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Theft: A Love Story Paperback – May 8 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (May 8 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679314644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679314646
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #445,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Two-time Booker-winner Carey (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang) returns with a magnificent high-stakes art heist wrapped around a fraternal saga. Butcher Boone is an all-id all-the-time Australian painter of enormous talent and renown. Now divorced and bankrupted by his former wife, who tired of his excesses, Butcher has been reduced to caretaking a remote estate for his largest collector. And since the deaths of his working-class parents, he has also been saddled with his beloved, bedeviling brother, Hugh, who, like Butcher, has a primarily pugilistic relationship with the world. One rain-flooded night, a chic young woman knocks on their door, having lost her way. She is Marlene, wife of Olivier Leibovitz, son and heir to an early 20th-century master. Soon the brothers are embroiled in an international crime investigation that eventually comprises forgery, vast sums of money and murder. None of this, however, distracts Butcher from his overpowering love affair with Marlene, which threatens to leave Hugh stranded in an unforgiving world. Scenes in Australia, Japan and New York feature unique forms of fleecing, but setting and action are icing on the emotional core of Carey's newest masterwork. 75,000 announced first printing. (May 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Twice a Booker Prize winner, Carey creates a whole new world in each novel, and nearly a new language, so fresh and transfixing are the voices of his narrators. And yet he has his signal preoccupations, primary among them a fascination with the demonic side of creativity and questions of authenticity and fakery, concerns that come to the fore in this barbed, intriguing art caper. Michael Boone, known in his small Australian hometown of Bacchus Marsh as Butcher in acknowledgment of his father's trade, surpassed expectations and became a famous painter until he landed in prison. Just out, he's working feverishly, determined not to be distracted by Hugh, his somewhat frightening brother, or sexy, enigmatic Marlene. Hugh--a big, blustering, bumbling, and passionate fellow not quite right in the head yet plenty intelligent in his own way (he and Butcher alternate as narrators)--is his brother's albatross, and, perhaps, saving grace. Marlene turns out to be a cutthroat mastermind who gets the three of them into all kinds of complicated trouble. Carey is at his satirical best as he mocks the venality of the international art market, and at his most tender in his spirited portrayal of daring misfits who fled the confines of working-class life "half mad with joy" once they discovered the transformative power of art. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Peter Carey structures his novels so carefully, building up your alliances, affections and aversions to his characters so that you become totally ensnared. Two brothers are the focus of this work, both fiercely Australian, both burdened in different ways. Their common love for an enigmatic (too good to be true, too true to be good?) woman is used to build up to a classic Carey conclusion where all of the emotions he has carefully used to link you to his characters are ripped from you. Carey makes you doubt the trust that he made you form for his characters, and when he reveals whether or not this trust was worthy, it is an extraordinary reading experience. What is real love? This novel may show you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa4424108) out of 5 stars 58 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01c3c00) out of 5 stars Can't We Claim Mr. Carey As One Of Our Own? May 13 2006
By Foster Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Peter Carey continues his theme of artistic fraud and deception that he wrote about in his last novel MY LIFE AS A FAKE in THEFT: A LOVE STORY, his latest tour de force. Michael (Butcher) Boone, a once successful Australian painter, is recently divorced and down and out when he meets the magical and beautiful Marlene Lieboviz, who is married to the son of he famous painter Jacques Liebovitz. What follows is a page-turner that is at once the account of a passionate obsession-- Michael and Marlene's-- familial loyalty-- Michael and his "damaged" brother Hugh's-- as well as a tale of intrigue that spans Australia, Japan, the United States and Germany.

