Wakefield by Andrei Codrescu

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What is the connection between breast enlargement and building renovation, yoga retreats and gourmet restaurants, cell phones and globalization? Wakefield, both the title of Andrei Codrescu's hilariously absurd and brilliantly observed novel and the name of its alienated hero, examines these and other perplexities of the late twentieth century.

Picture Wakefield: He's divorced, lives alone in a comfortable, book-filled apartment in a sophisticated city. A motivational speaker, his talks leave audiences dispirited and anxious. But for this peculiar talent, he's nicely paid by corporate America, and he's in demand. Then one day the Devil shows up, walks right into Wakefield's tasteful living room, and says, "Time's up."

Just as literary Fausts have done for centuries, Wakefield makes a bargain with Satan, who as it turns out, is having his own existential crisis due to bureaucratic headaches and younger upstart demons in the afterworld. The Devil gives Wakefield a year to find an authentic life—or else it's curtains. So Wakefield travels across the country meeting New Age gurus, billionaire techno-geeks, global pioneers, gambling addicts and models who look like heroin addicts, venture capitalists, art collectors, rainforest protectors, and S and M strippers.

Andrei Codrescu brings his unique vision to the American character: our desire to change, renovate, and improve both our inner and outer worlds; to remodel not only our buildings but our bodies and minds.

Wakefield is an inspired novel—part metaphysical mystery, part travel adventure, part architectural romp—by turns funny and deadly serious.

About Andrei Codrescu

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Andrei Codrescu is a weekly commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered.
Published January 1, 2004 by Algonquin Books Chapel Hill. 320 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A rootless writer-lecturer cuts a deal with the Devil in this latest comic romp from the prolific poet, essayist, NPR commentator, and novelist (Casanova in Bohemia, 2002, etc.).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Wakefield

Publishers Weekly

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The devil has spared his life, but Wakefield may as well already be a ghost—like the devil, he stands apart, gamely philosophizing on subjects like the size of airplane seats: "The simultaneous machinery of gluttony and greed works to sacrifice the individual to corporate ego, imprisoning the bod...

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Entertainment Weekly

In Wakefield when the devil shows up in the apartment of a disillusioned motivational speaker named Wakefield, the two strike a deal over single-malt scotch.

May 28 2004 | Read Full Review of Wakefield


Wakefield is intended as a novel of big ideas, Codrescu's valiant attempt to make sense of the chaotic noise of late 20th century American culture.

Jun 24 2004 | Read Full Review of Wakefield

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