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Portrait of the Writer as a Domesticated Animal

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  49 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
In Portrait of the Writer as a Domesticated Animal, the narrator accepts a job writing a laudatory authorized biography of a fast-food magnate, whose egotism borders on megalomania. She thus enters a world of call girls, celebrities, investment portfolios, and bitter rivalries, where the desire to dominate others motivates every decision. Quickly seduced, she takes to all ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published February 26th 2010 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published August 1st 2007)
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MJ Nicholls
This uproarious satire on a writer who sells her soul to work for a corporate slimeball is a sublime parable on the plight of the modern scribe—to sell out one’s radical avant-garde principles to buy bread and soap, or keep one’s cred among the three or four readers of your work so posterity will judge you kindly? To be Richard or Gwyn from The Information? There are some deluded people like Nick Hornby or Jonathan Coe who believe it acceptable to write bestsellers and introduce some reader-frie ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
the narrator is hired to ghost-write the autobiography of Tobold the Hamburger King. a kind of steve ballmer larry ellison dick cheney rupert murdoch lex luthor mashup. full of spot-on recognitions. and while it doesn't do so much to complicate the archetype and plot of the amoral and ruthless capitalist (of course born in poverty, self-made, lonely-at-the-top), it does provide a sharp insight into the artist class's response: servility, impotence, hypocrisy and envy.

the last third disappoints i
Jan 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, translations
As much as I love this premise, and engaging as the characters are, there's a narrative distance that kept me from getting invested. Most of the story is told in generalized description, with few material or immediate moments, which prevented those engaging characters from becoming physically embodied and their actions from developing much urgency. That kept me at arm's length to a frustrating degree, even though it seemed intentional because Salvayre's narrator says early on:
I who had always pr
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I chose this book because Lydia Salvayre won the Prix Goncourt this year, and I couldn't find "Pas Pleurer" in English. This is the story told by an aspiring literary writer who takes a job -- an extremely well-paying one with lots of perks -- as the official biographer of the Hamburger King, one of world's richest businessmen. The first three chapters are so funny I was laughing out loud: "My neck was terribly sore from the leash and my mind was worn out from hearing him ask me, Did you get tha ...more
Carol Balawyder
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever thought you'd like to write someone's biography you should read this book first. It might make you think twice.
Lydie Salvayre's satire of a broke writer who decides to take a job writing Tobold The Hamburger King's biography for the "secret fascination for the luxurious pleasures that Tobold's riches granted me".
I've read almost every book by Lydie Salvayre and always enjoy her humorous choice of vocabulary. Example: spineless acts of servility; Tobold The Hamburger King was nothi
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
A modern-day "Rise of Silas Lapham," with modern-day cynicism attached, and a sense of humor and wit William Dean Howells was incapable of. . . The book's conceit: a between-novels writer is hired by a billionaire (a cross between Gates and Trump, and probably a few others) to write his "gospel." High-minded art meets the crassest of business drives, although the artist is in no position to argue, so sparks never really fly outside of the writer's on livid imagination. (I'm being vague because I ...more
Christophe Jung
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Le milliardaire Tobol est dépeint avec beaucoup de vulgarité, sans aucune finesse. Beaucoup d’exagération, la grossièreté de ce milliardaire, toujours dépeinte sans grande invention, finit par lasser le lecteur. Ce qui nuit finalement à ce contraste que l’auteur voudrait donner avec elle-même, avec ses pensées d’intellectuelle distinguée obligée d’écrire la bio d’un bouffon qu’elle exècre.
Du coup, le sujet, qui s’annonce au début jubilatoire, n’existe plus. On se perd dans une énumération de fa
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Although I really like Lydie Salvayre's style and although this book was nicely and ingeniously written,I felt like most of the time she was circling around one single idea. If this novel was a short story, it could've been a good one. I seriously think she didn't have enough 'material'for a novel.
Feb 10, 2011 added it
Shelves: 2011
A pulpy, mean little story about a literary novelist who becomes the ghost writer for a fast food magnate's "gospel." If you wanted to be charitable you could call it a dialectic between Art and Commerce, but the satirical elements don't always work, the ending is rushed, and the characters (as rendered by the narrator, who often circumvents introspection by making jokes) are cartoons.
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The dilemmas of a ghost writer hired to produce the “gospel” of a food industry mogul: wry and quite entertaining. Translated into English under the title: Portrait of the Writer as a Domesticated Animal.
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Read every fifth chapter, you'll get the beat.
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Lydie Salvayre is a French writer. Born in the south of France to Republican refugees from the Spanish Civil War, she went on to study medicine in Toulouse and continues to work as a practicing psychiatrist. She has been awarded both the Prix Hermes and the Prix Novembre for her work.
She won the Prix Goncourt 2014 for her novel Pas Pleurer.
More about Lydie Salvayre
“Time are vulgar, I told myself in the prudish and bombastic tone of those who believe themselves to be exempt from the criticisms they throw at others.” 0 likes
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