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Antkind Paperback – 7 July 2021
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- Publisher : 4th Estate GB (7 July 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 720 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008319502
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008319502
- Best Sellers Rank: 169,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
‘Magnificent … crammed with insanely creative gags’ Guardian
‘Outstanding. Combining his films’ most urgent themes and recurring concerns in a format that supports the digressions and logic-loops he’s so famous for, Charlie Kaufman may have out-Kaufmaned himself’ The i
‘A very strong debut novel, a long, anguished spill of a book, full of buried furies and nervy philosophical expeditions, constantly tossing off sparks of humour and imagination … at once surreal and highly readable’ LA Times
‘Marked by a feverish genius. Antkind is Kaufman pushing himself to every formal and social limit, no holds barred, bleak and devastating, yet marvellous’ LA Times Review of Books
‘Magnificent, genius, enraging, mysterious, joyous, terrifying and, above all, hilarious! Antkind might contain the universe’ Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less
‘A full-throttled absurdist revolt against the constraints of the audience-tested mass entertainment, Antkind is unbridled Kaufman energy and wit coming up against the limits of the imagination itself: discursive, subversive, and genuinely funny’ Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End
‘To paraphrase Charlie Kaufman, it’s like a brain factory in there! This is a whopper of a book, bursting with the driest of humour, the strangest of scenarios, and the most brilliant of observations. It is wholly original, maddening, and marvellous’ Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book
‘Each page is so stuffed with invention, audacity and hilarity, it feels like an act of defiance. Antkind is a fever dream you don’t want to be shaken awake from, a thrill ride that veers down stranger and stranger alleys until you find yourself in a reality so kaleidoscopic you will question your own sanity. Or: the novel only Charlie Kaufman could pull off’ Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
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Top reviews from Australia
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To quote Antkind: ‘I don’t know what the audience would be for a book outlining a non-existent film.’
The book is about a three month long film, and the main characters attempts to both remember and recreate it. It’s an immersive experience and I found the setup to be wonderfully enjoyable. The middle was a bit more directionless. False starts and tangents aplenty. Kaufman pokes fun at himself via the film critic narrator (sort of endlessly. It’s a bit too heavy with self-deprecation) while praising Judd Apatow in comparison.
Antkind is funny, farcical, insane and dense. Sometimes I was questioning whether Kaufman was inventing a concept or whether it was actually real. One small gripe for example (perhaps one of you / thon that have read the novel can answer?), if Barassini was partially responsible for the invention of Braino in 2006 (approx.) then how could Abbitha journey back to 1983 and offer the story of Trunks to Barbosae at that time? 1983 was pre Braino, right? (Answer in the comments!) This single question should give you some indication of the level of detail in the book, and perhaps some of the madness.
I liked the ending and I’m really glad I did. I have my own interpretation of it, which I don’t need to put here, and I’m sure you’ll have yours. I liked the comparison of people being on a coach bus in transit. I enjoyed Calcium. I hope Jim Carrey gets a bicycle (in joke). If you’re receptive to this piece of art you might just become enveloped by it.
I will conclude with another quote from Antkind: ‘Is it a masterwork? Is it a sham? Am I being enlightened, or am I being conned? It is, it occurs to me, nothing more and nothing less than I bring to it.’
Top reviews from other countries
I was also attracted to the book by its title which promised to feed me fascination with the metaphor of insect societies for the general grotesqueries of human society. I was hoping for something like William T Vollmann's You Bright and Risen Angels, which to my mind was a major literary milestone that went unnoticed. Again it wasn't. Not a chitinous carapace in sight. But as a labyrinthine and zany plotline, involving films within dreams, within dreams, within movies, within hypnosis sessions, it certainly had echoes of Vollmann's missed masterpiece. Having said that, the whole thing is taken from the first person POV of a single central character making it not particularly challenging to follow. Unlike Pynchon where you're four pages along and you suddenly realise you've been in the head of a completely different character situated at a different place and time, and you go back to reread it, and after three attempts you're still not sure where the transition occurred.
Other reviews suggest that it's full of abstruse and obscure allusions. As a reader of Joyce and Pynchon i did not find this to be so, which i guess defines me as sadly over-educated. Most of the references are to movie directors. Reading it on the Kindle made it very easy to look up anyone's name that was unfamiliar. The pace is unrelenting and the comedy never flags or becomes repetitive, but that in itself can become exhausting with such a long book. I took time out half way through to read a biography of the rock group Soft Machine, and then returned to this without any great sense of disruption. Does it need to be quite so long? I've not quite reached the end yet so i don't know if there is a punchline or if it's just an endless recursion of shaggy dog stories. The guy has a lot to say, and he's funny so it doesn't matter.
At its essence the comedy is based on the increasing mental contortions that the privileged white male who just wants to be a decent human being has to go through to exist with some kind of dignity in the MeToo, BLM era. If there is a message then perhaps it is that sure, we all need to get 'woke'. The more the merrier. But if that's accomplished with just sanctimonious snarkinees, and without a bit of humorous self-deprecation, then we'll just end up making a world that's no better than the one we are trying to change.
I'm not going to recite the plot (mainly because I can't really, it's written by Charlie Kaufman.) lets just say if you like Kaufmans film and you like reading then you'll like this, probably.
If this doesn't win a load of awards (Pulitzer?) then I really don't know what will. Best book I've read this year and I've read a ton. I wanted to get as many in as I can before the whole world cracks down the middle like a dropped egg. But round and no yoke.
I think it's evident I'm not a writer.