Mr. Carey tells his story from the alternating viewpoints of Butcher and his brother Hugh in language that is dense, accurate and often beautiful beyond description. Anyone who has ever ridden in a New York cab will recognize this truth: "The taxis in New York are a total nightmare. I don't know how anybody tolerates them, and I am not complaining about the eviscerated seats, the s----- shock absorbers, the suicidal lefthand turns, but rather the common faith of all those Malaysian Sikhs, Bengali Hindus, Harlem Muslims, Lebanese Christians, Coney Island Russians, Brooklyn Jews, Buddhists, Zarathustrians-- who knows what?--all of them with rock-solid conviction that if you honk your bloody horn the sea will part before you." (p. 194.)Australian petty law enforcement types are described as "midgets of officialdom" who swarm "like a white-ant hatch." Finally Mr. Carey through the voice of Michael, piles paragraph upon paragraph, much as the artist applies layers of paint on his canvases, of beautiful descriptions of Marlene, often in terms of color as you would expect from a painter: "Her eyes. They were what is called baby blue, that is the precise colour of a baby's eyes before the melanin arrives and here was a pleasure even greater than her taut young skin, a clear view of her naked soul-- a deep kind of transparency without a single speck or flaw or smut."

Mr. Carey is one of a handful of writers whose next novel I eagerly await. To read him is to experience the sheer joy of language. After the horrific events of 9/11, Mr. Carey, who now lives in New York City, wrote an eloquent essay about both that city and the U. S. Can't we just claim him as one of our own?
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01c3c24) out of 5 stars "Artists are used to humiliation. We start with it and we are always ready to return to real failure." May 31 2006
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey writes his most dazzling novel yet, a send-up of the art world, filled with satire about dealers, auction houses, compulsive collectors, forgers, conservators and technicians, art researchers, catalogue writers, and even the artists themselves. At the same time, he also creates two splendid characters through whose limited vision this world is viewed--Michael "Butcher" Boone, a formerly successful Australian avant-garde artist, now experiencing hard times, and his "slow" brother Hugh, a 220-pound giant with little control over his emotions and a penchant for breaking the little fingers of annoying people.

Butcher, recently released from prison after trying to steal back his own paintings, which were declared "marital assets" during a nasty divorce, is now living in northern New South Wales, as caretaker for the property of his biggest collector. He is also the full-time caretaker of his brother, "Hugh the Poet and Hugh the Murderer, Hugh the Idiot Savant."

When Butcher rescues Marlene Leibovitz from her partially submerged car during a flood, the "chance" meeting has long-range consequences. Marlene is the wife of Olivier Leibovitz, son of Jacques Leibovitz, a world-class artist whose paintings are nearly priceless. She has the power to authenticate Leibovitz paintings (the "droit moral") and effectively controls the Liebovitz market as undocumented paintings surface. She has arrived to document the "Leibovitz" belonging to Butcher's next door neighbor, a painting which promptly disappears.

The involvement of Butcher in a complex scheme to defraud is told in alternating chapters by Butcher and Hugh, whose limited "take" on the characters and action leads to hilarious commentary, which is often more astute and realistic than that of his brother. Butcher, devoted to his artwork, and eventually to Marlene, is a brawling innocent, totally over his head in the international art circles in which he moves in Tokyo and New York, following a sellout show of his work arranged by Marlene. Butcher's narrative reveals his obvious ignorance of the details of the Leibovitz art fraud, increasing the irony and humor and developing suspense about Marlene's intentions.

When the increased financial stakes lead to murder, the complexity of the art fraud is revealed to the reader--and to Butcher. The final chapter, almost an Afterword, gives new meaning to the word "irony." Theft is brilliantly constructed, and in Butcher and Hugh, Carey creates two characters the reader cares about. The art world and its rarified atmosphere are subjected to Carey's rapier wit, and the humor and satire are non-stop. Well known for his word play and sense of the absurd, Carey has outdone himself with this novel, a continuation of the themes he began in My Life as a Fake--and a new comic masterpiece. n Mary Whipple
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01cc774) out of 5 stars My Stolen Heart Dec 9 2006
By Sharon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The story is told in alternating chapters by two brothers - renown artist Michael Boone (aka 'Butcher Bones') and his idiot-savante brother, Hugh ('Slow Bones').

Recently released from prison where he was sent for trying to steal his own paintings from his ex-wife (and here is where the alimony whore comes in) he is installed in a country house by his 'sponsor' and begins to make some of the best art of his life. Across huge canvasses he splashes fire and brimstone texts remembered from his violent and abusive childhood, the full scale of which only gradually becomes apparent.

