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The Made-Up Man

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Stanley had known it was a mistake to accept his uncle Lech’s offer to apartment-sit in Prague—he’d known it was one of Lech’s proposals, a thinly veiled setup for some invasive, potentially dangerous performance art project. But whatever Lech had planned for Stanley, it would get him to Prague and maybe offer a chance to make things right with T after his failed attempt ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Michael Ferro
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My full review is now up at Fiction Writers Review:

This is a very thought-provoking and interesting novel!
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa
In many ways, Scapellato's debut novel isn't unlike "The Third Hotel", but while Van den Berg meditates about impulse, intuition and the subconscious, this author walks the line between art and the artifical. Our narrator is a 29-year-old Polish-American named Stanley who just dropped out of grad school for archaeology and is "on a break" with his mysteriously named girlfriend T after he proposed to her and she said no. While he has obviously never been the most determined human being there is, ...more
David Peak
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An endlessly inventive existential noir, in which Stanley, an archaeology student and Polish American, volunteers to be the subject of a performance art piece about his own life. Much fascinating territory is covered, including authenticity, performance, cultural and personal identity, gender, the excavation of history, and ultimately the concept of America itself. At times the unsettling absurdity recalls Kafka, other times Elkin, though more often than not it reads as purely original.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm typically hard to win over when it comes to more experimental styles, but I really thought the book balanced the off-kilter, absurd aspects with a very resonant, engaging narrative. I dug the existentialism, the surrealism of the performance art troupe and the cognitive disassociation with Stanley's sense of self, but more than that, the interpersonal relationships (his friends and family, his dig cohorts, and especially his ex-girlfriend, T) were built with an incredible amount of depth and ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, humour, noir
The Made-up Man is a disjointed work of fiction in the genre existential noir. The protagonist Stanley is a confused and depressed individual who decides to take a break from his current meaningless life. The Made-up Man is Joseph Scapellato’s debut novel.

Stanley is a 29-year-old Polish-American who drops out of grad school in archaeology. He is having difficulty with his girlfriend T to whom he proposes and she says no. Stanley now feels lost, so he accepts an offer from his uncle Lech to
Cori Arnold
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Cori reflects at almost every chapter how she might sum up the confusing experience it is reading this book and how she could possibly convey her thoughts into a few pithy sentences in goodreads while also thinking about how much her library fines are gathering while “The Made-up Man” sits on her nightstand and coffee table gathering dust.

I finished this book.

Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
My review for the Chicago Tribune:

In “The Simple Art of Murder,” his 1950 essay on the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction, Raymond Chandler writes that the figure of the detective “must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor.”

In his debut novel, an experimental and existential noir called “The Made-Up Man,” Joseph Scapellato offers readers a detective who is a confused
Jan 09, 2019 added it
Shelves: giveaway-s
I am not the target audience. Navel-gazing at it's most affected. Received this book in a GoodReads giveaway. Did not know what an existential noir is even without the inclusion of absurdist comedy. Don't know what that is either. This book and it's characters, storyline, etc. come across as elitist. I don't like anyone here, they all seem awful in their own individual ways - who knew there were so many ways to be unlikable. Rather than seeming to be a man with a foot in both worlds, Stanley is ...more
Michael Wagner
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The made-up man becomes actual.

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a stranger, with little more than the blurbs on the back-cover to hint at it's content. Those hints promised hilarity, dread and originality. While I can't say that the book delivers on all fronts, I also can't say it fails to deliver.

The Made-Up Man is a modern take on absurdist fiction with it's dark humor, unconventional plot structure and surreal circumstances. Stanley is the quintessential conflicted youth
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in return for a honest review.

The premise of this book was very intriguing.
Stanley, an archaeology graduate dropout, decided to take his uncle Lech's offer to apartment-sit for him at Prague knowing that he will be the main star of his uncle's next performance art project.
I can't bring myself to like this book or any of the characters. The decisions and actions Stanley made throughout the book were very confusing and baseless. He just seems
Justin Hall
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First thanks to fsgbooks for getting myself and the @drunkbookpod set up with this book! Now for my #endtablebookreview !!
What an wild ride. Joseph had me at his first book #biglonesome and this new novel does not disappoint! Stanley thinks he is just house sitting in Prague but he is really a part of a terrifying art installation of his uncles creation. He keeps running into made up men and some made up women made up to be men made up to be women.(prett good example of the book in that
Matt Wainwright
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I hate giving this book two stars but I just didn't care about any of the characters enough to get into the book. I admire the unique and original style of writing that Scapellato has used in this book and would definitely read subsequent books. Overall, I feel like this is one of those books that you will either love or strongly dislike, however strongly dislike is a bit too harsh for my rating. Give it 40 pages to see if you are grabbed by the characters. If so, you'll love it. If not....well, ...more
Angela Ablaberdieva
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
Note: I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.
This book follows Stanley, a onetime archaeology student, as he apartment sits for his Uncle Lech in Prague. Uncle Lech happens to be an unethical performance artist; hijinks ensue. When I started reading, I was sure I wasn't going to be able to make it all the way through. Scapellato, the author, has an MFA, and his writing is a bit... let's say "intellectual." However, as I continued reading, I found myself warming up to his
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the different writing style, and overall think the characters are well written, but this book didn't really do it for me. I had no idea what existential noir is, but thought the synopsis sounded good. I guess I was expecting a little more to happen with the main character and I just don't really "get" all the performance art or what the point of it was, Lech just seems like a weirdo to me. It's definitely a creative story and I think will appeal to others that like stories in this ...more
Chelsea Voulgares
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the most inventive novel I’ve read in a long time, and it’s also incredibly funny. (I laughed out loud a number of times while reading it.)

The plot lines and characters border on the absurd, and at times the book is challenging. I think it would appeal to readers who enjoy authors such as Mark Leyner, Kathy Acker, Franz Kafka, and David Foster Wallace.

Winthrop Smith
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A writer to read as a reader. A writer to read as a writer.

Looking for a novel which you wish continued so that it took up a month rather than a week? For me, this is one. Curve balls, art, artists, relationships, a central mystery which isn't a detective one.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A unique writing style and an enigmatic story - an entertaining read.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book was too avante garde for me, but I finished it. None of the characters in this book are particularly likable, which made it even harder to be enthused by the fragmented story.
Grayham Forsythe-Fields
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dark and relentless. A note taking style. Neet and a little grotty at the same time. Makes me want to see performing art projects.

Caleb Michael Sarvis
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review coming to the Drunken Book Review Podcast.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Scapellato at a local reading. Really great guy, really phenomenal book. Definitely not the book for everyone--very quirky and existentialist, which I could see annoying people who are turned off by angsty contemplation. But I loved it.
Ryan Hayes
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May 20, 2019
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Jun 21, 2019
David Miller
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Oct 31, 2018
Steve Erickson
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Feb 28, 2019
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Nov 02, 2018
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Nicky Emery
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Joseph Scapellato is the author of the story collection BIG LONESOME (2017) and the novel THE MADE-UP MAN (2019).

His work appears in North American Review, Kenyon Review Online, Post Road, Unsaid, and other magazines, and has been anthologized in Gigantic Books' Gigantic Worlds and &NOW's Best Innovative Writing.

Joseph teaches as an assistant professor in the Creative Writing program at