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1. Being There
2. Cockpit (Kosinski, Jerzy)
3. The Painted Bird
4. Pinball (Kosinski, Jerzy)
5. Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography
6. Steps
7. Blind Date (Kosinski, Jerzy)
8. Cockpit
9. Passion Play (Kosinski, Jerzy)
10. Passing By: Selected Essays, 1962-1991
11. The Devil Tree
12. Words in Search of Victims: The
13. Passion Play
14. Being There
15. Jerzy Kosinski: An Annotated Bibliography
16. Jerzy Kosinski (Twayne's United
17. Jerzy Kosinski: Eine Einfuhrung
18. Jerzy Kosinski: The Literature
19. Conversations with Jerzy Kosinski
20. John Barth, Jerzy Kosinski, and

1. Being There
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 160 Pages (1999-09-20)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$5.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802136346
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A modern classic now available from Grove Press, Being There is one of the most popular and significant works from a writer of international stature. It is the story of Chauncey Gardiner - Chance, an enigmatic but distinguished man who emerges from nowhere to become an heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon, a presidential policy adviser, and a media icon. Truly "a man without qualities," Chance's straightforward responses to popular concerns are heralded as visionary. But though everyone is quoting him, no one is sure what he's really saying. And filling in the blanks in his background proves impossible. Being There is a brilliantly satiric look at the unreality of American media culture that is, if anything, more trenchant now than ever. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (85)

1-0 out of 5 stars Poor quality
I thought I was recieivng this item with a few marking in it, it was covered in written notes and poor high lighting...

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilariously Written Commentary
Chance, an idiot savant finds himself in situations where, by association with an extraordinarily rich and socially connected couple, his simple words are treated as metaphors for society's problems.He is quoted extensively all the while maintaining that he doesn't read, and constantly watches television.His sound bites infiltrate the highest echelons of government, and society, and unfortunately, the possibility of something like this happening seems all too likely.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Candide" for the media age
As the film and the novel differ only sligthly, I've decided to post the same review for both.

Kosinski's satire isn't limited to the effects of media culture on people and society -- it productively branches off into related areas. The satire is so rich for such a short novel that it becomes difficult to provide a coherent exegesis. But I'll try.

There's nothing cryptic about the title's meaning. A man who's "experienced" life vicariously only through what he's seen on television, suddenly finds himself "being there", in the "real" world, which he has essentially no understanding of. He has trouble making the distinction, as we see when he uses a remote control to try to shut off a disagreeable young man.

Chance isn't congenitally stupid -- he's been "stupi-fied" by watching so much TV. This is not accidental. The Old Man who took him in as a child paid no attention to his education. Chance provided labor for nothing more than the cost of feeding and clothing him; his development as a human being was of no importance. (It's noteworthy that Louise, the Old Man's black maid, though claiming to have raised Chance, made no effort to teach him to read and write.) The poke at capitalism is obvious -- even heavy-handed -- but it could apply to any society in which the worth of the indvidual is not of primary importance. *

Chance's vapidity is a "tabula rasa" on which others' values and views are written. But the projection is largely due to the listener's unwillingness to hear what the speaker is actually saying. People hear what they want to hear, and "Being There" is also an indictment of our failure to "be there" with those with whom we engage in conversation.

Chance's repeated "I like to watch" has obvious voyeuristic connotations, which were confirmed in a Dick Cavett interview where Jerzy Kosinki revealed that he liked to go to public baths to watch people having sex. Most people found (and still find) this shocking, but I've never understood why "voyeurism" is considered a disorder (unless it replaces sex). Humans are highly visual animals, and we all "like to watch" all sorts of things, which is one of the reasons television has taken over so much of our lives.

The projection of our inner lives on the outer world of television and movies can block the development of an "inner dialog" that can help us make sense of our own lives and what is going on around us. (Fundamentalist religion also has this effect.) Chance is lost in the outer world, in part because he has no inner world in which to retreat and figure out things. His is the ultimate "candidness", in which everything is on the surface. "There is no there, there", as Gertrude Stein said about Oakland.

It is all-too tempting to paint Ronald Reagan as a real-life Chance, and I won't resist the temptation. It is difficult to understand why such a vacuous idiot was elected to the Presidency, but it was partly due to his very shallowness, which allowed even people who disagreed strongly with his policies to find him "likeable". How can one like a stupid person who has nothing of any value to contribute? It is no surprise that, at the end, the power brokers are thinking that Chance should run for the Presidency.

The film was made at Peter Sellers' encouragement, as he viewed the novel as a vehicle for his acting skills. It's a near-perfect performance (unlike, say, Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man", where we're constantly aware we're watching an actor pretend to be something he isn't). Although the novel describes Chance as handsome and athletic, the older and somewaht vacant-looking Sellers is a better choice for the film, as removes the possibility people think well of him simply because he's good-looking. The other performances are mostly good, with Maclaine, Dysart, and Douglas standing out. Douglas's Oscar-winning performance, in particular, is a fine example of acting without appearing to act.

The ending -- not in the novel -- spins the story in a direction Kosinski did not intend. Is Chance the fool of God? Is he so cut off from the material world that its laws no long apply to him, and he can walk on water -- perhaps because he doesn't understand it isn't possible (as suggested by the tag line on Rand's tomb, "Life is a state of mind")? Either way, the story's meaning is softened and blunted. Chance is neither hero nor divine.

Other than this misstep, Ashby's direction is spot-on, giving the material the weight it needs to be believable. A lighter tone would call too much attention to the satire. The Blu-ray transfer is beautiful, highlighting Caleb Deschanel's rich photography.

Thematically, "Being There" recalls "Rear Window" (voyeurism) and "Network" (media corruption of the "inner self").

The film is very good, and the novel great, arguably one of the best of the 20th century.

* "Individualism" and "individuality" are not the same thing.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is the story of Obama mania
I luved this movie. After watching this movie I understand Obama mania around the world. Particularly the fascination of Obama by the Europeans.

Peter Sellers portrayed the Obama character so well...It was uncanny.

All Obama fans need to rent and watch this flick.


1-0 out of 5 stars Cant review what you dont have.
I ordered this book a month ago and still do not have it. After contacting the sender, she sent me an email saying she was sorry and that her child had been sick. She promised I would have the book in a day or two. That was last week. I don't have the book and there are only two weeks left to the class I'm taking. Though the purchase was relatively inexpensive ($8.99 including shipping) I feel like I just threw money away on something I won't use. If indeed I ever see it. I can't say if the book is worth getting or not, but I definitely wont use the seller again. ... Read more

2. Cockpit (Kosinski, Jerzy)
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 272 Pages (1998-04-07)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802135684
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Meet Tarden, an ex-superspy who, thriving on psychological pressure, penetrates the lives of others, leading his momentary partners in a ruthless dance of complex intrigue. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for "Cockpit"
This book has had one of the greatest impacts on my life in terms of great literature. Kosinski is a profound, concise story teller. He's not for the faint of heart, but if dark storytelling is your thing, no one is better.

1-0 out of 5 stars Derangement in the Cockpit
Few books have made me as irritated as "Cockpit," as Kosinki episodically unravels one nightmare after another.There is just a minimal spine to hold the narrative togther (American spy becomes filthy rich through his manipulation of others), minimal dialogue, and no resolution of character or story line. And to think Kosinki also authored "Being There" and was (is) a university professor! Good thing I invested just a dollar at a used-book counter.

2-0 out of 5 stars interesting little stories, in the long going nowhere
Each little scene is often interesting but if you're waiting and hoping that the whole thing comes together and makes some kind of sense, you'll be waiting a long time.For Kosinski, there are better choices...

