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The Book of Frank Paperback – September, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Baskerville Publishers Inc. (September 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880909286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880909287
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,847,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A boy-meets-girl story from New York's seediest streets, Black's (Me and Kev) latest mocks the holy trinity of the art world-sex, drugs and pretension. Frank, a Manhattan civil servant turned homeless indigent, whose months-long silence has become "an integral part of my performance piece," falls deeply in lust with Henry (real name Henrietta), a hipper-than-thou dilettante of the East Village art scene. In a bizarre mating ritual of public self-destruction, Frank woos her with violent happenings ("in protest of the boring stagnation taking place in the arts, in life, in our hearts") that purport to expose fraudulence and elitism but whose real aim is to impress the girl. Yet what starts as a simple come-on becomes an ironic-if obvious-commentary on the rise of insincerity and the death of art, as Frank is anointed art's new savior by the very frauds he meant to expose. Henry, however, remains decidedly unimpressed. For all its insider knowledge of the art world replete with familiar East Village locations, bizarre cast of rock stars, witch doctors and drug addicts, The Book of Frank never breaks new ground. Black's witty observations, however accurate, are as predictable as the art he ostensibly satires.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Frank Mann is an embittered, self-loathing civil servant who, as a character, would make Samuel Beckett proud. One day he quits going to work. Penniless, he is soon evicted and thrown out onto the Manhattan streets, where he falls in love with an East Village performance art dilletante. Determined to win her, he smashes a mirror, chants, and sets his head on fire in his debut as a New York performance artist, and, when this tactic fails, decides to have himself crucified on stage as the ultimate sacrifice to art. He dies, is resurrected, and never gets the girl. If the plot sounds absurd and funny, it is. The Book of Frank is comic relief, a much-needed, blistering satire of any "local art" performance scene, not just the Big Apple's. Black hilariously excoriates the piercings, psychic violence, and banal pretensions of local art communities, with their stars, sycophants, and wannabes. Though Black's novel is a welcome deflation of hip aesthetic pretensions and inanities, his satire is not generous enough to portray the "artists" in the book as genuine human beings, treating them instead, for all their superficial posings, as paper targets for rightly-aimed shots. The Book of Frank therefore indulges the one-sided, shallow behavior it so precisely and thoroughly castigates. And I don't live in New York. Greg Burkman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Justin Martin on December 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
i don't understand the sniping evident in the above 'editorial reviews' (way to be impartial, there, guys). the characters here portrayed aren't well-rounded, the guy from kirkus says. well, of COURSE they aren't well-rounded. that's the whole point. these people (and i've known people just like them, far too many people, in fact) are portrayed in didactic terms because that's how many of the ones i've met live their lives- everything is a struggle and a sacrifice for art, lookie here, i've made a sculpture out of my own feces, isn't this design great? look at the typography, it's stellar! don't you think frank black the one from the pixies is really into dadaesque poetry because he smells like he is to me- i've heard all of these things. and i've only been to art college. god only knows what actually gets bandied about when these performance artists get together and throw ideas around. i'm a firm believer in the concept of everything deserving a voice, no matter how banal or seemingly ridiculous, but i don't believe that something is art just because it's presented as such (witness jeff koons, for example). and so of course these people are silhouettes. of course this book snipes. how can you not? rational discussion of the cons of sitting naked in a tub of macaroni to protest the war in kosovo gets you nowhere, dismissed as a cynic or soulless and 'well you wouldn't understand anyway'. is this discussion open-ended? only if you've never had one. frank's decision is to crucify himself for art, ostensibly, but what i get from it at root is that he's pushed himself as far as one can go in order to refute the artistic drivel that swirls around him. how much farther can you go, not only to make a statement of purpose but one also of denial, than being nailed to a cross in public?Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on November 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have to admit I slight bias in favor of this book as I attended a publication party for it at Dallas's Club Dada a few years back. It was a great party -- one of the highlights of the '90s for me -- and as a result, I had very warm feelings towards this book for nearly a year before I actually bothered to sit down and read it. Upon reading it, I found myself both pleased and disappointed by the final product. Its an uneven book and its written for a very narrowly defined audience but that doesn't necessarily mean that its the great artistic fiasco that so many critics seem to believe it to be.
Anyway, it tells the story of social dropout Frank Mann who cynically navigates the New York performance art scene and, in order to win his dream girl, becomes a performance artist himself and descends into a world of increasing weirdness. Much of the book's humor does tend to fall flat and sometimes the plot's deliberate attempts to be quirky can leave the reader a bit weary. Its not a perfect book by any means. But it still presents a finely drawn portrait of a very insular world that will be familiar to anyone who has ever gotten involved with any local metropolitan arts scene. While many reviewers found the performance artists satirized within the book to be shallow stick figures, they are actually very accurately drawn portraits of the type of poseurs who have managed to infiltrate and, all too many times, dominate many otherwise idealistic artistic communities. If the book at times seems to be superficial, it should be remembered that Black is deliberately trying to expose just how superficial much of modern-day intellectual life has become as of late. So, in short, an uneven book but still one that many readers will find very worthwhile.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
the book of frank is a work that should be on everyone's must read list. frank is the epitome of the classic alienated, existential "everyman". i strongly recommend that this book become required reading for the masses.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KURT MEISTER on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
... will become a favorite...the type of book I find myself picking up used copies of so I can pass them along. Also check out Black's other, equally strange novel "Me and Kev".
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