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Out of My Skin A Novel

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Out of My Skin A Novel by Haskell, John, 9780374299095
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  • ISBN: 9780374299095 | 0374299099
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2/3/2009
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Los Angeles. A would-be movie reviewer, looking for romance, takes an assignment to write a magazine article about celebrity look-alikes. After getting to know a Steve Martin impersonator, the writer decides to undertake his own process of transformation and becomes not Steve Martin but a version of himgraceful, charming, at home in the world. Safe in the guise of "Steve," he begins to fall in love. And that's when "Steve" takes over. Set in the capital of illusion, this is a story of one man's journey into paradiseand his attempt to come out the other side. John Haskellis the author ofAmerican Purgatorioand of the short-story collectionI Am Not Jackson Pollock. A contributor to the radio programThe Next Big Thing, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.Los Angeles. A would-be movie reviewer, looking for romance, takes an assignment to write a magazine article about celebrity look-alikes. After getting to know a Steve Martin impersonator, the writer decides to undertake his own process of transformation and becomes not Steve Martin but a version of himgraceful, charming, at home in the world. Safe in the guise of "Steve," he begins to fall in love. And that's when "Steve" takes over. Set in the capital of illusion, this is a story of one man's journey into paradiseand his attempt to come out the other side."Gutsy, weirdly engrossing . . . This strange, moving book has done just what a first novel should."Taylor Antrim,The New York Times Book Review "In his first book, the story collectionI Am Not Jackson Pollock, and his novel that followed,American Purgatorio, John Haskell has messed around with the idea of the imprisoned self. It makes sense that, as a performer and a writer for the theater, Haskell would explore the possibilities and limits of identity. Referring to the stories inJackson Pollock, in which the writer inhabits Pollock, the pianist Glenn Gould, various Hitchcock characters, Topsy the elephant and Joan of Arc, Haskell has said his books are meant to be read aloud, performed.Out of My Skinfits squarely in the comic-pathetic, imprisoned self literary lineage, with one small problem: It's not exactly a novel. A novel is part monologue, part marathon. The protagonist plummets through space, transformed, exhausted by the unfolding of events. He grows, mutates, reproduces, has revelations, changes his behavior or stays the same, but does not leave his skin. He is trapped, like all the rest of us, in his self. The novel is a frame, not a mask. It is the skin around the organism, the story. The book has Haskell's signature tonea struggle for precision that can sometimes feel like a writing exercisecombined with a kind of polished insouciance. He's going to parse his way through the surface of things down to the bone, no matter who's watching or how long it takes. The beautiful thing is that he never gets there. There is no resolution, no certainty, just a determined plodding, which is somehow never dull. Revelations animate novels; they give the writer something to pivot on; their utter absence in Haskell's writing feels modern. Here we are, no religion, no single meaning, just a hall of mirrors that is reality. At first, needing a box to put it in, I thoughtOut of My Skinwas more essay than novel. Haskell adds a love story, which gives the book a shape and a frame and a place to end, but it is secondary to his thinking about the role of the self and the nature of identity. This book is a rebellion against the novel, even as it inhabits the form."Susan Salter Reynolds,Los AngelesTimes "Earl

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