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Fair Warning: A Novel Paperback – November 22, 2002
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Writers should be wary of titles that can be used against them. Fair Warning is just what the reader may need when considering this sparkling but featherweight depiction of the auction world. In his 11th novel, celebrated writer Robert Olen Butler explores the allure of possession. Amy Dickerson is a charismatic and penetrating auctioneer, the star of her New York auction house, who feels as comfortable flirting from the podium as extolling the virtues of a minor Rembrandt nude. Needless to say, she's slender, rich, and beautiful. Enter Alain Bouchard, the charming, well-educated, and too-good-to-be-true Frenchman who is buying her auction house--and trying to acquire Amy too. Although there are some lovely passages in Fair Warning, and it avoids the stock romantic ending that it appears to lean toward, Butler relies too much on the glamour of great wealth. Ultimately, he ends up short-changing the reader. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In a novel based on an award-winning short story, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) posits a theory: in this world, everyone must own or be owned. As a high-profile New York auctioneer, transplanted Texan Amy Dickerson knows this well. She sees it reflected both in the items she tempts her clients with and in her closest relationships. Amy has never allowed herself to be vulnerable to love, her sister's marriage is on the rocks, and her entire family struggles with the memory of her philandering father, who isolated his wife and carefully parceled out his emotions with his daughters. Amy's independence is tested by a gentle and sophisticated suitor who happens to be her new boss; he may or may not be able to break through her barriers. Butler is very much in romance-novel territory here, but he transcends the formula with his usual aptitude for finding exactly the right words to make the familiar patterns of love and desire seem fresh again. An excellent introduction to readers unfamiliar with Butler's work; highly recommended.
- Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
But as usual, Butler takes on the role of a female character for his protagonist. In this impressive and interesting stream of consciousness presentation Butler reveals the innermost mental meanderings of a lady who is in a wonderful position in life, all she has to do is figure out who she wants to marry.
As an auctioneer, she is obsessed with collectors and valuation. This predilection would be most natural for a person who does such activity every day of her life. But what she had not thought much about is that people can also be collectors of people and memories. In a sense, all people are collectors of memories. And this concept is highly relevant to her when she is making certain life-impacting decisions.
Truly a fine modern novel, it is recommended to all those who are interested in the inner workings of the female mind, as Butler sees it. Since this is often his authorial position and since he has some incredible insight into the workings of the human mind, his book comes as no surprise.
The book is recommended for all readers of classic literature, particularly those interested in gender analysis. Once again, this book is a fine offering from Mr. Olen Butler.
The main enjoyment of this novel comes from a character study in the form of its protagonist, Amy Dickerson. She is an auctioneer for a small but prestigious Manhattan auction house. She has a natural ability to read and understand people which makes her very good at her job. She is able to see what people are willing to part with in terms of both money and objects. On the other hand, this ability interferes with her relationships both with her family and her potential lovers. While longing for the ethereal herself, she can only see people's material wants and that includes a person's desire for her. In the end, she must try to see her own desires most clearly and come to peace with them.
This is a nice little book. Butler's prose is quite engaging and the book is short enough to be read at a single sitting. Amy and her relationships do make for a fun glimpse into an upper class New York/Paris world. I was tripped up a bit at the end by Alain's neo-Naked Pictures of My Ex-Girlfriends obsession which seemed a bit of a cheap ruse in an otherwise very emotionally realistic novel. Still, it is certainly worth the time.
This is a book of subjective reflection by a two dimensional main character surrounded by other two dimensional charictatures. What would make a reader care for any of these cardboard cutouts? None are developed to the point where they hold interest, much less engender affection or empathy.
If this novel did not appear to hold itself out as a study of interiority and self-reflection -- a devling into the soul of the main character -- perhaps then the lack of depth and nuance would be less irritating. If Butler has decided he now wants to write "romance novels," then he better add some of the juice of "They Whisper." If , on the other hand, he wishes to continue to hold the attention of "literary fiction" readers, I suggest a little more meat on the bones of this very boney effort.
Amy Dickerson is the daughter of a wealthy Texan with interests in oil and cattle. From her first cattle auction she is bitten by the thrill of the auction, the chase after prized objects. Everything is assessed in terms of a market value, which distorts the inherent value of the object in question. Later, when Amy becomes a connoisseur of antiquities and a star auctioneer in a prestigious New York auction house, she discovers that even people, including herself, are assessed the same way. Slowly she seeks to extricate herself from these distorted perceptions - to be herself and to be seen and valued for herself. This disturbs her relations with the men in her life. The final scene is unexpected, but the suspense has been building for pages.
Part romance, part hard-boiled Raymond Chandler suspense, part New York City hustle, this is a good read but will not greatly enhance Robert Olen Butler's reputation as a literary giant.