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Unlubricated: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, September 28, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 28, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a title like Unlubricated and an epigram by radical feminist Valerie Solanas ("Eliminate men and women will shape up"), Nersesian (Chinese Takeout, etc.) foregrounds his countercultural chops in his latest chronicle of lower Manhattan's demimonde. Nersesian's raw, smutty sensibility is perfect for capturing the gritty city artistic life, but this novel has as much substance as style. In the dramatic, agonizing aftermath of 9/11, a scrappy young actress named Hannah struggles to make something of herself. When she overhears a man discussing Unlubricated, a "lost work" by a deceased Solanasesque author named Lilly Bull, she strong-arms him (after all, she saved his life in college) into letting her act in and produce the play. The book quickly develops into a fast-paced, sexy ensemble play-within-a-play, populated by a cast of wonderfully drawn characters, including a pathologically self-important British director and a drug-addled actor on a very slippery slope. Nersesian continuously ratchets up the suspense, always keeping the fate of the production uncertain—and at the last minute he throws a curveball that makes the previous chaos calm by comparison. Nersesian is a first-rate observer of his native New York, and while the book is a little long-winded and slow to start, and the denouement feels a bit hokey, these are minor squeaks in an otherwise slick, well-oiled machine.
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“This book was a real delight--fast and funny and pure New York. Unlubricated has only one flaw: it ends.” (Steve Kluger, author of Almost Like Being in Love and Last Days of Summer )

“[Nersesian] knows his territory intimately and paces the escalating chaos with a precision that would do Wodehouse proud.” (Time Out New York )

“Nersesian makes us eager to see what happens when the curtain finally rises.” (New York Times Book Review )

“A pitch-perfect approximation of the New York artistic life.” (Entertainment Weekly )

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060734116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060734114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,500,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First and foremost: thank you Arthur Nersesian.

This novel was like his others in that it was a fantastic read, had well developed characters, dynamic in that Nersesian has given them an original personality with their own original drives and personalties; and yet they are people we identify with because we know or have known them in life. Nersesian has once again put us in the life of a starving artist in New York. Instead of the art world of New York coupled with the life of living out of a van in Chinese Take Out, we follow an actress/producer through the world of just what actresses will do to be casted and also what writers are sometimes forced to do just to be published coupled with eviction court and just how hard it is to find a reasonable living arrangement. The naivety of the publisher and also the writer coupled with their strong New York street smarts creates a powerful dichotomy that seems to mirror the confusion and horror of the backdrop of this novel: New York city late 2001. Arthur Nersesian shines here as well as he deals this dark hour in our American history and of course in the history of New York City. As I saw the unbelieveably surreal horror that was September eleventh unfold again before me through the eyes of a New Yorker I began to empathize with the people that have had their lives and their homes changed forever. I also sweel with pride now when I put on my I "heart" New York shirt...through Nersesians writings I have truly developed a love for the city and also understand what makes the citizens so strong and special.
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By J-Man on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just read this New York novel over about a week's time, and found the story compelling me more and more to invest myself in it. It's a good story, filled with lots of realistically selfish and jerk-like characters all bunched together into situations that require alcohol to tolerate the time, or some other carrot like sex, money or fame. The author chose to put his story up against a difficult backdrop of history, which I found inconveniently and unexpectedly awkward and tragic - just like the real thing.

With lots of details to the ins & outs of producing a theatrical play and narrated by a robustly focused female protagonist voice, "Unlubricated" starts off with a stiff pain that grows a bit soar, eventually coming to an intense, slippery and messy end.
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Format: Paperback
Arthur Nersesian has written another funny street-smart novel about trying to make it as a young artist in New York. Unlubricated tells the tale of Hannah Cohn, a young actress trying to get cast in a serious role. Everybody knows how hard it is to launch an acting career, and how crazy young actors can be. So when Hannah gets control of a previously unknown great play by a well-known but now deceased author, she thinks she has found the path to jump start her career by taking one of the leading roles. Moreover, given that she and everybody she knows is stone broke, the trick is to mount a credible production on a shoestring.

The great thing about Arthur Nersesian's work is that he knows the downtown New York scene and he's able to portray it in every detail: the chic shops and restaurants, the little corner delis, the cobblestoned streets, the drunks spilling out on the streets late at night: it's all there. And he conjures up believable characters, messy mixes of ambition, talent, vanity and odd personal weaknesses. From this hothouse world of conflicting desires and personalities, Nersesian has a gift for telling his story in an hilarious but dead-on way. There were many scenes that were just laugh-out loud funny, but wholly credible. There were some things I didn't love about this novel: the ending seemed a little tacked on, and although the events of 9/11 play a role in the story, I found some of the description of the events of the day extraneous. I don't doubt that 9/11 moved Nersesian, as it did anybody who was there that day, but it felt like an unnecessary back-story. But overall it was a fast-paced and very enjoyable novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gets bogged down in details, and the writing could be a lot more crisp (see Moody's The Diviners - a similar take on indie film). Mostly likeable for its use of NYC locales, while the confused characters try to put on independent theater productions, while sleeping around as much as possible. The voice of the protagonist is not convincing -- I doubt any woman, lipstick lesbians included, thinks about sex in baseball metaphors. Maybe the author thought he could get away with lapses in point of view if he made her a lesbian? Don't they think like men? I don't know. She just wasn't convincing for me, and it wasn't funny enough to read as satire. Read The Diviners instead.
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