotten about this book. I remember it was well written (well, what would you expect from Peter Carey), but I don't remember being terribly impressed with the story. I'm not a big fan, I'm afraid.
Mag
Aug 05, 2010 Mag rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sharon Bakar
Enjoyed Peter Carey's Theft: A Love Story so much that I wasn't able to pick up another book for days.
The story is told in alternating chapters by two brothers - renown artist Michael Boone (aka 'Butcher Bones') and his idiot-savante brother, Hugh ('Slow Bones').

Recently released from prison where he was sent for trying to steal his own paintings from his ex-wife (and here is where the alimony whore comes in) he is installed in a country house by his 'sponsor' and begins to make some of the be
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Tom O'brien
Apr 02, 2014 Tom O'brien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Carinya Kappler
Mar 16, 2014 Carinya Kappler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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“About her husband, i did actually enquire, but she held her private life so fucking tightly, like a tourist clutching a handbag on the A train,..” 2 likes
“All Butcher's previous politeness was revealed as so much bad milk floating in a cup of welcome tea...” 0 likes
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