And then one stormy night there walks into his life (in her Manolo Blahniks - important detail) a beautiful young woman who claims to have lost her way. Marlene is the wife of Oliver Leibovitz, son of one of the greatest artists of the century. She's also an accomplised art thief and con-woman. Both brothers fall in love with her ... which fits into her plans just nicely. And thus begins a rollicking tale of art theft and deception which moves from Australia to New York via Tokyo.

Love-story, thriller, comedy ... the novel is all of these. But the greatest strength of the novel is the depiction of the complicated love-hate relationship between the brothers. The interplay of voices is excellent, and the way the two accounts give sometimes contradictory views of events, the "truth" of things falling somewhere between them. Hugh may not be the full shilling, but he is certainly astute and in many ways sees the world more clearly than his brother. I love the way his talk is peppered with phrases picked up from everyone else and is full of malapropisms.

The research for the book seems authoratitive - I knew little beforehand about how the art world works, or how artists feel about their work becoming an item of commerce, or how painting might be forged ... and certainly now I feel interested to learn more.

I love the energy and drive of the writing. One reviewer described the prose as "muscular" and I like that. But the language has a rugged poetry too, particularly during when describing the artist working. We can see the finished canvases and know why they are so brilliant, through the words.

Theft reminds me of a couple of other novels I've enjoyed: Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (the episode of the dead puppy, Hugh's capacity for sudden violence and the murder at the end - I'm certain this is a reference Carey means us to pick up!), and Headlong by Michael Frayn (also about shady dealings in the art world and very funny). And then of course Carey's there are echoes earlier novels, particularly My Life as a Fake which also tackled the theme of forgery, and True History of the Kelly Gang in the way that Carey recreates the voice of Ned Kelly so brilliantly. And there's Carey's siding all the way with the rascal, the fraudster, the thief, and making us love him too.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4424e28) out of 5 stars An excellent read July 12 2006
By Wilson Morcom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Peter Carey is a truly original writer with a wonderful capacity to bring a new and unique perspective to his story telling (Ned Kelly, Oscar and Lucinda etc). He seems to use his subject matter to explore his Australian background and the place of the country in the world, but in a manner that should not alienate readers from other parts of the world. It has been noted that Theft includes a thinly veiled reference to his marital woes. It was refreshing to hear the idiomatic speech of the characters.

I personally preferred The Kelly Gang, but this is an excellent book that is well researched and written. My only quibble is that they are more likely to play rugby (First XIII (League) or XV (Union)) than Australian Rules Football (First XVIII) in Bellingen.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa45c3660) out of 5 stars A dazzling, entertaining romp. July 5 2009
By David M. Giltinan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The more I read of Peter Carey, the better I like him. I found "Oscar and Lucinda" tough sledding. "My life as a Fake" explored some interesting ideas, but wasn't altogether successful, in my opinion. In "Theft", Carey revisits some of the themes which clearly continue to interest him - Australian art and literature, and how they are perceived both within and outside Australia. "My Life as a Fake" dealt with literature and made obvious reference to the infamous "Ern Malley" literary hoax of the 1940's. In "Theft", Carey considers the issue of fakery in the art world, in a story that shifts between Australia, Tokyo, and the art world of Manhattan in the 1980's.

"My Life as a Fake" didn't soar as one might have wished - in part because Carey sometimes bogged down in the complexities of an overly laden plot, and in part because it was hard for the reader (at least this reader) to share his fascination with the repercussions of the Ern Malley episode on Australian literature. In "Theft", he is far more sure-footed, and though the plot is also quite convoluted, he develops the story in a compulsively readable fashion. The reader is swept along by the story, the brilliantly drawn, idiosyncratic characters, and by Carey's wonderful language right up to the jarring (and absolutely brilliant) conclusion.

The book reminded me of the recent film bombon (I mean that as a compliment), the wonderful "Duplicity", with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, which also kept the viewer guessing throughout, but which the director and actors pulled off with tremendous style and humor. It was hugely entertaining, without ever condescending to the viewer.

"Theft" has that same lighthearted verve, and Carey's terrific writing and obvious love of language made it a joy to read. On the cover blurb of my copy, Ali Smith calls it "a funny, gorgeous steal of a book", and I agree completely.

Five stars.

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