Friday, March 19, 2010

(Sort of) Review: The Annotated Nose by Marc Estrin

The Annotated Nose: An Annotated Edition of William Hundwasser's Cult Classic The NoseTitle: The Annotated Nose: An Annotated Edition of William Hundwasser's Cult Classic The Nose

Authors: Marc Estrin, Delia Robinson and Alexei Pigov

Pages: 418

Source: Interlibrary loan

Rating: I'm not going to give an official rating, as I was unable to finish the book

Summary (From

The most unlikely life of a most unsightly man. Marc Estrin discovers that another writer's novel-THE NOSE- not only has spawned a bizarre cult among the nation's youth but also is based on the extraordinary life of a real person-an outcast named Alexei Pigov. Estrin searches Alexei out and ask him to provide annotations to THE NOSE. Alexei says that-although the events of the novel might, for the most part, be real-the purported reasons for them are all damnable lies. On the left-hand page of The Annotated Nose we read THE NOSE itself, and take in its beautifully unsettling illustrations by Delia Robinson. On the right-hand page we follow Alexei's complaints-always surprising and often farreaching. The layers in Estrin's remarkable comic book are as multiple, eclectric, and outrageous as the sequence of mask Alexei wears to hide his face from the world over the caroming trajectory of hie most unlikely life. The Annotated Nose is at once Marc Estrin's most playful and most ambitious work to date. 

My Two Cents:

This book had a lot going for it. It is one of the most well-produced books I have ever read: It's heavy, the typeface and layout are interesting and the black-and-white illustrations are gorgeous. The concept is one of the most intriguing out there: The author, Marc Estrin, claims to have attended a lecture at a college by a man with a huge cult following. He discovers that the man's cult following stems from a book that has become a non-conformists' bible. So, he tracks down the book's subject, Alexei Pigov, a man with a large nose and an even larger personality. Pigov wants to set the record straight: While most of the events in The Nose are true, he claims that William Hundwasser embellished too much.

At first, I was enamored with both the "original" text of The Nose and with Pigov's "annotations." Both were sarcastic and well-written, my personal hallmarks of a good satire. But, after the first 100 pages or so, it just became too much. The "Hundwasser" portions were just trying too hard to be clever, and the "annotations" were too snarky. I tried to power through it, but only made another 40 pages before I gave in. I just couldn't finish this book.

Even though the book became too much for me and I had to put it down, it really was well-written. I think I might seek out Estrin's other, less ambitious books to see what a full text from him is like. I loved all the allusions (I'm really big on allusions), especially when lesser-known writers and artists were referred to.

I do wish this book hadn't just beaten me over the head with the sarcasm and anger. I think I would have enjoyed the rest of it.

I attempted to read this book as part of the Spotlight Series on Unbridled Books, which was created to shine a light on the quality books produced by small-press publishers. For more information, or to visit the other blogs participating in the spotlight, visit the blog.


bermudaonion said...

Sorry this didn't work for you.

Aarti said...

Thank you very much for participating. This book really intrigued me with its premise, so I'm glad you read it and were able to share it with us. It sounds, as you say, really well-thought out and presented. I think if I see it in the library, I'll flip through the pages at least!

Jenners said...

I don't know if I really even understand what the book is about!

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