Nonficionado Sale
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list


    Original Essays | May 5, 2015

    Leonard Mlodinow: IMG The Fragility of Grand Discoveries



    When I was in graduate school at Berkeley I was offered a prestigious fellowship to study for a year in Germany, but I decided it would be a... Continue »
    1. $19.57 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

More copies of this ISBN

The Autograph Man

by

The Autograph Man Cover

 

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Youre either for me or against me, thought Alex-Li Tandem, referring to the daylight and, more generally, to the day. He stretched flat and made two fists. He was fully determined to lie right here until he was given something to work with, something noble, something fine. He saw no purpose in leaving his bed for a day that was against him from the get-go. He had tried it before; no good could come from it.

A moment later he was surprised to feel a flush of warm light dappled over him, filtered through a blind. Nonviolent light. This was encouraging. Compare and contrast with yesterday mornings light, pettily fascist, cruel as the strip lighting in a hospital hallway. Or the morning before yesterday morning, when he had kept his eyes closed for the duration, afraid of whatever was causing that ominous red throb beneath the eyelids. Or the morning before that, the Morning of Doom, which no one could have supposed would continue for seventy-two hours.

NOW OPTIMISTIC, ALEX grabbed the bauble that must be twisted to open blinds. His fingers were too sweaty. He shuttled up the bed, dried his left hand on the wall, gripped and pulled. The rain had come in the night. It looked as if the Flood had passed through Mountjoy, scrubbed it clean. The whole place seemed to have undergone an act of accidental restoration. He could see brickwork, newly red-faced and streaky as after a good weep, balconies with their clean crop of wet white socks, shirts and sheets. Shiny black aerials. Oh, it was fine. Collected water had transformed every gutter, every depression in the pavement, into prism puddles. There were rainbows everywhere.

Alex took a minute to admire the gentle sun that kept its mildness even as it escaped a gray ceiling of cloud. On the horizon a spindly church steeple had been etched by a child over a skyline perfectly blue and flatly colored in. To the left of that sat the swollen cupola of a mosque, described with more skill. So people were off to see God, then, this morning. All of that was still happening. Alex smiled, weakly. He wished them well.

IN HIS BATHROOM, Alex was almost defeated by the discovery of a sequence of small tragedies. There was an awful smell. Receptacles had been missed. Stuff was not where stuff should be. Stepping over stuff, ignoring stuff, stoic Alex turned to the vanity mirror. He yanked it towards him by its metal neck until its squares became diamonds, parallelograms, one steel line. He had aged, terribly. The catch in his face, the one that held things up, this had been released. But how long was it since he had been a boy? A few days? A year? A decade? And now this?

He bared his teeth to the mirror. They were yellow. But on the plus side, they were there. He opened his Accidental eyes (Rubinfines term: halfway between Oriental and Occidental) wide as they would go and touched the tip of his nose to the cold glass. What was the damage? His eyes worked. Light didnt hurt. Swallowing felt basic, uncomplicated. He was not shivering. He felt no crippling paranoia or muscular tremors. He seized his penis. He squeezed his cheeks. Present, correct. Everything was still where it appears in the textbooks. And it seemed unlikely that he would throw up, say, in the next four hours, something he had not been able to predict with any certainty for a long time. These were all wonderful, wonderful developments. Breathing heavily, Alex shaved off three days worth of growth (had it been three days?). Finishing up, he cut himself only twice and applied the sad twists of tissue.

Teeth done, Alex remembered the wear-and-tear deposit he had paid his landlord and shuffled back to the bedroom. He needed a cloth, but the kitchen was another country. Instead he took a pillowcase, dipped it in a glass of water and began to scrub at the handprint on the wall. Maybe it looked like art? Maybe it had a certain presence? He stepped back and looked at it, at the grubby yellow outline. Then he scrubbed some more. It didnt look like art. It looked like someone had died in the room. Alex sat down on the corner of his bed and pressed his thumbs to his eyes to stop two ready tears. A little gasp escaped him. And whats remarkable, he thought, whats really amazing, is this, is how tiny the actual thing was in the first place. This thing that almost destroyed me. Two, no, maybe three days ago he had placed a pill on his tongue, like a tiny communion wafer. Hed left it there for ten seconds, as recommended, before swallowing. He had never done anything like this before. Nothing could have prepared him! Moons rose, suns fell, for days, for nights, all without him noticing!

Legal name: Microdot. Street name: Superstar. For a time it had made itself famous all through his body. And now it was over.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375501869
Author:
Smith, Zadie
Publisher:
Random House
Author:
Smith, Zadie
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Collectors and collecting
Subject:
Picaresque literature
Subject:
Autographs
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st U.S. ed.
Series Volume:
no. 123
Publication Date:
October 1, 2002
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
347 p.
Dimensions:
9.68x6.48x1.26 in. 1.40 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. White Teeth (Vintage International)
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  2. Speaking with the Angel Used Trade Paper $1.50
  3. The Lovely Bones
    Used Hardcover $0.95
  4. Seek My Face Used Hardcover $3.50
  5. The Buddha of Suburbia
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  6. In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott...
    Used Trade Paper $3.95

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Autograph Man Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 347 p. pages Random House - English 9780375501869 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A preternaturally gifted new writer [with] a voice that?s street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time."
"Review" by , "Smith is...a master of style whose prose is playful yet unaffected, mongrel yet cohesive, profound yet funny, vernacular yet lyrical."
"Review" by , "Smith writes sharp dialogue for every age and race — and she?s funny as hell."
spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.