Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: "Me and Kaminski" by Daniel Kehlmann

Of all the new writers I have read this year, the one that sticks out the most is Daniel Kehlmann. His novel Fame reminded me a lot of an early Auster book, like The New York Trilogy or Moon Palace. It had that same kind of intellectual mystery at the heart of its story that you may or may not have gotten an answer to by the end of the book. It was a very cool read and I put Kehlmann high on my list when I rearranged what I was going to be reading this year. So, going in reverse, his second novel to be published in English, Me and Kaminski, for the most part very good and much in the same category of Fame, with less metaphysical implications. The narrator, Sebastian Zollner, a failed art crtici looking to make a quick buck by writing a biography of obscure artist Manuel Kaminski right at the time he is supposed to die, comes to represent the worst kind intellectual: one who decries cheating, stealing, and producing what they see as terrible work, but never applies that same rule to himself in both his professional and personal life. He is quite the scoundrel, and when he finally sets foot in the life and family of Kaminski, we are definitely not on his side. But Kaminski himself has other plans, and he turns out to be very sneaky in teaching Zollner a much-needed lesson. The last half of the book is kind of like a road novel with a few slip-ups, such as a trip to one art gallery that I was not interested in, but it ends quite swell with a knife like twist in the life of Zollner that adds a bit of clarity to his situation. A little dry for an art novice like myself, but a pleasure to read nonetheless.
Rating: 4/5

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