So I’d never heard of Augustus Rose until I saw a poster advertising that he was giving a reading at Books Inc. in Alameda in September 2017. So I grabbed a copy of his first novel, The Readymade Thief, and dove in.
I wasn’t finished with it by the time the reading happened, and unfortunately I encountered a pretty significant spoiler by attending the reading, but it didn’t spoil the overall experience I had reading the book.
The Readymade Thief is somehow both dark and light and airy. Though its central protagonist, Lee Cuddy, is a young woman who encounters some very harrowing circumstances, including running away from home, living on the streets, drug abuse, sexual harassment, a narrow escape from a life of human trafficking—and all while being constantly on the run from a mysterious cabal—she nevertheless also comes of age, experiences young love, and grows into a strong and hopeful woman before our eyes.
It’s kind of a jigsaw puzzle of a book, where we readers are right there with Lee trying to figure out what the hell is happening to her, and trying to decode the mysterious clues that she encounters along the way. In some ways, it unfolds like a spy novel or a very suspenseful Hollywood thriller, and I’m loathe to give anything away by describing even cursorily its details.
It’s a great story that will keep you glued to your seat, so to speak, and it has one additional selling point. If you’re a fan of modern art, or if you want to learn more about modern art, there’s this whole element of the novel that centers around the works of Marcel Duchamp, and you’ll learn a whole ton about his career and his importance in art history all while being entertained by Rose’s story in which this history is packaged.
Read it. It’s a fascinating book, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to whatever Mr. Rose produces next.