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The Exquisite

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  15 reviews

“Strange, original, and utterly brilliant—Laird Hunt is one of the most talented young writers on the American scene today.”—Paul Auster

Henry, a New Yorker left destitute by circumstance and obsession, is plucked from vagrancy by a shadowy outfit whose primary business is arranging for staged murders of anxiety-ridden clients unhinged by the “events downtown” and seeking t
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Coffee House Press (first published 2006)
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Jun 26, 2007 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Absurdist fiction fiends
The Exquisite belongs to a rare class of literary fiction that puts a premium on mood while delivering a surprisingly compelling read. The novel's back cover declares it "an East Village Noir," which vastly overstates the case: The Exquisite lacks the terse dialogue, spastic gunplay, and intricate plotting that are the hallmarks of the genre. Instead, we're presented with an unusual friendship between a hapless thief named Henry and Mr. Kindt, an older gentleman with a passion for herring who ma ...more
Richard Thomas
I was leaning 3 stars, but it had a fantastic ending, and I finally understood it all. This is a very strange book, surreal, and not firmly grounded in reality, but then, at times, it is. A wild ride, with moments of brilliance. As for the "bizarro" aspect I'd say it leans more towards surreal than bizarre.
Reminded me a bit of David Lynch except for the fact that it wasn't bad and was meant to be understood.
Val Killpack
Implacable, elegant, and sublime

This is one of those books I want to quote a passage from. But, then, I realise to quote only one passage is a great disservice, and that I must, in fact, quote the entire book. I will ask you to sit down, now, and even force you--knock you out if necessary--and we will start at the beginning, (or so it seems...)

In a post-9/11 NYC, this novel surfs the shattered psyche of one Henry and his loosening grasp on reality. Henry's self fractures into separate narratives
Marcus Mennes
The terms noir and mystery are likely to be affixed to this book, and its mood belongs to the genre. It is foremost a work of literary fiction, meaning a type of storytelling where the emphasis is placed more on the way of telling - the language, imagery, verbal stunts, metaphors, and various linguistic tropes - then on the story itself and its delivery.

The narrative, in fact, is strictly non-linear, abstract, and confusing...deliberately so, which adds to the overall stylistic effect of Mr. Hun
This was an interesting book. It is a book about Henry and seems to be about his slide in and out of reality post 9/11 and how he coped after that in a sense. Or it just happened to be set post 9/11, which Henry describes as "the events downtown."

Henry meets up with a Mr. Kindt, who hires him to do fake murders for hire. The book parallels this along with Henry's stay in what seems to be some sort of institution and the choice for the reader is which is the reality.

It's all told from Henry's poi
A curious dreamlike book about a man who may or may not be a killer, who may or may not be sane. He is taken in by an odd assortment of New Yorkers and one thing gradually leads to other things.
Brent Legault
Oct 18, 2007 Brent Legault rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: city-dwellers, romantic fools
Throughout my reading of this novel, I felt envy and chagrin that I had not written it myself. Many was the time I thought Laird Hunt had stolen my magic-lantern dreams somehow and through some authorial alchemy distilled them into the words that made up this book. (By dreams I mean not the nighttime Punch and Judy shows but the daytime cloud-bubbles of grandeur.) If there is a reason I did not rate this book five stars it is because I am still not sure that he didn't.
An interesting, literary noir with an unreliable narrator who takes you on a wild mind ride. It's post 9-11 and Henry is involved in an interesting enterprise, staging false murders for those who want the thrill of being targets. But what's real and what's part of Henry's imagination.
If David Lynch impregnated Paul Auster, or vise versa, and the no-doubt prodigiously coifed offspring, inspired by W.G. Sebald's THE RINGS OF SATURN, were to write a novel set in New York's East Village, this would be it. Funny, atmospheric and just kind a cool.
Similar in ways to 'The Impossibly', also by Laird Hunt, and one of the most interesting and strage books I've ever read. This one is less opaque, although there is still ambiguity as to what truly happened and what is truly going on.
Nov 18, 2008 Michelle is currently reading it
Really like the noir style of the book so far. There is a clever shifting between chapters that keeps the reader interested and yet isn't gimicy at all. Look forward to reading more.
i really liked this book, especially as i lived in the same neighborhood where the action takes place. It's like a contemporary Chandler in the east village.
A- Real quality work from Laird; I am VERY impressed. A bit of a wacky plot but totally engaging and I really, really enjoyed it! :)
Dustin Kurtz
I'm sure Laird Hunt can do wrong, but I've yet to be witness to it.
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