Book Review: Me and Kaminski by Daniel Kehlmann

Title: Me and Kaminski

Author: Daniel Kehlmann

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 208

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this book didn’t work for me. It certainly had its good qualities and I didn’t exactly dislike it, but I wouldn’t say I recommended it either. You Should Have Left was better, and I would recommend that one instead if you want to try getting into the work of this author.

The main character, Sebastian Zollner, is trying for his big break writing a biography of acclaimed but reclusive artist Kaminski. Kaminski is a narcissist and manipulator and his brow-beaten daughter’s life revolves around managing him. Sebastian wants to get as much info on Kaminski as possible for the biography, which he is struggling to write.

He ‘kidnaps’ the willing Kaminski to visit the old man’s lost love, unexpectedly forging a connection with him in the process. Sebastian was a total dick but that’s okay, not all protagonists have to be likable. He’s exceedingly bitter and makes an issue out of everything, like George Costanza from Seinfeld.

He also comes off as extremely judgmental of everyone (especially women) and seems to bitch about the food every time he eats out. We don’t really know much of anything about his character, except that his relationship with his ex-wife sucks (they’re still living together but she’s met a new guy and is kicking him out.) His backstory is minimal and he certainly doesn’t have any substantial character arc.

I didn’t really understand the bond he forms with Kaminski over the course of the book or the affinity he eventually feels for him, other than their failed relationships and both being douches. There wasn’t enough time developing their relationship and I felt like I was missing something. It had potential but mostly made me go huh?

That said, Sebastian and Kaminski are both fairly believable characters and Kaminski’s involvement in the art world and different stylistic ‘periods’ are intriguing and make you feel like you’re reading about a real artist. It’s competently written, even entertaining at times, but I like books that provoke some kind of emotional reaction from me or a connection to the plot and characters and this one just left me cold.


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