Mike Hart's Reviews > The Autograph Man

The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
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's review
May 25, 2012

liked it

I read White Teeth and On Beauty in college, loving both. I always heard The Autograph Man received poor reviews - Smith's sophomore slump for the alliterative. While her second novel doesn't quite meet expectations given her first and third, I still enjoyed reading it, even if it ran a little too long. I like to judge books by great quotations I can pull from them. I have two from this work:

"But he was tortured by the idea that she would grow old! He understood that in all likelihood this sort of thinking would lead him to die lonely, without anyone. He told himself the story that this was the great tragedy of his heart. The great tragedy of his heart was that it always needed to be told a story."

"They stopped at the traffic lights. The larger part of Alex had always stood resistant to any story in which he was not the victim, but now the stone rolled away from the mouth of the cave and he looked in. an indigo parade of memories went by with the cross traffic, snapshots of a passionate, difficult friendship, performed almost entirely in gesture over the years (as two boys in a red bathroom, bent over a sink of developing photographs; as teenagers, pressing up against the purple velvet rope outside a cinema, clutching the brass posts, waiting for a star; as men, turning simultaneously the pages of two green leather-bound albums, exchanging this for that and back again). In all these reminiscences Joseph seemed in the edge of the frame, with his hands open, waiting for something to come to him. All that had happened these last few years was that these gestures grew further apart, less frequent and, consequently, more violent. Photographs to end the film."

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