5.0 out of 5 stars Completely New York
This book has all the smart and sexy charm of New York city. I was so caught up in the atmosphere of this book that at times I felt as if I was the protagonist, Amy Dickerson. Once I started reading I couldn't but it down until I finished. This is definitely a story that will stay with me forever.
Published on Jan 23 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Repeat of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Readers will be attracted to Mr. Butler's latest effort after being enchanted by 'A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.' However, Fair Warning, while not without merit, does not live up to the Pulitzer prize-winning Good Scent/Strange Mountain.
The stories in Good Scent/Strange Mountain are told from the perspectives of Vietnamese immigrants, both male and female,...
Published on July 16 2002 by V. C. Wald
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4.0 out of 5 stars Butler explores materalism using a female auctioneer...,
This review is from: Fair Warning: A Novel (Paperback)Butler is a writer that seems to enjoy taking challenges, and Fair Warning is no exception. Francis Ford Coppola hired him to write a story about a female auctioneer for a magazine. Later, Butler expanded the story into 225 pages. He does an amazing job writing from a female perspective.
The main character, Amy Dickinson, is the star auctioneer at Nichols and Gray. We follow her as her company is in the process of being sold, and as she begins a relationship with the French businessman who is purchasing the company. Also, at the same time her life seems to be coming together, the lives of her sister and her mother are falling apart. Her sister, who has a picture perfect family, is getting a divorce, and her mother is still dealing with the death of her husband.
But between the development of the plot, Amy describes lots of things. Things she's auctioning, things in her apartment, hands of her lovers, and even cities. (Houston, New York, and Paris.) Butler's description technique is perfect. It's never too over the top, and he uses amazing imagery.
Amy also reflects on what it means to collect things, what it means to own things, what it means to be owned, and what it takes to own yourself.
Fair Warning is definitely a book that will make you think, and perhaps even make you look at your life in a different way.
2.0 out of 5 stars Occasionally nice writing but weak plot,
This review is from: Fair Warning: A Novel (Paperback)There are some great passages in this book, and some interesting dialogue between the main characters. Unfortunately the plot doesn't hold up and the conclusion of the book is pretty unsatisfying.
2.0 out of 5 stars Sappy and cliched story of a female auctioneer,
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done Romance,
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Repeat of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,
The stories in Good Scent/Strange Mountain are told from the perspectives of Vietnamese immigrants, both male and female, living in the United States after the war. Fair Warning is told from the point of view of an attractive, successful young professional woman in modern New York. Neither is the vantage one expects from a white American male. I found this approach astonishing in Good Scent/Strange Mountain, but just entertaining in Fair Warning.
The subject of the latter book is the worthy matter of peoples' relationships to objects of possession. This is potentially its most interesting aspect, but is treated too lightly to be completely fulfilling.
There are moments of wry humor in Fair Warning, but not quite enough to overcome the lack of originality in the characters. I would recommend Fair Warning only as light reading. It is not for the reader seeking emotionally stimulating, thought-provoking literature.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Butler,
The main enjoyment of this novel comes from a character study in the form of its protagonist, Amy Dickerson. She is an auctioneer for a small but prestigious Manhattan auction house. She has a natural ability to read and understand people which makes her very good at her job. She is able to see what people are willing to part with in terms of both money and objects. On the other hand, this ability interferes with her relationships both with her family and her potential lovers. While longing for the ethereal herself, she can only see people's material wants and that includes a person's desire for her. In the end, she must try to see her own desires most clearly and come to peace with them.
This is a nice little book. Butler's prose is quite engaging and the book is short enough to be read at a single sitting. Amy and her relationships do make for a fun glimpse into an upper class New York/Paris world. I was tripped up a bit at the end by Alain's neo-Naked Pictures of My Ex-Girlfriends obsession which seemed a bit of a cheap ruse in an otherwise very emotionally realistic novel. Still, it is certainly worth the time.