4-0 out of 5 stars Masterful Use of First Person Unsympathetic Narrator
I've used the opening of this darkly prophetic novel--told from the POV of a social terrorist interested only in exploring the depths of human evil like Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment--in countless workshops and seminars to illustrate that your protagonist's "sympathetic" nature doesn't mean we LIKE him. 'Sympathetic' in its Greek root suggests that we can "relate to," or "suffer with," a character and from the haunting opening lines that's exactly what causes us to turn the pages--a mixture of horror and our own voyeuristic tendencies.

1-0 out of 5 stars What was the point?
As I read the book I kept hoping that at some point there would be a moment of enlightenment.That there would be a place where things fell together and started to make sense.Where I'd feel like all these snippets of a guy continuously bragging about his life would have greater purpose that would make me forgive the author's pure drive to shock the reader.Unfortunately this never occurred and at the end I found myself convinced that my time would have been better spent doing or reading just about anything. ... Read more

3. The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 234 Pages (1995-08-09)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 080213422X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A harrowing story that follows the wanderings of a boy abandoned by his parents during World War II, this classic novel, originally published in 1965, is a dark masterpiece that examines the proximity of terror and savagery to innocence and love. It is the first, and the most famous, novel by one of the most important and original writers of this century.Amazon.com Review
Many writers have portrayed the cruelty people inflict uponeach other in the name of war or ideology or garden-variety hate, butfew books will surpass Kosinski's first novel, The PaintedBird, for the sheer creepiness in its savagery. The story followsan abandoned young boy who wanders alone through the frozen bogs andbroken towns of Eastern Europe during and after World War II, tryingto survive. His experiences and actions occur at and beyond the limitsof what might be called humanity, but Kosinski never averts his eyes,nor allows us to. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (113)

4-0 out of 5 stars Ultimately worth it but only VERY ultimately.
I read The Painted Bird because of a long ago made recommendation. The description of the plot is generally available and so I won't repeat it here. The blurbs and descriptions in the book made it seem as if its autobiographical or at the very least based on a true story, with comparisons to The Diary of Anne Frank. When I started the book and began to get a sense of its remorseless and graphic depravity, I made allowances because of the fact that "these things happened" When I discovered that this was all completely fictionalized, I was not inclined to continue, since it is very graphic and I'm a squeamish guy and those are not my literary tastes. As I continued reading though, the accelerating orgies of senseless violence actually desensitized me in the way that mirrored the boy's quest. You become hardened and shell shocked by the depravity and also grateful for the small reliefs, brief chapters that don't climax in incest or bestial violence. You feel assaulted and end up cheering on violence done to those who first perpetrated it and ready to side with anyone with most rudimentary social codes which in this book is the Red Army heading to Berlin. Anyone familiar with the conduct of the Red Army during that time appreciates the low standards you would have to have to look upon them as saviours, yet the events in this book are so harrowing and filled with nearly prehistoric codes of interaction that the reader searches for relief in any vestige of "modern" concepts of decency and civilization. In that it is a brutal subject, brutally handled it is hard to recommend that someone go through the experience; I can say however that when you are done you feel like you have gained an insight and just a tinge of the terrifying dread that is part of this perpetual human condition.

4-0 out of 5 stars `Was such a destitute, cruel world worth ruling?'
`The Painted Bird' was first published by Jerzy Kosiñski in 1965, and revised in 1976.It is a fictional account of the personal experiences of a boy aged six who could be Jewish or might be a Gypsy taking refuge in Eastern Europe during World War II.It is a fictional account filled with hate for Polish peasantry and packed with excruciating, horrifying detail of rape, murder, bestiality and torture.

'The Painted Bird' depicts a journey through a very brutal and brutalising hell.There are no safe places, really, for this boy.He may have escaped with his life but he can never escape his experiences.

There are good reasons to not like this book: it is not, as has been thought, an autobiographical account of Kosiñski's own experiences.Additionally it relies on the proximity of the Holocaust to intensify its own horror; it demonises Polish peasantry as both cruel and backward; and it wallows in violence.But for all of that, it has its own haunting power.

I've first read this novel at least 20 years ago and recently revisited it.I do not like the graphic, seemingly unending violence.The point is made and reiterated: man's inhumanity to man takes many forms and vulnerability is often relative rather than absolute.Did Kosiñski really regard the world as being beyond redemption?Is that the question he was posing in this novel? Is that why he committed suicide in 1991?Did he write this novel to give voice to his own despair as a consequence of the events of World War II?For me this novel raises far more questions than it answers.And some of those questions about the author and his intent colour the way I read this novel.I cannot `hate' it: it is far too well written for that.I cannot `love' it: it is far too ugly and there are far too many questions unanswered.Instead, I `like' it in an uneasy sort of way because it makes me wonder about the world.

I won't need to read it again.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

1-0 out of 5 stars SICK SICK SICK
I can only say that this man must have been very sick in his mind to write this and suicide did us all a favour.He has made the Poles out to be as sick as himself and its all lies.How dare this book be taken seriously?If it is fiction then his detailed descriptions are something in his mind which are really perverse and dangerous.The Poles suffered as much as anyone and for them to be portrayed in this way is insulting and I am ashamed to see the well known and up til now respected so called intellectuals' praise of this work. i wanted to burn the book but its from the library.A health warning should be put on the front. If those sort of things did go on I would assume they were rarities rather than the norm as he makes out to be.The more scary thing for me would be that I was the only one who detested this book but I am not alone.Arthur Millar and his ilk have gone down in my estimation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortably real
I'm surprised by any negative reviews of this WWII, quasi-Holocaust tale of a young Jewish boy wandering on his own during the war.

The story is indeed rather "creepy".It's not a "feel good" read.It's also well told and beautifully written.The sexual, brutal, and homicidal aspects were, I thought, handled rather delicately yet without losing the intended hard-punch impact.Certainly some tough topics, but nothing gratuitous here.

It's very thinly veiled that this is (tragically) an autobiographical novel.An important work in this genre', and again, very well written.Probably not for the extremely timid, but if you can handle frank truth, don't let the hand-wringers scare you away from reading this one.

1-0 out of 5 stars Fraud?
Among my main subjects of interest, which dominate my reading, are the horrible European history of the 20th century, and the literature by and about emigrants.
One of the best known, but controversial authors of the small group of writers who moved to the US or UK as adults and then were successful writers in English, is the Jewish Pole who adopted the name Jerzy Kosinski.

He published this novel, The Painted Bird, in 1965, and produced some of the most heated controversies in literary history. I am not sure if it is at all clear by now whether he actually wrote the book himself and whether he really wrote it in English. The book was received as a semi-autobiographical narration of the wanderings of an abandoned 6 to 10 years old boy in the wilderness, actual and social, somewhere in an unnamed East Europe during WW2. We meet incredible superstition and brutality, not just war related.

The boy is dark haired and has dark eyes and speaks upper class Polish. For the people in the flat country, he is like a painted bird: the metaphor relates to the sadistic act of catching birds, painting their feathers, and releasing them to the rejection and aggression by their flocks.

In his foreword to the 1976 edition, Kosinski denies autobiographical content and declares his tale as fiction. In the meantime it had been established that his own real life experience had been much different, that Polish farmers had actually saved him and his parents by hiding them and giving them a fake Catholic identity. With this background, I must say I can understand the accusations that the book is anti-Polish. During Communist times, the book was banned in Poland and Kosinski was attacked as traitor and American influence agent. I am not sure if that hits the truth, but there is something very fishy here.

Let's put it in a nutshell: I expected something somewhere between Imre Kertesz and Primo Levy, but what I get is more like Tarantino or Rodriguez without the tongue in cheek.
The novel gives us one scene of sensationalist brutality after the other. It is a picaresque hell ride, and the puzzling aspect is: the violence is not war related. It is practiced by the rural population on a peace time basis: sadism, rape, mutilation, lynching, blinding, whipping, you name it. I am disgusted.
Kosinski's 76 foreword refers to accusations of uncalled for violence, and he justifies it by saying that all war witnesses say that the reality was even worse. Maybe that is so, but the real problem is the violence level in the scenes which are not war related.

