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A Nearly Perfect Copy: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385536690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385536691
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Amend (Stations West, 2010) puts her provocative and original spin on the art-forgery novel. Writing with supple command, caustic wit, and a deep fascination with decent people who lose their moral compass, Amend brings us into a classy New York art auction house founded by Elm’s (for Elmira) great-grandfather, where she is the expert on drawings and prints. In spite of her successful professional and personal lives, Elm is as vulnerable as everyone else to tragedy and the aberrations of grief. As she struggles with loss, Gabriel, a poor, discouraged Spanish artist in Paris, suddenly finds a path to success after meeting a shrewd and sexy woman at an opening. Elm and Gabriel both end up snared in a web of high-stakes deceit involving illicit copies. Not just forgeries but also, of all disturbing things, clones. As Amend tracks the descent of her two wounded and alienated innocents into lies, desperation, and crime, her visual acuity, fluent psychology, venture into the shadow side of the art world, and storytelling verve make for a blue-chip novel of substance and suspense. --Donna Seaman

Review

"Allison Amend has given us a flawlessly rendered, totally engrossing, class-and-continent hopping story about the day to day struggles of marriage and loss, the commerce and caprice of high art, the reality of being talented and ambitious when talent and ambition are not enough, and the ethics of cloning. Every scene, every page, every passage of this novel has been written with the stunning clarity and great humanity of a true artist at the height of her abilities. My guess is, if you read this book you will soon be shoving it into the hand of someone you love. I certainly will." —Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

"Just when you think you know where A Nearly Perfect Copy is going, it swerves, like life, in some new direction. Allison Amend has packed this book with wit, style, yearning, risk, damage, truth, and compassion, populated it with characters who breathe with their own individual mystery, and along the way written what just might be the definitive fictional treatment of art forgery." —Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead

"Gracefully wielding a collage of unlikely elements, A Nearly Perfect Copy pits authenticity against imitation, deception against personal fulfillment, and replacement against irretrievable loss ... Intricate and ambitious ... Amend’s characters [are] relatable and visceral ... [Her] crisp, even prose is hard to pull away from and subtle in its elegance." The Dallas Morning News

"Amend draws sharp characters [and] creates a nicely evolving plot ... What unfolds is acutely appealing: various characters struggling to overcome defeat and failure in their private and public lives against a backdrop filled with the particulars of middle-class family life and the art world here and abroad. I got caught up in their problems, their struggles. I loved the lore about the art business. Really, I found this to be a terrifically entertaining novel that never lost its hold on the hearts of its characters or mine." —Alan Cheuse, NPR

"A smart page turner ... Amend creates very real characters who live in a very unreal world. This is a wonderfully witty and stylish novel, perfect for the summer." —Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune

"Amend tells an absorbing story of believable characters walking a tightrope of ethical dilemma and despair ... Artistic and beautiful." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"A well-crafted and introspective novel that will provide fodder for thoughtful discussions on morality and integrity." Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

"[A] fast-paced, intriguing novel." —People

"Amend's brisk, complex second novel focuses on artistic lineage and forgery, loss and replacement, and questions of origin and originality ... Stunningly well-researched, A Nearly Perfect Copy is studded with fascinating detail—about the avenues by which art comes to auction and the machinery of auction houses, the way pulpy nineteenth-century paper can be simulated now, the kind of sketches that command collectors' attention. These facts are more than just narrative filigree; they suggest authenticity and discipline in a novel about fakery. A Nearly Perfect Copy poses serious moral questions...but its real subject matter seems to be the fraudulence or uncertainty of the self ... As Elm and Gabriel become more involved (and implicated) in their copying procedures and assignments the more their selves wobble and shake and flicker. And this motion, of the self trying to right itself, and the way Amend captures it on the page, is beautiful." —Mid-American Review

"This is what people mean when they use the term 'intelligent page-turner.' Amend is a brilliant storyteller, whose pitch-perfect observations call to mind Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan. The complicated, completely fascinating characters (built with such human sympathy), the intricacy and cleverness of the plot, and the razor sharp exploration of contemporary mores make for a truly masterful read. I loved, loved, loved it." —Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age

"Clever, wry ... Amend makes her characters immediately real, depicting their complicated desires and decisions in a highly enjoyable, nearly perfect novel." Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Amend creates suspense by charting in wincing detail Elm’s and Gabriel’s progress through ethically gray areas in the art market to unquestionably illegal acts ... Well-wrought ... the author meticulously delineates [her characters’] yearnings and frustrations ... Cleverly rendered.” The Washington Post

"[Written] with supple command, caustic wit, and a deep fascination with decent people who lose their moral compass ... As Amend tracks the descent of her two wounded and alienated innocents into lies, desperation, and crime, her visual acuity, fluent psychology, venture into the shadow side of the art world, and storytelling verve make for a blue-chip novel of substance and suspense."
Booklist

"Something very real comes out of the many layers of forgery in Allison Amend's brainy intrigue of the shadowy side of the art world. Provenance is earned in more than the expected ways! A Nearly Perfect Copy is a captivating story." —Ron Carlson, author of The Signal
 
"Allison Amend is a gifted storyteller—no, more than gifted. Her writing is powerful enough to create its own kind of weather. Her characters are so real it's as if you could reach between the pages and shake hands with them." —Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

"A fast-paced, lively novel of forgery ... Amend provides a fizzy, entertaining insider's look at the conjunction of visual art and commerce—especially the world of art auctions ... Her exploration of the ethics and the mechanics of the art world provide charm and enjoyment ... A provocative and likable read." Kirkus Reviews

