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Theft Paperback – May 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Two-time Booker-winner Carey (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang) returns with a magnificent high-stakes art heist wrapped around a fraternal saga. Butcher Boone is an all-id all-the-time Australian painter of enormous talent and renown. Now divorced and bankrupted by his former wife, who tired of his excesses, Butcher has been reduced to caretaking a remote estate for his largest collector. And since the deaths of his working-class parents, he has also been saddled with his beloved, bedeviling brother, Hugh, who, like Butcher, has a primarily pugilistic relationship with the world. One rain-flooded night, a chic young woman knocks on their door, having lost her way. She is Marlene, wife of Olivier Leibovitz, son and heir to an early 20th-century master. Soon the brothers are embroiled in an international crime investigation that eventually comprises forgery, vast sums of money and murder. None of this, however, distracts Butcher from his overpowering love affair with Marlene, which threatens to leave Hugh stranded in an unforgiving world. Scenes in Australia, Japan and New York feature unique forms of fleecing, but setting and action are icing on the emotional core of Carey's newest masterwork. 75,000 announced first printing. (May 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

While it may not reach the aesthetic heights of his Booker Prize?winning novels Oscar and Lucinda and The True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey's new work is no fraud. His masterful use of voice is present here in the alternating (if unreliable) narration of Michael and his brother Hugh. For all the accomplished circuitousness of his plot and "jewel-encrusted prose" (Esquire), especially that focused on the painting process, the real strength of the novel lies in the relationship between the Boone brothers. In fact, many reviewers feel the thriller premise distracts Carey from his strengths.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307276481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307276483
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Peter Carey continues his theme of artistic fraud and deception that he wrote about in his last novel MY LIFE AS A FAKE in THEFT: A LOVE STORY, his latest tour de force. Michael (Butcher) Boone, a once successful Australian painter, is recently divorced and down and out when he meets the magical and beautiful Marlene Lieboviz, who is married to the son of he famous painter Jacques Liebovitz. What follows is a page-turner that is at once the account of a passionate obsession-- Michael and Marlene's-- familial loyalty-- Michael and his "damaged" brother Hugh's-- as well as a tale of intrigue that spans Australia, Japan, the United States and Germany.

Mr. Carey tells his story from the alternating viewpoints of Butcher and his brother Hugh in language that is dense, accurate and often beautiful beyond description. Anyone who has ever ridden in a New York cab will recognize this truth: "The taxis in New York are a total nightmare. I don't know how anybody tolerates them, and I am not complaining about the eviscerated seats, the s----- shock absorbers, the suicidal lefthand turns, but rather the common faith of all those Malaysian Sikhs, Bengali Hindus, Harlem Muslims, Lebanese Christians, Coney Island Russians, Brooklyn Jews, Buddhists, Zarathustrians-- who knows what?--all of them with rock-solid conviction that if you honk your bloody horn the sea will part before you." (p. 194.)Australian petty law enforcement types are described as "midgets of officialdom" who swarm "like a white-ant hatch." Finally Mr. Carey through the voice of Michael, piles paragraph upon paragraph, much as the artist applies layers of paint on his canvases, of beautiful descriptions of Marlene, often in terms of color as you would expect from a painter: "Her eyes.
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Format: Hardcover
Two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey writes his most dazzling novel yet, a send-up of the art world, filled with satire about dealers, auction houses, compulsive collectors, forgers, conservators and technicians, art researchers, catalogue writers, and even the artists themselves. At the same time, he also creates two splendid characters through whose limited vision this world is viewed--Michael "Butcher" Boone, a formerly successful Australian avant-garde artist, now experiencing hard times, and his "slow" brother Hugh, a 220-pound giant with little control over his emotions and a penchant for breaking the little fingers of annoying people.

Butcher, recently released from prison after trying to steal back his own paintings, which were declared "marital assets" during a nasty divorce, is now living in northern New South Wales, as caretaker for the property of his biggest collector. He is also the full-time caretaker of his brother, "Hugh the Poet and Hugh the Murderer, Hugh the Idiot Savant."

When Butcher rescues Marlene Leibovitz from her partially submerged car during a flood, the "chance" meeting has long-range consequences. Marlene is the wife of Olivier Leibovitz, son of Jacques Leibovitz, a world-class artist whose paintings are nearly priceless. She has the power to authenticate Leibovitz paintings (the "droit moral") and effectively controls the Liebovitz market as undocumented paintings surface. She has arrived to document the "Leibovitz" belonging to Butcher's next door neighbor, a painting which promptly disappears.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on December 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
The story is told in alternating chapters by two brothers - renown artist Michael Boone (aka 'Butcher Bones') and his idiot-savante brother, Hugh ('Slow Bones').

Recently released from prison where he was sent for trying to steal his own paintings from his ex-wife (and here is where the alimony whore comes in) he is installed in a country house by his 'sponsor' and begins to make some of the best art of his life. Across huge canvasses he splashes fire and brimstone texts remembered from his violent and abusive childhood, the full scale of which only gradually becomes apparent.

And then one stormy night there walks into his life (in her Manolo Blahniks - important detail) a beautiful young woman who claims to have lost her way. Marlene is the wife of Oliver Leibovitz, son of one of the greatest artists of the century. She's also an accomplised art thief and con-woman. Both brothers fall in love with her ... which fits into her plans just nicely. And thus begins a rollicking tale of art theft and deception which moves from Australia to New York via Tokyo.

Love-story, thriller, comedy ... the novel is all of these. But the greatest strength of the novel is the depiction of the complicated love-hate relationship between the brothers. The interplay of voices is excellent, and the way the two accounts give sometimes contradictory views of events, the "truth" of things falling somewhere between them. Hugh may not be the full shilling, but he is certainly astute and in many ways sees the world more clearly than his brother. I love the way his talk is peppered with phrases picked up from everyone else and is full of malapropisms.
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