Another aspect that condemns the book is this: the narration is supposed to be that of a little boy of 6 and later. Kosinski failed completely to give the story a plausible childlike voice. On the other hand, the events have too much immediacy to be taken for the recollection of an adult who remembers his childhood. This is all very wrong.
I really wanted to like this book, but I can't.
... Read more

4. Pinball (Kosinski, Jerzy)
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 310 Pages (1996-09-17)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802134823
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings
The novel is flawed in many ways. The violent climax at the end was a little too predictable, and the conversations at times sounded more like lectures from some music professor desperately trying to be hip, or like an author trying to recreate the casual banter of people from subcultures he never experienced.

However the books true saving grace (apart from some really interesting information here and there) was the very idea of a famous rock musician who has no public persona. Anonymity as a means of generating "hype" - and hiding from the world and protecting one's "real" life. The concept is fascinating.

4-0 out of 5 stars Underrated and overrated all at once
Reading the reviews for Pinball thus far, there seems to be a determination either to dismiss the work entirely or attribute to it more weight than it deserves.
It helps to know that at the time of Pinball's publication, Kosinski's star in the literary landscape had either already been, or was about to be, pummeled by a scathing expose in The Village Voice that revealed Kosinski as a sociopathic liar and that his three most celebrated works were written by ghostwriters or were plagiarized from lesser known Polish novelists. This was a particularly scathing indictment since Kosinski had gained a great deal of notoriety for writing The Painted Bird which manyheralded as an autobiographical account of the author's childhood in Poland during Nazi occupation. Kosinski invited his own downfall because, while he never explicitly stated that his most celebrated book was autobiographical, he either implied it or, at least, never went out of his way to say that it wasn't.
Nevertheless, when the Village Voice article came out, the understandable backlash from critics, not to mention genuine Holocaust survivors, pretty much decimated an already faltering writing career by the early 80s. Which is where Pinball seems to depart.
When one reads a significant body of Kosinski's works, one can see that Kosinski's own (need?) (desire?) (habit?) to glamorize or comment on his own life was an all-consuming practice. Patrick Domostroy's identity is transparently Kosinski. (National Music Award for Octaves; National Book Award for Steps.)
Pinball could almost be the one true autobiographical statement that Kosinski ever made about the trajectory of his professional career. In a sense, its all little more than self-pity and naval gazing - the pop star Goddard being a cipher for Kosinski's celebrated life as literary darling that no one knew as opposed to Domostroy's faded star and mundane life that became Kosinski's life when his later works didn't sell that well and he was no longer that "bright star."
Of course, always in Kosinski's works there is the theme of "chance" - the "you never know what's going to happen next stuff" that was so celebrated as a theme in "Being There" and which also served as a comment on the demise of his career and reputation represented by the Pinball as the last telling image.

Its not nearly as shallow a work as many of Kosinski's detractors would have you believe (Obviously the world he describes stretches credibility because of the anonymity of Goddard is flat impossible in a media saturated world. But the intent is not to portray a realistic world anyway, so I reject most criticisms on that level.) But it isn't nearly as deep as his defenders want to be. As a fan of Kosinski's works, despite the controversy, the novel is a fascinating study. Unlike many authors, Kosinski puts himself (or his invention of himself) right at the center of his novel's world.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pulp Fiction...is actually much much better.
This book demontrates what many people claim to be true, that the polish socialite had the most famous of his books, the painted bird, ghost written for him, kinda of easy when you are married to the number one steel heiress in the u.s. Of course it was later proven for a fact, and the polish socialite admitted to it, that he never witnessed almost anything of what the painted bird was about...Classy.

But this is a review about this, "trashy" as another reviewer pointed out, book which i had the displeasure of reading, but fortunately got it off for fifty cents in a used book store. I wasn't so much irritated but Kosinski being completely off when it comes to the rock scene, but with his technique in writtingwhich is, what can i say, juvenille, no subtlety, no plot development (seems he's making up the plot as he goes along), the characters crudely "speak" the background action...jesus, what a mess...ok, he, mostly, does not write, but doesn't he read?

Makes bells read like dostoyevsky.

2-0 out of 5 stars Poor

A cartoonish and predictable novel that will especially disappoint fans of Kosinski's purer, more original efforts.

5-0 out of 5 stars PINBALLED!
Several reviewers, showing no reverence,appear not to have heard that Jerzy took his own life some years ago.PINBALL may have been Jerzy's best effort.He inserts layer after layer of the pinball metaphor, a ball bounced hither and fro, mostlyby chance.He compares the unexpected motion of a pinball to the music of his hero, Domostroy.Theseelements of chance plague all his characters.The unexpected, unforeseen, unpredictable falling of the pinball is a metaphor for the sudden cessation of life.

The shadow of death permeates this story.The character Goddard is panicked by the sudden death of a girl he picked up by chance.To him it was as if a phonograph had suddenly been unplugged. The music, ever a metaphor for life, just stopped.What meaning can there be in a life so casually turned off?This anticipation of death was much worse than death itself.Kosinski saw the grim reaper as the ultimate controller of all life.

The rise and fall of Domostroy's career in music was another layer of the pinball metaphor.The search for the composer's inspiration always led to female embedded sex.All love was unrequited.In fact, music itself was presented as the joining of male and female notes.The characters were all presented as puppets whose strings were being pulled by the puppeteer called Music.

Kosinski used the two characters, Domostroy and Goddard, to show the toll that celebrity had inflicted on his own life.The question is, can an artist separate himself from his works once he chooses to exhibit them? Goddard had hoped to avoid the fate of John Lennon by constructing a dream world where he remained anonymous.While Domostroy chose to live in a cell of his own making to avoid the consequences of his own failed music and his own pinballed life.
... Read more

5. Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography
by James Park Sloan
Hardcover: 505 Pages (1996-06-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0788153250
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
He was one of the world's great writers & intellectuals, acclaimed as a heroic survivor & witness of the Holocaust. He won high literary awards, made the bestseller lists, lectured in prestigious universities, & was feted in high society. Then, in an expose that sent shock waves throughout the intellectual community, he was denounced as a CIA tool, a supreme con man, & a literary fraud, igniting a firestorm of controversy that consumed his reputation & culminated in his headline-making suicide. This compelling biography cuts to the complex heart of the truth about the man & the myth that was Jerzy Kosinski. Photos.Amazon.com Review
Hailed as an important young author and thinker with thepublication of The PaintedBird, winner of the National Book Award, Jerzy Kosinskiended his life amid allegations of fraud and plagiarism.With accuracy andunderstanding, Sloan undertakes the unraveling of a complex and confusing life, one that experienced the horrors of theHolocaust, the oppression of totalitarianism, the fruits of celebrity,and the consequences of lies, offering an all-too-human view of a mandescribed as "part victim, part charlatan, and part genius." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Jerzy Kosinski (Lewinkopf): His Life and Legacy
This book surveys Kosinski's early life, his new life in the US, his travels, his celebrity status, his sexual libertinism, and his suicide. That latter is portrayed as a well-planned event.

Sloan comments: "Only Kosinski knew that the peasants he had encountered, while certainly no angels, had been nothing like the villains depicted in his novel." (p. 421). The incident about the altar-boy Kosinski being thrown into a pit of excrement, for accidentally dropping a missal, is admittedly fictional. (p. 36). For more on the specifics of Kosinski's mendacity, read the detailed English-language Peczkis review of Czarny ptasior (THE BLACK BIRD-MONSTROSITY).

The Soviet occupation followed the German occupation. Jerzy's father, Mieczyslaw (Moishe) Lewinkopf, joined the overcrowded ranks of rescued Jews who turned against the Polish nation by becoming actively Communist (p. 49, 53), thus making themselves complicit in the Soviet subjugation and oppression of Poland. (Sloan sugar-coats participation in Communism as a manifestation of anti-fascism and idealism (pp. 46-47). Oh, please! The criminality and terror of Communism had by then been well-known, if not long before--not to mention the fact that anyone supporting Communism was well aware of the fact that it was odious to the vast majority of Poles.) Moishe Lewinkopf also associated with Jerzy Urban, another Jewish Communist. (pp. 58-59). (Urban later became a pornographer, editor of the magazine NIE!, and a well-known vicious anti-Catholic slanderer of Pope John Paul II.)

When THE PAINTED BIRD came out, its German-language edition was well-received. (pp. 234-236). (Decades later, after the present book was written, Gross' NEIGHBORS also came out in a German-language edition that was enthusiastically received.) This clearly served a need: To relativize German conduct and dilute German guilt in the murder of 5-6 million Jews--by making lurid, mostly-bogus, relatively-trivial accusations against Poles.

The same anti-Polish and anti-peasant themes of THE PAINTED BIRD showed up in Lanzmann's SHOAH. Kosinski gave an evasive answer when asked about the objectivity of the latter. (p. 419).

Kosinski's I-am-a-constant-victim-of-Poles fibs continued. He changed his story about his NY apartment invaded by a bunch of Polish goons, first saying that he used a gun to scare away the assailants, and then saying that he never had a gun (p. 245).

Sloan portrays Kosinski as a man confused about his heritage, and a loose cannon prone to offend both Poles and Jews. (Yes, but the former offensiveness has enjoyed far greater publicity. THE PAINTED BIRD is still widely read, and is used in American classrooms. The latter is long forgotten.) In terms of the specifics of the latter, Kosinski favored a universal theme for the remembrance of Auschwitz in preference to a Judeocentric one (p. 419). He suggested that Jewish snobbery provoked Polish anti-Semitism (p. 409). Finally: "At one point in Jerusalem when a reporter asked what the Poles had done to save the Jews during the war, Kosinski snapped: `What did the Jews do to save the Poles?'" (p. 420). Touché!

5-0 out of 5 stars brilliant book
This is a gripping and very well written book. The fact that Kosinski was disliked by some Poles is irrelevant. A remarkable biography.

2-0 out of 5 stars two stars for trying
Most academics can't write--and this proves it. Charles Bukowski was right. These guys are usually out there "teaching" others how to write, not unlike Kosinski himself. Basically the man, "Kosinski," was illiterate--and yet, for a while there, he was teaching at a coupleof first rate universities. You figure it out. The whole thing is a scam, bogus--with the literary,East Coast set. In the beginning he was published because he hung out with the "elite," and he was a great B.S. artist.In the final analysis, this was Kosinski's greatest talent: lies and ... The man couldn't even write a decent letter...this explains why, years ago, when I attempted to read a couple of his novels I simply could not get through them...and I could not pinpoint exactly what it was that these books were lacking. Of course, now we know: too many chefs had had a hand in Jerzy's stew.

As far as this Sloan guy goes: he tried, but this isn't the definitive book on Kosinski (a worthwhile subject for a biography by someone who can write, even if his books are unreadable).

3-0 out of 5 stars Losts of information, most of it okay
Sloan, while not the most gripping writer, provides a digestible account of Kosinski's life and works. Much of the mythos accorded to Kosinski is addressed, if not fully explained. The largest benefit this book can bring to the reader is a refutation of the oftentimes confused early history of the author. Kosinski allowed and encouraged the public's belief that The Painted Bird was mostly autobiographical in a literal sense. This belief gained popularity to the extent that it has appeared as fact in "about the author" blurbs and websites devoted to Kosinski. Sloan disabuses the reader of this notion and places a much closer version of the reality in the reader's vision. However, he makes many mistakes. As noted by another review, "Sloan Should Have Proof-Read The Manuscripts," he makes several factual errors. He dispells some myths but clings to others despite facts to the contrary. Sloan interviewed Kiki (Kosinski's widow), as well as many others. Kiki told him that the story of Kosinski's arrival, in Poland, at his publisher's buisness in a limo with American flags was not true. In reality, Kosinski had come downstairs from a meeting. No car was involved, yet Sloan kept the myth. Such disregard for his sources and perpetration of myth makes me wonder what else Sloan did not accurately explain.
For the reader casually interested in Kosinski, I encourage reading Sloan's work as it does explore Kosinski's life quite in depth. For the scholar of Kosinski, it's a useful addition to the library, but not the first one to be turned to for understanding.

2-0 out of 5 stars Sloan should have proof-read the manuscripts
I grew up in Poland in the 70s and 80s and was unaware of Kosinski of that time.I was, however, aware of how the population felt towards the "collaborators", for example students who went on exchange programs to the Soviet Union.
I personally was punished for refusing the obligatory field trips to the USSR throughout high school.

While some people may see something good in collaborating with the enemy or doing anything to get ahead in life, I see 1 major flaw in this book: misspelling of Polish names, newspaper titles, names of towns. This may not bother Americans, but is annoying to a Polish speaker. This book should have been proof-read by a native Pole.

I paid ... for the hardcover, and I consider it was a decent investment. ... Read more

6. Steps
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 148 Pages (1997-08-07)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802135269
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A portrayal of men and women both aroused and desensitized by an environment that disdains the individual and seeks control over the imagination. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Review by Dr. Joseph Suglia
Jerzy Kosinski did not write his books alone. His authorship has long since been discredited as fraudulent; all of the writings to which he gave his signature have been dismissed as the trickery of a con artist. Indeed, this very signature preempts any of "Kosinski's books" from being taken seriously. What Kosinski once fobbed off as his own creation is now surrounded by an embarrassed silence. One smirks bemusedly at these works as the artifacts of an interesting life.

What is one to make of the fact, then, that Steps, a novel that bears Kosinski's name and yet was not composed in his own language, is one of the most intensely powerful novels of the twentieth century?

The subject of Steps undergoes a continual metamorphosis throughout its pages. At the beginning of each of the forty-six episodes into which the book is divided, an "older" self is negated (not cancelled out entirely, but preserved in the memory of the work) and a "new" one forms and takes its place. Each self belongs to a "present" instant that is disconnected from the series of instants that precede it, each of which is itself displaced from history. If a unified authorial consciousness embraces each transformation, holding together the death and reformation of the subject in each instance, this can only be discerned in the articulation of the individual episodes. And if a link binds the episodes together (the "steps" of the title), it is the guiding thread of submission and domination, the only two forms of relationship of which the subject is capable. The author, Jerzy Kosinski was surely mistaken (or was otherwise disingenuous and willfully misleading) when he claimed in an interview that the book progresses from "the formed mind of the protagonist (in the beginning of the novel) when he sees himself as a unique manipulator of others, to the stage (at the novel's end) when he realizes that he is nothing but a composite of various steps of culture." To speak of a "progression" in any strict sense would be inaccurate. It is the case that the narrator manipulates a young girl who is dazzled by the narrator's credit cards at the very beginning, but there are no traces of a gradual progression from the mind of a sovereign subject who deploys a dominant culture for his own purposes to one who recognizes his subjection to that culture. On many occasions throughout the work long before its denouement, he is a plaything given over to powers that infinitely surpass his own, exposed to the whims of the uncontrollable, without a barrier to shield him from the forces that invade him.

