Augustus Rose paints the portrait of the unique heroine Lee Cuddy with the skill of a gifted artist. His talent is a fitting match to the core theme of The Readymade Thief, which revolves around the imagined final masterwork of Marcel Duchamp. Lee is a beautiful yet insecure teenage girl who finds acceptance from her peer group when she discovers she has an extraordinary skill – shoplifting. But her newfound security doesn’t last long as her path leads her through the darkest corners of society. Living on humanity’s raw and ragged edge, she is drawn into a drug culture while simultaneously being hunted down by a dark secret organization that already counts her as a pivotable member although she doesn’t know why. Trying to avoid their pursuit while also attempting to understand why she is so meaningful to them, creates a story that is unusual, strangely lovely, and deeply satisfying.
The Readymade Thief is a gorgeous masterwork of complex characters, ambitions, dreams, art, and science that questions the line between ugly and beautiful, right and wrong, dreams and nightmares. Rose combines the grand themes of the power of art and the unification of science and the metaphysical with the journey of one girl living a life that is far outside the norm. He succeeds in bringing it all together in a story that is an exciting and fascinating read whether one has ever heard of Marcel Duchamp or Grand Unified Theory. But for the reader for whom art and science, and how it entwines with society holds deep philosophical interest, it is a real treasure.
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Augustus Rose is a novelist and screenwriter. He was born in the northern California coastal town of Bolinas and grew up there and in San Fransico. He lives in Chicago with his wife and son and teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago.