Me and Kaminski: A Novel Hardcover – Nov 18 2008
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Praise for MEASURING THE WORLD
"A masterfully realized, wonderfully entertaining and deeply satisfying novel. . . . Addictively readable and genuinely and deeply funny."
—Los Angeles Times
"Kehlmann's lightly surreal style [is] a mixture of comedy, romance and the macabre, with flashes of magical realism that read like Borges in the Black Forest."
—Washington Post Book World
"Elegant and measured in design and expression. . . . What distinguishes Kehlmann are quickness of mind and lightness of touch."
—The New York Times Book Review
Praise from Germany for ME AND KAMINSKI
"Kehlmann is a consummate storyteller, assured in tone, with masterful control over the storyline. . . . Ravishing,"
"I haven't laughed so hard reading a new German novel for a long time. . . . This young author writes fiction with great refinement and sparkling wit. The plot is strong and the dialogue totally hilarious."
"Kehlmann has never given his satiric temperament such free rein. Me and Kaminski is absolutely his funniest book. And his most adventurous."
About the Author
Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich and now lives in Vienna. He has received major awards for his work, most recently the 2005 Candide Award. He was the writer-in-residence at New York University's Deutsches Haus in 2006.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Overall I enjoyed the novel but it's probably not for everyone, it will take some thinking and appreciation. It's carefully written, not much is by accident, for example the hitchhiker, Karl Ludwig, infers that a painting is the work of the devil, and likewise it's hard to escape the Faustian nature of the story, is Kaminski really the devil who had made a bargain with Sebastian? There is more of this type of symbolism for those who wish to find depth beyond the surface story, it rewards contemplation which is the mark of good piece of art. Of course, that is the same thing the novel is about: like Kaminski's painting of mirrors facing mirrors, the novel is evaluating art while we the reader are evaluating the novel as art! In this 110 page book the word "mirror" is used 31 times, it's a reflection of a reflection. The American/UK book covers don't "reflect" it but the original German cover shows a mirror on the cover, it's unfortunate the American/UK publishers missed this central theme.
On the back cover, one German reviewer wrote that he hadn't "Laughed so hard reading a new German novel for a long time . . . "
A book reviewer for THE WASHINGTON POST'S BOOK WORLD mentioned that Kehlmann wrote in a "lightly surreal style . . . with flashes of magical realism . . ."
I don't know what book those people were reading. I didn't laugh. Not even once. I guess German humor is very deep. It is so deep I couldn't find it. Was this a decent novel? Yes. It strikes at the pretentiousness of false pride, focusing on pretensions in the art world & how truth is bent by scoop seeking journalists.
In this book, conniving art journalists are being out-connived by the conniving artists they are seeking to scoop. Is that humorous? Perhaps. Yet, the writing is more deadly serious than sarcastically humorous. In the end, it's the reader who gets totally fooled by a great O'Henryesque finale.
If allowed, this book would be receiving 2.5 stars instead of 3. But, half-stars are not allowed.
Perhaps, in the hand of a deft director this would make a good comic movie?
This novel bears a resemblance to Henry James' "Aspern Papers," a work featuring a similarly prying journalist who is brought at length to see, though from a less overtly philosophical perspective, his own emptiness. Zollner realizes after his fruitless quest for ownership of Kaminski's life an undeniable similarity to the experience of the follower of an Eastern sage mentioned earlier in the novel, the discovery that he finally has "nothing" and should even give that "nothing" up.
"Me and Kaminski" is a novel that has been carefully "written;" nothing in its series of interviews and madcap adventures is by chance. As such, it is a tale whose events are radiant with meaning, and, consequently, one which merits rereading.
You get a hint that Kaminski might have some redeeming qualities, but he disappears early on, and we get a horrendously kludgy sequence of interviews between "me" and Kaminski's vile acquaintances. So you get a one dimensional portrait of several uninteresting characters going on for page-after-page. That's when I gave up.
The language of the novel matches the characters -- boring and vapid. Maybe the translator is at fault, though she can be forgiven. It must have been boring translating the "adventures" of such a banal character.
The author completed a doctorate on Kant and the sublime, so you might have expected "me" to react in some way to the sublime in art. But all you get is "me" treating art analysis like an exercise in the lowest form of hack journalism. Which I guess is showing you the opposite of the sublime. But you don't get any hint of what the sublime in art might really be about. Maybe that's covered in the second half of the novel, but the total lack of sublimity in the first half made this seem unlikely to me. So I bailed.