Autograph Man

Of course I had heard of Zadie Smith before, but this weekend was the weekend I started to read Autograph Man.

Alex-Li Tandem is the autograph man – collecting, evaluating, selling autographs. He grows up a Jewish boy in a London suburb – and that’s where the story starts. Alex’ father takes him and two other boys to a wrestling match at the Royal Albert Hall where they meet Joseph Klein, a thirteen-year-old autograph collector and his dominating father.

After roughly 100 pages I’m still a little lost between the different topics – Judaism, fatal illness, drugs – and the rather quick development of characters. Just when I got used and liked the character of Alex Li-Tandem’s father, he’s already dead.

Since I spend my days with teenagers I liked the description of kids` language and behaviour and also their parents' ignorance of their doings - she must have made field studies there.

A few lines from the text where Alex' father wonders what they are talking about:

"References to programmes he's never watched, songs he's never heard, films that came and went without him noticing. It is as if there is some high-pitched frequency in the everyday life of his son which Li-Jin is tuned in only once a year, at Christmas, when he is told to go and buy the bright plastic merchandise which accompanies these mysterious entertainments."

However, in the section of the grown-up Alex the dialogues around introspection, religion and drugged experiences are meandering around and I'm waiting for some connection.

Am I too impatient? Is there anyone out there who knows the book?

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