The seductiveness of Steps resides in its power to lead the reader astray, away from the world to which s/he has grown accustomed and into a fictional space from which there is no easy escape. However oppressive its horror becomes, it is difficult to tear one's eyes from this book. Literary analysis may engage with the book's meaning, but will necessarily fail to adequate the spell that it casts over the reader. Each "step" is macabre and unsettling in its violence. In one episode, the subject is a farm hand at the mercy of peasants who spit on him for their amusement [II, 2]. He seeks revenge by inserting discarded fishhooks into morsels of bread, which he feeds to the children of those who torture him. The only way to invert the existing hierarchy, he seems to feel, is to become an oppressor oneself: oppression generates oppression in the way that fire generates fire. A group of peasants, in another "step," gapes at a performance in which a young girl is violated by an animal [I, 4]. It is uncertain, the narrator tells us dryly, whether her screams indicate that she is actually suffering or whether she is merely playing to the audience. The extent to which the girl is a victim or a manipulator remains undetermined. In another episode, a nurse passively endures the amorous advances of the narrator, now a photographer, who longs for sexual contact with her in order to distinguish himself as much as possible from the seemingly non-human inmates of a senior citizen's home whom he has been photographing [III, 1]. When the narrator enters uninvited into the nurse's apartment, he finds her coupling with a simian creature who, ambiguously, is later described as "human." The narrator, in another episode, is an office worker whose lover is unaware that she is his lover [V, 5]. The narrator plots with a friend to take possession of her. The woman submits entirely to the friend's will and agrees to allow herself to be possessed by a stranger while blindfolded. Now the narrator can dispose of her sightless body as he wishes: a relationship that is emblematic of all of the relationships portrayed in Steps. Despite her complete availability, his desire remains frustrated. Nothing about her is concealed, but her nudity is itself a form of concealment. At another moment, narrator is on a jury [V 3]. The defendant explains his deed in the most ordinary terms without ever attempting to justify his behavior. A fictive identification is afforded between the members of the jury and the "executioner": they visualize themselves in the act of killing, but cannot project themselves into the mind of the victim who is in the act of being killed. The agony of the victim is lost to vision altogether. The narrator, in another episode, becomes the powerless spectator of his girlfriend's rape [III, 3]. Afterward, their relationship changes. He can now only represent her to himself as one who has been violated and who is worthy of violation: her rape comes to define her. He visualizes her as a kind of crustacean or mollusk emerging from her shell. The conclusion of the episode follows an implacable logic: under false pretenses, the narrator offers his girlfriend to the rowdy guests at a party, who proceed to have their way with her. Her pearl necklace, a gift from the narrator, scatters to the floor like so many iridescent seeds (a somberly beautiful passage that gives the lie to Kosinski's own self-interpretive remark that Steps eschews figurative language). The architect of an orchestrated violation, the narrator departs without witnessing the inescapable result of his designs. Such a summary can only imperfectly approximate the grotesque horror of this book.

One may wonder whether there is a point to such an uninterrupted current of phantasmagoric images. The reader may be invited to take delight in the extremity of its descriptions: such would nurture one's suspicion that Steps is a purely nihilistic work. What we find in each instance is a relationship between one who terrorizes and oppresses or who sympathizes with terror and oppression (this is often, but not always, the narrator) and one who surrenders, voluntarily or otherwise, to the will of the oppressor. By describing such scenes of exploitation and persecution in a neutral manner, the book seems to offer no moral transcendence. Such an interpretation, however, would ignore the book's moral center.

The book's ethical dimension first becomes apparent in an italicized transitional episode in which the protagonist tells his lover of an architect who designed plans for a concentration camp, the main purpose of which, the narrator explains, was "hygiene" [IV, 1]. Genocide was for those responsible indistinguishable from the extermination of vermin: "Rats have to be removed. We exterminate them, but this has nothing to do with our attitudes toward cats, dogs, or any other animal. Rats aren't murdered-we get rid of them; or, to use a better word, they are eliminated; this act of elimination is empty of all meaning." This passage in particular casts light on the "theme" of dehumanization that runs pervasively throughout the book. In Steps, the other person is reduced to the status of a thing. To make of the other human being a thing: such is sadism. Only by representing those to be murdered as vermin (as things to be exterminated) is mass murder possible. It is no accident, from this perspective, that the narrator imagines himself felling trees when he obeys an order to slit his victim's throat toward the end of the book: it is the only way that he can suppress the nausea that wells up within him [VIII, 3]. Each human being is irreplaceable, and the death of a person is, therefore, an irrecoverable loss. By forgetting this, by turning the other human being into a mere object, one is able to dutifully "obey orders" to kill without the intrusion of moral consciousness. Steps aims at disgusting the reader by showing him/her the obscene consequences of objectification. From this perspective, Steps is a profoundly moral book.

The center of Steps may serve as a counter-balance to the parade of scenes of horror and degradation that constitute it. However, this center does not govern the totality of its operations. A tonality of evil informs these poisonous pages; in terms of its sheer cruelty, the work could only be compared to the writings of Lautréamont and Sade. Although one can point to its moral character from the passages cited above, the book could also be determined as a willfully perverse affirmation of simulation, falsehood, and metamorphosis that suspends the dimension of the ethical altogether. The subject ceaselessly yearns to exteriorize himself, to become part of an exterior space in which he would become entirely other-than-himself. It is a space in which he would be unencumbered by all forms of ethical responsibility: "If I could become one of them, if I could only part with my language, my manner, my belongings" [VII, 1].

Dr. Joseph Suglia

5-0 out of 5 stars The Id You Just Can't Shake
This book is a masterpiece in the weighted sense of the word. Notice the two reviews on the main page which were negative:
"just a bit too much for me"
"Some imaginations are almost too much, even for me"

You two, my friends, are not the sort who should be reading great literature, and I don't know how you stumbled upon it. If this book is too much, then the world is too much, and reading real books is not the domain for the shy and weary. Kosinski's understanding of the world reveals a side many people, especially those whose idea of "what the world is like" is as cushioned as it is for most of us in America, wish did not exist. The book is really about power. It is present literally everywhere, it cannot be ignored, and in each power equation there is someone on both sides. But I am wrong to say that it cannot be ignored, and a great many modern lives are focused on doing just that. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean we should not understand it and see it in glorious action.

These things happen everyday in the world. They happened to happen to this narrator. And this narrator happened to write his experience down into a solipsistic fragmentary masterpiece which portrays his battle with being a single human, a solipsistic human, in a world of other solipsists.

What I haven't mentioned so far is that this 149 page book is the most exciting and fun read I've had in a long, long time, and someone craving a taste of what the world is like should grab it right now. It is pure fun. You won't be able to put it down. And its crowning prose achievement is the outrageously pregnant concision, like Kafka's work, but in a way that seems even less possible to replicate. I wish I knew how he did it.

4-0 out of 5 stars STEPS

My agent, Ned Hamson, knowing I was writing an unconventional novel of my experience in South Africa as a young American executive (GREEN ISLAND IN A BLACK SEA) during apartheid, suggested I read STEPS.

Kosinski and I were born in the same year at opposite ends of the bloody Second World War.He never had time for innocence while I was an American boy held safely in her bosom in Middle America.All that was shattered for me when I went to South Africa as a young executive to form a new chemical company in 1968, the year before Kosinski won the National Book Award for STEPS.

I not only read this novel and his other works of fiction, but also James Park Sloan's biography, JERZY KOSINSKI.

STEPS and other Kosinski fiction demonstrate a mind that has been shattered by people he admires and people he finds out to be both brutal and brutish.THE PAINTED BIRD is an unexpurgated version of reality as a bookend to Alan Paton's TOO LATE THE PHALAROPE.Both authors deal with the inhumanity of man to man, but Kosinski chooses to walk the tightrope of despair and psychosexual fantasy.