1.0 out of 5 stars Has Butler's Muse Gone Brain-dead?,
This is a book of subjective reflection by a two dimensional main character surrounded by other two dimensional charictatures. What would make a reader care for any of these cardboard cutouts? None are developed to the point where they hold interest, much less engender affection or empathy.
If this novel did not appear to hold itself out as a study of interiority and self-reflection -- a devling into the soul of the main character -- perhaps then the lack of depth and nuance would be less irritating. If Butler has decided he now wants to write "romance novels," then he better add some of the juice of "They Whisper." If , on the other hand, he wishes to continue to hold the attention of "literary fiction" readers, I suggest a little more meat on the bones of this very boney effort.
2.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished Author Tries Harlequin Romance,
There is one serious problem, however, that costs this book at least one star: the author's use of language. At one point, Amy says, "Isn't language mostly a matter of naming things?" Is Amy speaking for the author here? I thought novelists used language to evoke emotional responses in their readers. Amy narrates this book; her words carry the story. How would you expect a gal born and raised in Texas cattle country, but now a sophisticated New Yorker, to speak and think? Probably not in six-word sentences spliced together by "and" up to a half page long. Yet, that is the style Butler has adopted for Amy. This "no-style" manner of writing has to be deliberate. It can't be laziness, in a writer this experienced. Did Butler make a bet with a friend regarding who could churn out a novel in the quickest time, or was he playing games with his publisher? Is style out of fashion? I don't get it.
Read this book for the love story. Amy's dilemma may strike a chord in your life.
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely New York,
By A Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars AN INTRIGUING PEEK AT THE RICH AND ACQUISITIVE,
In this sphere of acquisition collectors say, "Yes. Yes. I will embrace these things. I will treasure these things. I will own these things so that I might possess a little of what the world is all about. It is like identity, is it not? I own this thing, therefore I am?"
It is also a world where beautiful, 40-year-old Amy Dickerson reigns as star auctioneer for New York City's most prestigious auction house, Nichols and Gray. Her perception, panache, and palaver enable her to sell an unassuming Renoir for more than twice its value in a business "built on the three 'd's': debt, divorce, and death."
Perhaps Amy's future was determined when as a child in Houston she sold Missy, her 3-year-old sister. She stood before neighborhood children practicing an art she'd learned attending cattle auctions with her father.
"Ladies and gentleman," Amy intoned, "no greater or more complete perfection of animal beauty ever stood on two legs than the little girl who stands before you. She has prize-winning breeding and good teeth..."
Whatever the case, Amy is at the top professionally but still on the first rung in her personal life. With two throw-away lovers in her immediate past she is intrigued by Trevor, he of the dark eyes and recently deceased mother whose apartment is crammed with Victoriana. Yet, there is something unsettling about the man who at the last minute decides he cannot part with his mother's belongings.
Meanwhile, Amy's widowed mother calls and begs Amy to return to Houston to auction all of her father's possessions, items the older woman can no longer bear to look at. This visit causes Amy to reassess her relationship with her father, a tall , broad shouldered cowman who never understood why she didn't remain with him to run the family cattle business. Not only that but she comes to wonder exactly who she is and what she is meant to do. Is Earth simply a place where everyone owns or is owned?
Enter Alain Bouchard, wealthy and exciting Frenchman, who is buying Nichols and Gray and gives every sign that he wishes to obtain Amy as well. He offers her a more than lucrative contract to remain with the auctions house and promises a trip to "his" Paris.
Yet, as with Trevor, Amy eventually senses that Alain may not be the perfect lover after all. Once in his apartment she appraises it with a connoisseur's eye and more - she finds a hidden cache that is both provocative and revealing.
Robert Olen Butler has created a strong, interesting character with Amy. But she is a woman with whom it is hard to empathize. Her tough, cynical exterior belie the notion that she has a heart to be broken.
Nonetheless, Fair Warning is an intriguing peek at the glamorous rich who are propelled by their "shopping pheromones."
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FAIR WARNING by ROBERT OLEN BUTLER (Paperback)
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