Your audiobook is waiting…

Poser

Narrated by: Robert Fass
Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

All his life, Giovanni Bernini has possessed an uncanny gift: He can imitate anyone he meets. Honed by his mother at a young age, the talent catapults him from small-town obscurity to stardom.

As Giovanni describes it, "No one's disguise is perfect. There is in every person, no matter how graceful, a seam, a thread curling out of them... When pulled by the right hands, it will unravel the person entire." As his fame grows, Giovanni encounters a beautiful and enigmatic stage singer, Lucy Starlight - the only person whose thread he cannot find - and becomes increasingly trapped inside his many poses. Ultimately, he must assume the one identity he has never been able to master: his own.

In the vein of Jonathan Lethem's and Kevin Wilson's playful surrealism, Jacob Rubin's The Poser is the debut of a major literary voice, a masterfully written, deeply original comic novel, and the moving story of a man who must risk everything for the chance to save his life and know true love.

©2015 Jacob Rubin, by arrangement with Viking Books. (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

" The Poser is smart and grand and funny, a wonderful fable. Mr. Rubin is a great hope for comic fiction in the 21st century. He's got the spirit and the ear." (Sam Lipsyte, New York Times best-selling author of The Ask)
"I yawped - because when you read a book as exquisite as The Poser, you yawp. Have you ever met a character like Giovanni Bernini? My heart breaks even now. With astonishing control, Mr. Rubin has created the perfect comic noir tragedy of mimicry and betrayal, of great love and greater loss. Bernini is one of fiction's great ciphers and his parallel universe is such a good imitation of our universe I can no longer distinguish which is which. This is a novel that will be loved and admired for years to come." (Reif Larsen, New York Times best-selling author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet and I Am Radar
"Jacob Rubin's The Poser is a tour de force of voice, a genius act of ventriloquism, a terrific novel. From the opening you'll be hooked, as I was, and you'll love it all the way through." (Tom Franklin, New York Times best-selling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    7
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 10-13-18

Remarkable Mimic at the Heart of Personal Story

I came across this one when I was looking into some questions of impersonation and politics and found that Rubin had written a thoughtful essay on Dana Carvey’s take on George H. Bush. I thought it was very well done, and it didn’t hurt that I share his opinion that Carvey introduced a new twist into Saturday Night Live’s political discourse with that act.

In any case, this novel starts out beautifully as it fulfills a difficult ambition. Giovanni can impersonate anyone. He’s a prodigy; even as an infant even he responded to the facial expressions greeting him. To make this work, Rubin has to be a skilled mimic himself, has to be able to perform one voice after another on the page.

And, for most of this, he is. The guy can write, and the joy of discovering that in this, his first novel is part of what makes reading it so rewarding. It’s a novel that carries with it some of the weight of the act that Giovanni puts together and then performs in a seedy little theater.

So the character and context here are terrific. The story that develops in that space takes more time, and, while it starts out just as impressively, it tails off toward the end.

Initially, Giovanni finds himself drawn to impersonating others because it seems he may have no self at the core of his identity. When Max, a two-bit show biz manager finds him, he gives Giovanni someone to imitate. Through that mimicry, Giovanni finds a public pose that allows him to market his skill. Max is a bit of shyster, but he’s ultimately loveable, and that gives Giovanni a purpose.

From there, Giovanni finds himself drawn to imitating Bernie, a much more serious theater owner. Bernie represents a more sinister allure than the pleasantly shady Max. He’s aggressive in business, disparaging of those who work for him, and ultimately ruthless. If you throw in Lucy, a not-so-talented singer-actress who may or may not be the first person (beyond his controlling mother) to love Giovanni, and you have an almost mythic array of characters and relationships.

The novel starts to weaken a little when Rubin has to move those characters into new situations and settings. We leave the Broadway-like setting of the first two-thirds or so and wind up, first, in Hollywood where Giovanni becomes an unlikely movie star, and then in a less clear context where he becomes a right-wing political provocateur. Shaped by Bernie, he brings his capacity for mimicry to the campaign trail, and he weds his gifts to a cruel species of politics.

The novel is two or three years old, but, in that respect, it feels as if it’s anticipating Trump in the way that Kosinski’s Being There anticipated Reagan. Where that previously unthinkable empty suit candidacy was central to the whole novel, though, this feels somewhat appended. It’s not, ultimately, a political or even social novel. At its best, and that best is impressive, it’s a personal one.

The tragedy of Giovanni’s life is that he’s not sure he can find himself beneath the voices of others that he wears like a protective suit. Rubin gets back to that in the end, after his detour into perhaps too-public a life, and brings those ideas back as Giovanni meets a peculiar therapist who mostly understands him.

It’s not a complaint to say that this excellent set-piece veers a bit too long into picaresque. Rather, I’d be happy to try to imitate Rubin myself since I’m awfully impressed by what he’s pulled off.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Raleigh
  • greensboro, NC, United States
  • 07-07-16

metaphor for the intellectual immigrant

? have you been regularly forced to immigrate or relocate
? has your life's " deck of cards " frequently been reshuffled
? were you often forced to meet new incentives and expectations

jacob rubin has written a brilliant and imaginative novel for you
it is, i suspect, a metaphor for the intellectual immigrant experience
the book's title character has a deep gift for insightful mimicry and imitation

with dazzling prose, rubin then weaves this gift into character and plot
immigration involves relentless demands on perception and response
new situations with new demands and new expectations arrive daily

without intellectual gifts, this becomes a crushing, defeating experience
but the quick and gifted learn to read the social clues and be " a good poser "
it is this insight and imitation that allow them to succeed in their new home

SIDE NOTE : elmore leonard famously said " if it sounds like writing, i rewrite it "
there are long stretches of this novel that sound like extraordinary writing
some people enjoy that, others think it gets in the way of the storytelling


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent novel Read very well

Such a great experience listening to this great first novel by Mr Rubin. Highest recommendation. More than words can express

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Awful

Picked this for book club- based on the description, out of 7 of us all 7 thought it absolutely horrible. The description was misleading and had nothing to do with how the story and plot actually unfolded.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful