What a Piece of Work I Am (A Confabulation)
WHERETO FIND IT
|A Brief Description
from the Publisher
Meet Ariane Lodkochnikov: clam-bar waitress, avant-garde actress, 1950s small-town bad girl, causeless rebel, boyhood crush, and ideal figment of the imagination of Peter Leroy. Peter is the engaging narrator of this novel; Ariane is the unreliable narrator of her own life. With Peter listening raptly, she weaves a tale of voyages—some erotic, some poignant, some hilariously disastrous, all leading her back to the seaside town of Babbington.
Eric Kraft’s novels featuring Peter Leroy offer more than meets the eye, and What a Piece of Work I Am is a treasure trove for readers: a woman’s quest to escape her reputation, an echo-chamber of myth, and a fascinating meditation on the human urge to tell and hear stories.
WHERETO FIND IT
Very Brief Excerpts from Reviews
Poignant, dizzying . . . a lip-smacking conceit
. . . a heroine as complex as the narrative.
Kraft cooks up another treat..
A prism of overlapping narrative frames.
A wild, fascinating tale.
Conveys a sense of sheer play.
It is easy to enter the spirit of oddly persuasive
Sometimes real, sometimes imaginary, and always
We are—as we have come to expect from Eric Kraft—in
the hands of a master.
One of the most engaging creations to emerge
from Kraft's imagination.
A flight of deeply imagined fancy.
Joyful and chastening . . . playful . . . like
a mirror held to a mirror.
RECOMMENDED BY THE READER’S CATALOG
WHERETO FIND IT
In the preface to his poignant,
dizzying new novel . . . Eric Kraft—writing as his favorite character,
Peter Leroy -- explains that what follows is the life story of Ariane Lodkochnikov,
the sultry older sister of Peter's imaginary boyhood friend Raskol. . .
. Thus the imaginary sister of the imaginary friend survives an imaginary
fire in order to confess the secrets of growing up female in postwar Babbington,
L. I. . . . All this is revealed in an extended conversation between Ariane
and the narrator. It's a lip-smacking conceit: Ariane
tries to confess the bare facts of her life while Peter, romantic and puppy-doggish,
compulsively gilds them. This, of course, is the core of Ariane's problem.
Men have imagined her so often that she can't seem to locate the self in
herself. . . . In his latest novel, Mr. Kraft has created a
heroine as complex as his narrative. . . . [he] is a master at illuminating
the shoals and shallows of a young person's heart. . . .
Eric Kraft cooks up another
treat. . . . [He] continues his
delightful and brainy series of novels about the engaging denizens
of the fictional Long Island clamming town of Babbington. . . .
This new chapter in Kraft's
Peter Leroy series, set in post WWII Babbington, Long Island, is a
mazy, metafictional tale centered around Leroy's imaginary adolescent crush,
the sultry, elusive, and histrionic Ariane 'Tootsie' Lodkochnikov. . .
. Leroy's story is a prism of overlapping narrative frames,
including a preface in which he celebrates the powers of wishful thinking
and recounts how he dreamt Ariane up . . . Leroy delights in revising his
narrative, often reaching an impasse (in one version, Ariane dies in a
fire), then backing out and taking a different, sometimes bewildering turn
. . . fans will . . . enjoy the playful vitality with which he brings into
being the fanciful characters of his imaginative east coast community.
Novelist Eric Kraft's niche in contemporary
literature might well be as a sunny, upbeat American version of the Argentine
fabulist Jorge Luis Borges.
Ariane Lodkochnikov is practically a walking
sex fantasy -- her nickname is Tootsie Koochikov, and she is so alluring
that even her dopey brothers spy on her through chinks in the bedroom wall.
But when she realizes that she is also the Babbington, Long Island, town
slut she sets out to remake herself. She begins at a local big-money tourist
motel. Disillusioned, however, with what seemed a conventional route to
at least material improvement, she moves on, finding the devotion of an
elderly neighbor for his dying wife about the highest thing life has to
offer. Her fate is to be a modern-day Ariadne, though, which means that
almost any path she tries is a dead end or loops back to where she started.
That should be frustrating to the reader,
but it's when we come upon new versions of what we've seen before that
the novel is most droll and delighting. It conveys a sense
of sheer play that a reader may not have experienced since building
a fort in the back yard or setting up a dolls' tea party.
Mere superlatives, apparently, are not enough.
On the strength of the praise he has gotten from fans such as Armistead
Maupin, Andrei Codrescu and an army of book reviewers, comic novelist Eric
Kraft ought to be a household name by now. His fictional universe, centered
in Babbington, Long Island ("clam capital of America"), is a delightful,
Kodachrome-bright concoction of 1950s Americana as seen through the eyes
of his obsessive memoirist, Peter Leroy. . . .
A story of travels that are sometimes
real, sometimes imaginary, and always diverting. Kraft's gift is for
minute observation, the depiction of small events and the metaphors to
be found in things like clam chowder. Reading Kraft takes work, but it
is work well rewarded.
Peter Leroy stories and novels of Eric Kraft are among the most ingenious
works of recent fiction. They are this fine writer's way of using fiction
to deal with that age-old dilemma of art, the links between illusion and
reality. In his new novel, Kraft has gone further down this road than before.
Reading it is something like watching a play within a play -- a very good
play within a play that may be better than the larger play itself.
Reality, in Eric Kraft's fifth novel, sometimes
seems as slippery and difficult to grasp as a jellyfish in baby oil.
What a Piece of Work I Am . . . offers
the reminiscences of Ariane Lodkochnikov, a one-time clam bar waitress
who is able, through the compassionate intervention of Peter Leroy, to
re-invent her life.
A modern fable, this flight of
deeply imagined fancy deals in artifice, the rights to our own life
stories and the making of them, indeed the making of ourselves. In rapid
succession, a series of people try to take away from Ariane Lodkochnikov
her right of self-creation. Her triumph over treachery is her ultimate
work of art.
A joyful and chastening
novel in which Ariane Lodkochnikov, called Tootsie Koochikov in school,
attempts to rise above her station, her reputation and her small-town life
by way of the avant-garde theater; or is it theater, and does Kraft's habitually
naive hero Peter Leroy know where life ends and theater begins? He—and
we—know one thing; we're all crazy about Tootsie Koochikov, who defines
the concept of a dish, a game chick, a blessing. . . . One reacts to the
novel on a personal level, delighting in the concreteness of its complexities,
the evanescence of its construction and in the playful
purposefulness of its prose. Like a mirror held to a
mirror, the novel allows us an oblique glimpse of ourselves reflected
a thousand times at the oddest angle.
WHERETO FIND IT
What a Piece of Work I Am is published in paperback by Picador, a division of St. Martin’s Press, at $11.00.
You should be able to find What a Piece of Work I Amat your local bookstore, but you can also order it by phone from:
Bookbound at 1-800-959-7323You can order it on the Web from Amazon.com Books.
Copyright © 1994 by Eric Kraft
What Piece of Work I Am is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
First published by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.
Now available in paperback from Picador USA,
a division of St. Martin's Press.
|[an error occurred while processing this directive]