Kosinski and I are both trained social scientists and published authors in that discipline.He went to one of the most prestigious universities in the country (Columbia) and had difficulty with his faculty advisers and never acquired his Ph.D.I had similar problems only I found my way from land grant institutions (Iowa, and University of South Florida) to safe haven in the university system of the future, writing my dissertation and defense for Walden University, a fully accredited university but not yet prestigious in the same sense as the Ivy League.

STEPS is a triumph of mind over matter and soul over eternity, a book that will stay with you the way Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG, OHIO does which was written for an earlier generation.Kosinski saw life naked, undisguised, and as Joseph Campbell might add, a time that never rose above its sexual organs or its lust for power and pleasure.

STEPS is concise, anecdotal and experimental the way James Joyce's ULYSSES was.The anecdotes are connected by style, mood, and tone that bite the psyche as if it had teeth.You know the work is art because the fragments hold together like an illuminating collage.

STEPS shows an intensely grim world characterized by brutality, exploitation, and calloused indifference.The impact is like a nightmare where violence breeds only more violence, and the protagonist is lost in the maze of emotion with no way out.

Many of the incidents in STEPS depict sexual exploitation.It is the predator-prey dance where the narrator exploits a woman, but he himself becomes the victim.In one instance, the narrator, an archeological student stranded without money on an island, collapses from hunger.Two fat old women feed him and then assault him sexually.

Among the scenes of perversion, many include accounts of sexual pleasure being derived from inflicting or witnessing pain.Sociological studies of Theodore Adorno (Authoritarian Personality) and Erich Fromm (The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness) come to mind to confirm Kosinski's thesis.

STEPS captures the whirling dervish of postmodern society with no leavening with virtue.Most of the episodes present actions of lust, greed, brutality, and corruption without mitigating circumstances, a little like watching the nightly news on television.

STEPS could be viewed as a series of 'dirty' anecdotes.The reality it portrays is the vicious and perverted side of life debased from human nature.

STEPS suggest narcissistic disassociation of a single person, or perhaps a series of people.That is the subtle strength of its fragmentation and a narrator who is never identified, leaving open the possibility that different narrators are functioning in the various episodes.In any case, regardless of the reader's reaction, the concrete style and raw intensity of the actions are not likely to be quickly dismissed from the mind of the reader.

To give you a sense of the fickle nature of publishing, 21-pages of STEPS was sent to its original publisher and several others six years after it had won the National Book Award.All turned it down.In 1981, the entire text of STEPS was sent to several literary agents and was turned down again by everyone.Kosinski committed suicide in 1991 at the age of 57, hounded by detractors, none of whom recognized his genius.If you are a writer, take note and persist.

1-0 out of 5 stars a dull recitation
This unstructured novel filled with graphic violence and sex, for all its salacious material, does little to either titillate or instruct the reader with any moral or aesthetic lesson.Quite the opposite, Steps is wholly amoral.This would be fine, if the writing had some scintillating quality; if the characters were richly drawn; if the flow of the narrative was swift, effective, tense.But this novel has none of these things.It seems difficult to believe, based on Steps, the Kosinski was once the flavor of the month, and a National Book Award winner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Admit it:you're filthy, too
Riveting, gripping, amazing.If art is, in part, the dance between artist and audience, then Steps is art in its highest form.I found myself dancing & reacting in ways I wish I hadn't; found myself physically aroused by portions of the text that I found intellectually / psychologically repugnant.That's a neat trick, Kosinski.

In spare prose, the author takes his breathless reader (think of how your oxygen intake changed while watching 'Panic Room') on a "depraved" journey into the mind / experiences of his protagonist.The scenes that are depicted would be described by a good buddy of mind as "filthy" -- and that they are.Bestiality, rape, exploitation, and beyond.What I found most intriguing about this text, from a historical / sociological / anthropological perspective is that it was written decades ago.Far from the busy streets of NYC where the tranny hos walk amongst us, far from the prevalent teenage-flesh-peddling of 2005.The fact that humans are humans are humans are animals, in all of our glorious base desires and yes, just plain filth, was the most satisfying revelation of all.

It is an excellent piece of art, and I can't believe I let it sit untouched on my bookshelf for six years after picking it up from a used bookstore in New Haven.This is one book I won't be selling used on Amazon.com; it's staying in my collection for at least four decades.WOW. ... Read more

7. Blind Date (Kosinski, Jerzy)
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 224 Pages (1998-02-17)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802135544
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Blind Date is a spectacular and erotically charged psychological novel that shows Jerzy Kosinski, author of Being There and The Painted Bird, at the height of his power. George Levanter is an idea man, a small investor, an international playboy, and a ruthless deal-maker whose life is delivered in a series of scorching encounters, each more incredible than the last. From Moscow to Paris, from a Manhattan skyscraper to a California mass murder, Blind Date is a dizzying vision of life among the beautiful people and the thrill-seekers.
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Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Is
A superbly entertaining, uniquely original, hugely enjoyable, horrifically real, surrealy introspective, and wholely original novel about the worst of society, but portrayed so beautifully, it makes the novel enjoyable, and exciting.You can read the work and a single sitting, in fact, you barely want to put it down, George Levantar is Kosinski's Humbert Humbert, Raskolnikov, an anti-protagonist of his times (to call him a hero would be giving him to much credit, since his heroics are almost non existent).This episodic novel gives you a portrait of existence in the grattos and penthouses and the slums and impoverished, a portrait of the world that only a genius like Kosinski could show.

If I were to go into the discrediting of the facts of whether or not he wrote his own books, it would be simple to say that the New York Times article proved that there was a unity of voice, and most people quoted by the Vanity Fair article said they were misquoted.Feel free to read the works of Kosinski knowing that you're reading the works of a man that had his own words, and his own thoughts--some very dark thoughts, but his own--and who was a great writer of literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars ONE THAT WILL STICK WITH YOU.
Kosinski has always been one of my favorite authors since I started reading him in the mid 1970s.This work, like most of his books (A Painted Bird comes to mind), are the type that will stick with you long after you complete the last chapter.This particular book, Blind Date is a series of events from one man's life. It takes us around the world and explores events that, while ugly at times, never-the-less need to be examined now and again.This life, as represented by the main character, is not one that the ordinary person will ever witness, but it is written in a fashion that is almost hypnotic.Our main character, like all of us, is made up of both good and evil.Kosinski merely enhances the good and bad acts and gives us quite a griping collection of small stories. Some of the subject matter, such as rape, incest, murder, etc. are rather distasteful, to say the least, but the author is able to pull it off.

I have to agree with the suggestion of another reviewer here when he suggested you THINK while reading this book. I say this, if for no other reason, than you are reading some pretty good writing.This is a well done work.Now I doubt if this one will fit the taste of everyone (my wife hated it), but it is a work that you should at least give a chance.As pointed out by yet another reviewer, part of this tale is fiction, part is semi-autobiographical.This is quite fascinating.

All in all, I do recommend this one.I have read it several times over the years (just finished another reading) and it has aged well and is certainly worth the time and effort.I am glad it is still in print.It is one of those books that sort of define an era in our history, both physical and literary, and deserves to be around for a bit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dangerous beautiful, descraceful and Darling.
Read Blind Date by Jerzy N. Kosinski
The only the real life of Kosinski is as strange as his fiction.
And his fiction is strange yet utterly plausible in the mind of the reader.

I liked it, the main character is capable of quite morally good things as well as dark dangerous things.Some is very true the two most unlikely stories in the book actually.Kosinski writes about his main character missing the plane to LA and all his friends were killed in a mass murder, Kosinski was supposed to go to Roman Polanski's house but lost his luggage and was delayed a day just causing him to miss arriving the night of the Charles Mansion Helter Skelter murders.The second story is about his main character marring a rich heiress for love only to see her die.This actual happened to the Kosinski.His mixture of pure fiction with the Autobiographical is mesmerizing.Leventur his main character is a Russian émigré who has many international adventures.He is a womanizer, a killer, a hero victim, avernger and villian.The plot bounces around the world from the opressed world of the Soviet Union to the extra
grandure and freedom of america.I also loved Being There.

