STARRED REVIEW
August 01, 2017

On the run from a secret art society

By Augustus Rose
Review by

The Readymade Thief features ingenious, culture-altering teens resembling another recent debut novel, Rules for Werewolves by Kirk Lynn. Rose’s work entertains as well as invites us to think and imagine, as though we’re part of the conceit.

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“What do you do when the one true thing in your life turns out to be a lie?” Lee Cuddy, the main character in Augustus Rose’s debut novel, spends the book deciding whom to trust. At 17, she steals for friends, but when the friends who’ve been benefiting from her thievery betray her, she’s sent to a juvenile detention center for a crime she ironically didn’t commit. She escapes—into the hands of a nefarious Philadelphia network of Marcel Duchamp fans, The Société Anonyme. She trusts them until she links the glassy-eyed, obliging kids from the mental ward of her detention center to Société Anoyme’s raves. To escape the Société requires all her thieving skills, navigating the Subnet (Rose’s conception of a network akin to Silk Road or 4Chan), urban exploration and her own instinct. Lee becomes an artist herself, as defined by Duchamp: “a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his own way out to a clearing.” A true heroine, Lee forges her own path and finds her own truth.

The story is structured like the Duchamp piece at its center, the elusive “Large Glass.” Like the nine bachelors in the artwork, The Readymade Thief is composed of nine books, with multiple chapters each. Steadily linear in chronology, it manages to digress into quantum and philosophical exploration without losing pace. (Keep up with the discussion using the resources cited at the end.) While much of the action takes place in dark, dirty subterranean spaces, the tone is expansive; Lee’s voice soars, a testament to her male creator.

The Readymade Thief features ingenious, culture-altering teens resembling another recent debut novel, Rules for Werewolves by Kirk Lynn. Rose’s work entertains as well as invites us to think and imagine, as though we’re part of the conceit.

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The Readymade Thief

The Readymade Thief

By Augustus Rose
Viking
ISBN 9780735221833

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