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Spygirl: True Adventures from My Life as a Private Eye Paperback – September 2, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"As Spygirl, I could protect my friends, rebuke my enemies, and make the boys love me," proclaims Gray, recalling her recent three-year stint as a Manhattan private investigator. Flawlessly weaving reminiscences of childhood, college days at Brown and the low-paying job as a publishing "slave" she left for her new but decidedly unglamorous career as an agent, Gray's debut hilariously chronicles a roller-coaster love and social life amid the uncertainty of a new millennium. Overshadowing her recollections of the sometimes tedious e-commerce investigations she primarily worked on, while at a small PI firm called The Agency, are the quirky characters she encountered, including a Muslim taxi driver who was enamored of her; a teenaged Korean computer network manager with Tourette's syndrome and an obsession with the cartoon cat Garfield; a sexy drinking buddy who thought she was being stalked by magician David Blaine; and a co-worker with a cyst and the unfortunate appellation Assman. Loaded with Gen-X cultural references, familiar New York landmarks and experiences, and written in a self-deprecating, sometimes sarcastic tone, Gray proves she is "as self-hating as anyone worth knowing" among the artsy 20-something crowd, to which this memoir will probably appeal.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Anxious to trade the "corporate hell" of a low-paying publishing job for greater adventure, Gray, a twentysomething New Yorker, takes a job as a private investigator. In this Sex in the City sleuthing memoir, Gray shifts between days researching crooks with her raunchy, oddball colleagues and evenings in hipster bars searching for some semblance of love. Readers expecting suspenseful, tightly woven detective stories will be disappointed; much of Gray's account of her job focuses on the competitive, paper-shuffling tedium and bizarre office personalities. She also tries for a deeper exploration of the human desire for truth that results in some self-conscious insertions of social theory and overblown prose. But her voice is brash, smart, stylish, yearning, and very funny, and in anecdotes filled with revealing dialogue and sharp observation, she captures what it's like to be young, talented, overly educated, underpaid, and single in New York. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971521
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,062,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book really won me over--the more I read the better it got.
"harrisonwithers"
The title and its subtitle are very misleading but I adore A. Gray's writing.
Hawaiian Eye
Very well written, entertaining, great achievement for such a young woman.
Inquiring Mind

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Elissa Hanigan on September 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Amy Gray is like a younger, female Woody Allen. She really gets it. She's captured that peculiar sorrow of living lonely in New York, with raw laugh-out-loud-funny dialog (much of it of the four letter kind) that had tears running down my face. (I live in a different big city on a western coast but grew up in NYC) I must admit the book flagged bit in the middle as the cases got a bit slow, but Gray's crackling dialogue and lovable/slighty demented characters serve well and deliver a very sweet moment in the end, for the characters and the reader.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By bekainindia on January 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Thank God I didn't and picked it up as a Bookcrossing book. No, seriously, what do I really think? YAWN! I've just finished chapter 8 and am still waiting for her to do something interesting. Although each chapter starts off with a quote about spying, the amount of "spying" she's done so far is contained in a paragraph and involves a short phone call. The rest of what I've read is devoted to meandering through her past, in no particular chronological order, in the middle of nothing and jumps back to the present. Her memories are mainly about boyfriends she had or wished she had, small incidents about her past job that she hated(Doesn't hold a candle to The Devil Wears Prada), being cool and doing drugs in college. She spends most of the present trying to be cool with the homeboys in her office by making wisecracks on the fire escape during smoke breaks, or getting plastered and obsesses on a man, any man, as she can't seem to live a week without one no matter how much a loser. I'm afraid I can't finish this either. I have too many other books waiting to be read. I'm disappointed though because the title sounds like an interesting story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "kb430" on October 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is truly a delightful novel. It is original and helps fill a gap in literature for young women's truthful voices. Gray really gets inside the psyche of the curious, independent woman in New York on a quest for answers; whether in her personal or her professional life. Gray's hilarious account of her years as a P.I. and the ridiculously colorful characters kept me glued to my couch turning pages the whole way through.
The narrative structure of this novel was fascinating and held together the various threads of the story that focuses mostly on Gray's current social life and current work projects. The images her prose evokes are crisp, vivid and bright. Amy also illustrates a pack of questionable men she keeps running into en route to finding a compatible boyfriend with light-hearted humor even as she reveals her disappointment in making yet another mistake in becoming involved. Her stories are funny, frightening and all too familiar to women of her generation. Gray deftly weaves snippets of her past that led to her present and does quick yet evocative sketches of many influences in her life. This novel is a lot of fun, superbly written and not to be missed.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hans Van De Wegh on September 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
A good read. The author's subtle sense of humor made the book. Her recounting of her personal life was actually much more interesting than the PI stuff. It was full of cool chix doing their thing in NYC with attitude. I liked that Cassie character.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Melinda McBride on April 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
But it might not do this book justice. This book is an unusual combination of twenty-something coming-of-age and sophisticated variations of the theme of spying. The author ruminates elegantly about the nature of memory, the construction of self, the difference between what is false and what is true, and she draws on sources from literature and popular culture to illustrate her points-from Woody Allen to the X-Files, Nabokov and Dostoyevsky. It's a difficult balance to strike, not doubt, but I have to applaud her ambition. I think this book is way more complex than the descriptions may imply, but for the most part, it succeeds. It may put off people just looking for mind candy, which it's not, although it's still a good yarn.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Emily Vowell on October 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Amy Gray is a great writer, but she excels at comedy. There are so many clever scenes--an arm wrestling scene at the PI office (amid rat traps and wiffle bats) another at an amateur strip party in New York, or at the annual office Halloween party where her co-workers have some unfortunate costumes... The section headings alone are worth the price of admission: Kicking Ass and Taking Names, Requiem for a Smoker, Choking the Chicken, Who's your Daddy? This girl can write funny, which is rare to find. Highly recommended if you have a sense of humor and a curiousity about the world of detectives--especially what they do after hours.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "harrisonwithers" on September 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book really won me over--the more I read the better it got. It seemed to gain authority and develop a surer, funnier, wiser voice as the chapters progressed; as I neared the end, I was saddened and in a weird state of disbelief that I had to stop reading. Gray's pacing is brisk, her details confident and exact, her love of life evident and cheering. How many books have invoked the Dr. Zizmor subway ad as a really successful metaphor? Just one, I daresay.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I guess you have to be from New York to understand but I have never found barf (she's sick all the time from drinking all night) all that entertaining. Gray refers to throwing up at least three times in the first 4 chapters. This book left a bad taste in my mouth. I had a hard time reading it all the way through. All the big words in the world can't cover up lack of writing skills. I think this book perpetuates the myth that all PI's are sleezy. If all PI's were like Gray's, no one would ever hire a private investigator. Yuck!
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