3-0 out of 5 stars Kosinski attacks America...again.
"Blind Date," by Jerzy Kosinski, is coca-cola for the mind. You sip a little at a time and ponder the after-taste.All in all, the book serves its purpose, which is to involve the reader with quick flashes of whit and brutal irony. But my personal opinion is that the chapters repeat themselves in their psydo-philosophical/psychological "victim"/"avenger" theme. Thus, "Blind Date" quickly grows predictable, even a litte lame, and fails as a collective-whole.This is a book that is quickly read and quickly forgotten, but it's fun, if you don't take it too seriously, which you shouldn't.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful-Ugly
Sex, terrorism, incest, mass murder, betrayal, rape, prostitution.Somehow, Kosinski is able to show us the worst aspects of humanity and get us to completely accept them, even embrace them.The story is episodic. Through those episodes, Kosinski shows us something very like real life. It's more exciting than many people's lives, but there's no grand plan, nooverreaching narrative arc.To paraphrase the Simpsons, it's just a bunchof stuff that happened, but it certainly was a very interesting read. ... Read more

8. Cockpit
by Jerzy N. Kosinski
Paperback: Pages (1978)
-- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553026135
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9. Passion Play (Kosinski, Jerzy)
by Jerzy Kosniski
Paperback: 288 Pages (1998-04-07)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$3.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802135676
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In a masterpiece of love and loss by one of the world's greatest writers, Fabian travels in his VanHome from one end of the country to the other, searching, judging, and testing--himself most of all. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book, about a lot more than Polo
This book rocked. It was highly sexy, visceral, corporeal, and struggling, as well as classy, heartfelt, and with taste. I don't know anything about polo, but the world portrayed in this book was exclusive and enviable. Not that many people can afford horses and the company of some of the richest people, and while we can certainly feel sympathy for the main character, Fabian, we also can take a step back and realize that while he ages, loses many loves, and cannot form lasting relationships with almost anybody, he has had all the tragedy and drama that anyone could ask for, having experienced a life full of passion and meaning, whether that meaning was contrived from motives of pride or not.

Okay, perhaps the point is that his life was pitiable. If his every significant action was intended to make his life all the more dramatic and sweeping in scope and audacity, then he really was going out on a limb this whole time, all the more reason for him to mourn his own aging; he can't keep up with his own lifestyle any more.

His sex with young women, some underage, might evoke in some readers a repulsion. I am a straight male in my 20s who, while in a monogamous relationship and a relatively law-abiding citizen, can appreciate the fact that sex with underage girls (or boys) is biologically sound. There's the argument that it's wrong because it's taking advantage, etc. But I think there are some who condemn these relationships out of jealousy. 20 something men and women could be jealous of a relationship between a 50 or 60 something man and a teenage girl. The 20 somethings are bypassed entirely, their ripe youth bypassed for the unripe love that will be absorbed by the long past due. But Fabian's justification would seem to be that he teaches his girls how to love, how to be free in their bodies, how to see the world around them as a source of pleasure, not as a maze of meaningless social chitchat.

The bold world of polo accounted for in the first third of the book is fascinating for someone like me who can rarely see a horse up close, let alone a game like polo. The brutality of the death of his friend Eugene, the bitter hatred that Alexandra arouses, the way the husband of a woman he was eyeing was assassinated by tarantula placement, the event making him suspect if he tells. The sad twisted behavior of the poor chubby girl whose Japanese foster parents left her, her begging for Fabian's company, and then her suicide. The dark moments this book contains . . . And these moments all revolve around horses, these huge, majestic animals whose power can be scary. As Fabian says, they're powerful, but they're not as smart as cats, or as loyal as dogs. They are the ultimate force to be reigned in.If you're a horse person and these observations seem to you to be far off the mark, well too bad.Did you ever think you may be only one person with an opinion?Playing polo doesn't make one a judge over imaginary polo practices.Sure he can play polo on the tarmac.

And again, the sex, the sex, the sex. I didn't know sex could be written about in this way. Sex clubs with their exhibition and people watching, transsexuals and all types of gender bending thought, his relationship with a very light skinned "black" girl who passes for white, her racial history a secret she initially intended to keep, and finally his affair with Vanessa, the niece of the rich man who had been his great friend, the man he accidentally killed in a furious one-on-one polo match, spurred on by the absolutely soulless machinations of Alexandra.

The ending is great: he wondered if Vanessa would look out the window of the plane and see him riding his horse, Fabian would look to them like a man riding against an enemy only he could see. His life ends in old age and lost love, his youth and romance used in futility to keep these inevitabilities at bay. It is tragic, yet it seems that one could only live one's life in that way. He has burned out and not faded away. Great read and a great character.

4-0 out of 5 stars Much Better Than The Reviews Suggest
That is, if you can forget about the polo mistakes Kosinski or his ghost writers made. After all, polo is an abstruse sport, filled with arcane rules few understand. The rest of us can enjoy the novel for what it is, a fairly difficult novel about rootlessness and exile in 20th Century America. The hero, Fabian, takes his name from the socialist society of turn of the century England, and uses a trailer to transport himself and his animal across the nation. It's his "little home on wheels," as he calls it. Fabian is a suitable symbol for our deracinated society, in which nobody really has a home because of the topsy-turvy state of the planet.

As for the (numerous) sex scenes, Kosinski does a great job at making us care for the emotions behind the sex acts, not just the bodies, but the hearts and minds of his players. The book is called "Passion Play" not just because of the polo scenes, but because in this book JK hoped to expose the open nerves of his hero with the precision of a master surgeon, each vein and ambition caught and held deftly by a scalpel of precise imagery and language. Who would have thought that he didn't know how to speak a word of English until age eight? Play on, "PASSION PLAY."

1-0 out of 5 stars Polo & Kosinski--A Bad Combo.
Painted Bird is on my all time best book list, so after learning that Kosinski had also written about polo--a sport I play & love, I rushed to read it.However, the main character and the baroque & over-the-top violence of the game and sex with a panoply of individuals who might be found in Joel Peter Witkin's photographs gets tiring, and Fabian always remains abstruse at best.If Kosinski desired to shock the polo world, he acheived it--see the other reviews by polo players below--and I do have to give him kudos for that, the image of the average upper-class WASP professional, or better yet macho South American, who bought the book based on polo content, reading the sex scenes does make me laugh.But in the end I'd recommend staying away from this book both from the perspective of a polo lover and Kosinski fan.There is a great novel to be written around polo, but this ain't it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Polo anyone?Hardly
As another commenter indicated, this book is written by someone who only wished he was a polo player.It's frighteningly inaccurate and I can't believe that one polo player in the world would agree with the presentations (or should I say misrepresentations) provided within the book.But to focus on the pathetic longings of a man who cannot even understand the rudimentary principles and practices of an elegant and beautiful sport that he wishes to focus his novel on is not even enough...no the content of the book is entirely jumbled with ridiculous sexual escapades merely placed in convenient intervals to titillate domesticated bookworms who may find men and women and transvestites and transsexuals sodomizing each other interesting.Fortunately I didn't buy this book and with the cold weather upon us I now have the kindling I need to start the Yule log--so thanks Jerzy!

