Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes by Daniel Kehlmann (Translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway)
Publication Date: September 2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 192 pp
(Received for review from Pantheon)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
Imagine being famous. Being recognized on the street, adored by people who have never met you, known the world over. Wouldn't that be great?
But what if, one day, you got stuck in a country where celebrity means nothing, where no one spoke your language and you didn't speak theirs, where no one knew your face (no book jackets, no TV) and you had no way of calling home? How would your fame help you then?
What if someone got hold of your cell phone? What if they spoke to your girlfriends, your agent, your director, and started making decisions for you? and worse, what if no one believed you were you anymore? When you saw a look-alike playing your roles for you, what would you do?
And what if one day you realized your magnum opus, like everything else you'd ever written, was a total waste of time, empty nonsense? What would you do next? Would your audience of seven million people keep you going? Or would you lose the capacity to keep on doing it?
Fame and facelessness, truth and deception, spin their way through all nine episodes of this captivating, wickedly funny, and perpetually surprising novelas paths cross and plots thicken, as characters become real people and real people morph into characters. The result is dazzling tour de force by one of Europe's finest young writers.
Daniel Kehlmann, author of Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes takes an interesting view of the bonds that separate reality from fiction. He centers his book around nine seemingly un-related episodes and shows the reader how interconnected we really are.
First, Ebling goes out to buy a new cell phone and is assigned a number belonging to a famous star. He starts answering the phone as Tanner, the star and making decisions for him. Then we see Tanner who has had to take on an assumed name because of all the chaos from Ebling answering his phone. Then we see the sales person who sold Ebling the phone and gave him the wrong number in the first place and how it effects his life. Along with several other characters who have become connected through one act or another. The ripple effect. Throw one stone in and see how it affects the entire lake.
Kehlmann also delves into the idea of who we really are. We have become so connected to technology like cell phones and the internet, we have lost our uniqueness. We create fictionalized lives for ourselves under screen names and post video's on You-Tube and other sites and chat in nameless rooms, but is that person really us, or is it a persona we have created? Are we really real or are we that person we pretend to be? Where is the line between reality and technology leaving us?
I really found this book interesting. I love the idea that everything we do is somehow connected to something that effects tons of people. That should really make us think, when we make even the simplest of decisions. The idea of identity is also handled with great clarity. I use a pen name when I write, I use a screen name on my blog for the most part. I have 'handles' and other kinds of names that I use on the internet. Am I really showing my true personality or someone I want to be or just someone I made up... really interesting stuff.
This book has sad parts, really funny parts and parts that just make you go... Wow! Do I do that? It explores ideas that we face on a daily basis in today's society and puts a realistic face on fame. When you start reading it you think it's outside the box, but then you realize, it really hits home.
Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I am giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Here is some additional information about Daniel Kehlmann.
Daniel Kehlmann's Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages. Awards his work has received include the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kliest Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Kehlmann divides his time between Vienna and Berlin.