"Amend’s talent is on full display as these smart, complex narratives dance around each other, each capturing the reader’s imagination without ever detracting from the other story. Although she’s received critical acclaim for her work in a number of literary publications and for her historical novel, Stations West, this finely rendered portrait of two lives should introduce Amend to a wider audience." BookPage

"[An] intricate, witty page-turner." Stanford Magazine

"It’s not every day that you get to read a novel that deals with art, money, death, love, marriage, and a cloned dog, but still somehow manages to be moving, funny, and a page-turner all at the same time." —Amy Brill, author of The Movement of Stars

More About the Author

Allison Amend, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is the author of the Independent Publisher Book Award-winning short story collection THINGS THAT PASS FOR LOVE and the novel STATIONS WEST, which was a finalist for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Oklahoma Book Award. Her new novel, A NEARLY PERFECT COPY, will be published on April 9, 2013. She lives in New York City, where she teaches creative writing at Lehman College and for the Red Earth MFA program. Visit her on the web at: http://www.allisonamend.com or http://www.facebook.com/AllisonAmendAuthor

Customer Reviews

I was not satisfied with the ending.
Shirley
The two plot lines flow seamlessly, with wonderful character development.
Betsy Heuer
This book is well written, but it's a slow read.
Nancy Famolari

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari VINE VOICE on March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although Elm Howells has a respected place in the art world and a career as a director at a distinguished auction house, she hasn't been able to concentrate on her job, or anything else, since the death of her son. She desperately wants to have him back, or replace him. Gabriel Cannois is a talented artist, but he's been unable to achieve the recognition he craves from the Paris art world. When you're ambitious and at the bottom even forgery sounds promising.

The characters in this novel are very introspective. It's really more of a character study than a mystery. In fact, they are so introspective that the book sometimes becomes rather boring. After a certain point, I got tired of Elm being unable to concentrate because she misses her dead son. Personally, I found Gabriel a more sympathetic character. He wants acclaim so badly he's blind to how he could be damaging himself.

This book is well written, but it's a slow read. The background is detailed and gives a good picture of the art world these characters live in. If you enjoy character studies, you may enjoy this book. If you're looking for a mystery, give it a miss.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By gardenreader on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book you have to keep reading because you need to know what happens to these characters. I couldn't put the book down in case the characters made a decision without me. A Nearly Perfect Copy transported me to New York and France while darting into and out of the art and auction worlds, in pursuit of acceptance, reclaimed losses, and fame, if not money.

Elmira: heartbroken over the loss of her son - going through the motions at her job at her extended family's auction house, parenting her remaining daughter, still loving her husband. She is an expert in prints and drawings for Tinsley's auction house, yet can't focus on her job after the loss of her son in the Christmas tsunami some years back. Her remaining daughter, Moira, and her beleaguered husband, Colin, carry on the motions despite the gaping hole in their family. What would she do or give to make her family whole again?

Gabriel: decended from an old master artist, graduate of prestigious French art school, aging past the struggling artist demographic and heading toward middle age without commercial or critical success. He has yet to find his style as an artist, yet his ability to mimic other styles opens a few doors for him to make some money. Is the payday worth it?

The book is a vivid portrait of a family in crisis, of an artist in flux, and of a storm brewing that connects them all. I loved learning more about the auction and art worlds in intricate detail.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This books accesses these hidden places with impeccable authenticity. Elm has lost her son to a tsunami. Her life will always have that primal tragedy as part of its narrative. Gabriel hales from an immaculate artistic heritage, but despite his great promise, has never found that definitive spark of his own. Both move within the world of art,: creation, discovery, selling. It is a world slippery with reputation, facade, and wealth. Just this oblique visit to the modern world of art dealership and mentoring places this book into a superlative category.

To me, more stunning, are the portraits of the deepest longings of the heart mixed with the epherma of daily drifts of emotions. The makings of the plot are the temptations that come to bear, beckoning our protagonists to the single desire that they find irresistible. The author draws the reader into the dialogue. I was inevitably driven to cast a thought to what I would risk, what scruple I might surrender. And in the end, is an almost perfect copy good enough?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ann Elliot VINE VOICE on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel shows how small deceptions lead to huge transgressions, so in an effort at transparency, let me say that I did not carefully sort through the Amazon Vine Last Harvest list looking for a book that matches my interests or expertise. Instead, I chose the book because I liked the painting of a little Boston bull terrier on the ARC cover.

The story involves two characters on two continents who betray their ideals--the principles that define them--in order to gain what they want most in life.

The two tales unfold at an extremely slow pace and are full of the minutiae of the art world, from creation of works to their sale. The book explains that some artists build their works by carefully applying many layers of paint, but that technique doesn't work as well in a novel. A viewer of art does not see the application of all those layers--only the fully-realized final product. In a novel, sifting through multiple layers as they are added in order to glean new facts about the characters and plot is as exciting as, well, as watching paint dry.

The glut of details might be more tolerable if they were added with charm or grace. Instead, they sound like this: "The light, . . . was an odd brown shade, nearly ochre, thrown up either from the play of light against the dark carpet or, more likely, from the palimpsestic echoes of brown wash lingering on Elm's visual cortex."

Or my favorite example of unnecessary detail, "In front of her, a dog stopped to pee, looking at her. The urine, green against the stones, shiny like antifreeze, slinked down the pavement toward the water."

People who enjoy the cut-throat milieu of the art world or a primer on how art is made will find this book a gem. Those of us who just liked the little dog on the cover should move on to another book.
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