"The serpentine plot is a brain-squeezing beauty, cunningly elaborated ... But it's the author's mastery of details of artists' lives and the racy energy of his prose that make this edgy, irreverent, often hilariously profane novel soar. In some ways a successor to Carey's impudent picaresque Illywhacker, it's a certifiable hoot. Is the endlessly inventive Carey on the Nobel shortlist? He ought to be."
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Two-time Booker-winner Carey returns with a magnificent high-stakes art heist wrapped around a fraternal saga . . . 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."
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Carey creates a whole new world in each novel, and nearly a new language, so fresh and transfixing are the voices of his narrators . . . He 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."
–Booklist (starred review)
Between these two fraternal perspectives, one skewed by desire, the other by a brain disorder, Carey frames a story that shifts before our eyes -- maddeningly complex, hypnotically brilliant, entirely original.
The Washington Post
arey, a different breed of author, can't resist these temptations, and the best parts of Theft: A Love Story can be found in the lulls between its hectic events, when the novel truly sings — both with Hugh's off-center but illuminating observations and Butcher's outraged complaints about the mendacity of the art dealers whose favor he is forced to curry.
The New York Times
Vance splits the difference between Cockney and Aussie in his reading of Carey's tale of art and family. At times, he sounds significantly like Michael Caine in his broad working-class tones, elongating his vowels in an English version of a Southern drawl. For other characters, the Australian in Vance wins out, likely reminding American listeners of Crocodile Dundee or the narrator in those Foster's beer commercials. Vance pulls off both styles admirably in reading Carey's book about two brothers, one a painter and the other a childlike innocent, who are drawn into stealing paintings belonging to the father-in-law of a beautiful stranger. Vance does a credible job of echoing the half-tempo cadences of the impaired Slow Bones, bringing the hurtling pace of his reading to a relative halt each time he wrestles with his dialogue, imitating Slow Bones's thick-tongued efforts to translate thought into speech. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 20). (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Michael Boone, a.k.a. Butcher Bones, is a formerly famous Australian painter of working-class background who has lost all of his art in an acrimonious divorce and now finds himself broke and exiled to a patron's house in the outback. There, he tries to begin painting again while taking care of Hugh, his psychologically damaged brother and alter ego. Into this already tumultuous world stumbles the bright, beautiful, and amoral Marlene, a similarly self-made art authenticator with a tie to the estate of a famous painter. The two begin a love affair that helps Boone restart his career while at the same drawing him ever deeper into the more nefarious aspects of the art world. Theft is the overarching metaphor of the novel, covering everything from aspects of the artistic process, to the relationship between artists and collectors, to the art world generally, and it's a metaphor that Carey (Oscar and Lucinda) likely intends to extend into the world at large. Sharply observed, well written, and acerbically witty, this book will only further Carey's reputation. Recommended for all public libraries.-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The two-time Booker-winner's ninth novel is a feisty ironic comedy focused on a failed painter who'd give Joyce Cary's Gully Jimson a run for his money. If either of them had any, that is. Peter Carey's bilious protagonist Michael "Butcher" Boone is the intellectual black sheep of a rowdy Australian clan locally famous for its profession of slaughtering and marketing livestock and its predilection for booze-fueled misbehavior. When Butcher, some time after a prison term handed him for an art-related criminal rampage, considers taking up painting again, his semi-good intentions are foiled by two brazenly unconventional characters. His mentally challenged brother Hugh, a bearlike innocent who speaks an odd gnomic mixture of tearful nonsense and hair-raisingly imaginative naif poetry, continues to assert urgent claims on his sibling's reluctant stewardship. Enter Marlene, a succulently sexual mystery woman with family ties to the mistress of legendary Picasso-like renegade painter Jacques Leibovitz. Seducing Butcher is child's play to this manipulative siren, who gradually involves the agreeably amoral artist in a trip to Japan (for an exhibition which, Marlene promises, will restore his celebrity), duplicitous recreations of canvasses produced by both Leibovitz and his wily mistress, Dominique, and ongoing tussles with the "art police" (specifically, Butcher's Javert, police detective Amberstreet)-all this in addition to the vague confusions endured by the helpless (though not at all clueless) Hugh. The serpentine plot is a brain-squeezing beauty, cunningly elaborated through the juxtaposed first-person narrations of Butcher and Hugh (a possible nod to Australian master Patrick White'snovel about emotionally conjoined twins, The Solid Mandala). But it's the author's mastery of details of artists' lives and the racy energy of his prose that make this edgy, irreverent, often hilariously profane novel soar. In some ways a successor to Carey's impudent picaresque Illywhacker (1985), it's a certifiable hoot. Is the endlessly inventive Carey on the Nobel shortlist? He ought to be. First printing of 75,000