1-0 out of 5 stars Pashion Play? - I dont thnk so
You ever read one of those books and get about a third of the way in and you say to yourself "what the..."?
Well this is one of those books.
In essence its about a rather sad individual who drives across the country in a horse box with his polo ponies.
Now, anyone who plays polo and reads this book will read some of the descriptions with utter astonishment. The idea that you can stop your horsebox in a middle of a city car parking lot and practise on the tarmac is to anyone who knows about horses and or polo impossible. Immediately the writers credibility goes out the window.
This book is badly researched, dull in its content and baffling in its plot.
The second half may be much better than the first - I wouldnt know - I never got that far. ... Read more

10. Passing By: Selected Essays, 1962-1991 (Kosinski, Jerzy)
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 256 Pages (1995-08-09)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802134238
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A collection of essays by the late author of The Painted Bird features pieces about polo and skiing, levitation, the streets of New York, present-day Poland, the Cannes film festival, celebrities, and more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Plainly written, thoughtful
Kosinksi's essay on the making of the film "Reds" reveals a side of Warren Beatty unfamiliar to the general public. It and the other essays in this book are plainly written but thoughtful and built on a foundation of sensitive observation.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Kosinski Mystique Lives On - Here's the Painted Man!
A Polish emigre who survived numerous horrors as a Jewish child during World War II, Jerzy Kosinski escaped the Holocaust, as well as communism, becoming a celebrated American writer of often bleak, haunting, and nightmarish works. The sardonic author of The Pained Bird, Steps, Pinball, and Being There consciously created an aura of mystery with his "autofictional" novels and flamboyant lifestyle. Kosinski's 1991 suicide, following a period of declining healthy and increasing literary criticism, shocked many of his firneds - and added to enigmatic image as a cult figure.
Passing By:Selected Essays, 1962-1991, Kosinski's post-humous book of previously published and unpublished writings, claims to answer many questions about his controversial life. Partially compiled by himself and finished by his wife and two friends, Passing By contains 51 literary essays, magazine articles, New York Times op-ed pieces, and political speeches organized in ten chapters rangigng from "Life and Art" and "Self vs. Collective" to "People, Places, and Me" and "The Sporty Self."
One of many surprising, and fascinating, chapters is titled "God &" where Kosinski reflects on his persecution as a child and his "spiritual inheritance" as a "circumcised Catholic." "I'm a missionary to only one particular life: the life within me; and I proselytize only one faith: my faith in the sanctity of life."
Given Kosinski's intimate writings about painful childhood memories and erotic adult fantasies, however, Passing By maintains a strange silence on his private life. The only direct reference to the author's suicide, for example, is on the book jacket. No defense, explanation, or context for Kosinski's decision can be found. (Kosinski does praise the great French biologist Jacques Monod, a longtime friend, for his philosophical acceptance of his terminal condition in "Death in Cannes." "Mercy killing interests me," said Monod. "Mercy living does not.")
Clearly designed to hint and allude, rather than decipher or explain, Kosinski's essays mirror his fictional style. A man who loved secrets and disguises, Kosinski retains his control of readers' perceptions with illuminating symbols and brilliant metaphors.
For better and worse, Passing By resembles Kosinski's montage-like novels of fragmented perceptions by refusing to offer a grand summation or any final judgements. Instead, readers are left with contradictory statements and tentative conclusions.
The Kosinski mystique remains. ... Read more

11. The Devil Tree
by Jerzy Kosinski
Paperback: 224 Pages (2003-12)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.00
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Asin: 0802139655
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A searing novel from a writer of international stature, TheDevil Tree is a tale that combines the existential emptiness ofCamus's The Stranger with the universe of international playboys,violence, and murder of Patricia Highsmith's The TalentedMr. Ripley. Jonathan Whalen's life has been determined from the startby the immense fortune of his father, a steel tycoon. Whalen'schildlike delight in power and status mask a greater need, a desire tofeel life intensely, through drugs, violence, sex, and attempts atmeaningful connection with other people -- whether lovers or thememory of his dead parents. But the physical is all that feels real tohim, and as he embarks on a journey to Africa with his godparents,Whalen's embrace of amoral thrill accelerates toward ultimatefulfillment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars the anti-Horatio Alger story
Well I see that this book now has a better cover than it did on the older edition I had from a different publisher (Bantam). The cover on my edition was so awful I had to cover it with masking tape and scribble over it the picture of a satanic tree. The publishers had stuck some inane photo of a woman in boots at the prow of a boat--good grief! I guess this was from the days when a dearth of originality and a pandering to the lowest common denominator invariably led a publisher flummoxed about how to sell anything actually resembling a real book to say, "I know, lets put a provocatively clad woman on the cover!"

What am I talking about..."from the days?" We're still in those days. Anyway, its nice to see someone at Grove at least stretching their creative muscle enough to use Photoshop to solarize the picture of a tree for the cover of this edition. Its not terribly original, but its not terribly embarrassing either.

But enough about the cover. Let's talk about the back cover copy. The back cover copy on my edition was only less embarrassing than the cover photo because it required you to take the trouble to read it--and reading, as anyone can judge from the quality of the types of books published nowadays, is something very few people take the time to do, if, that is, they can actually do it. The copy on my edition of "The Devil Tree" was all, like, far out, man, all trippy, and tuned-in and dropped out and stuff.

Look, this is a serious novel by an incisive social critic of the late 20th century American scene. It deals specifically with the corruption and decadence of a culture--American culture in this case--when the irrepressible creativity and drive that inspired a society's great innovators peters out and leaves little trace in their descendants except for the tremendous amount of accumulated wealth and power that has been inherited by those far less directed toward any goal.

Whalen, Kosinski's protagonist in "The Devil Tree," is one such privileged fellow. A man who has been given all that anyone can ever want, he has no idea what to do with it. He has everything, in fact, but an identity of his own. There is a woman, Karen, a beautiful model, who is as vacuous at her core as he is. These two vacuums orbit about each other, mutually afraid to get sucked into the void of each other.

Kosinski really is a brilliant writer--his prose sharp and gemlike, bits of glittering collage, a postmodern mosaic of literary style. This book--and Kosinski himself--deserves much better regard than it seems to me they've enjoyed since his rather ignominious last years and passing. I consider "Steps" to be his masterwork, but "The Devil Tree" is close behind it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Compelling readable mosaic novel
Like Kosinski's second novel, "Steps", this is more of a mosaic of short, linked vignettes.In this book, however, there is a central character, who is more of a symbol of current American culture as Kosinski saw it.

I read the original edition of "The Devil Tree" when it was first published in 1973, and after his first three books I was somewhat disappointed.I reread it in the early 1980s when Kosinski published a "revised and expanded" version, and I found it much more satisfying.

Jonathan Whalen, the main character, is the scion of a fabulously wealthy family.As the story begins, he has just come into his inheritance.From there, the story weaves back and forth between his past and his present, describing his alienation, his failed relationships, his inability to fit in.In the 1970s this was the archetype of American youth, particularly those who came from upper-class families, and Kosinski's observations may seem dated today.On another level, however, it's about anyone who doesn't fit in, like the anti-hero of Albert Camus' "The Stranger."

This will not appeal to readers looking for appealing, sympathetic characters, or a straightforward narrative.Kosinski's world view is pretty bleak, although it's not as intensely apocalyptic as his next two books, "Cockpit", and "Blind Date," which are truly horrific.But Kosinski's spare, lean prose and his perceptive observations on many details of American life more than compensate for the self-absorption and anomie of his characters.It's certainly far more interesting than his limp "Pinball" and the unreadable "Hermit of 69th St."

(It's worth noting that Kosinski committed suicide in 1991.The revelation that his novels had been written with the aid of uncredited editors --- Kosinski's native language was Polish, and he never completely mastered written English --- may have been a contributing factor, as was the discovery that the story of "The Painted Bird", long presented by Kosinski as autobiographical fact, was in reality pure fiction.Then again, his unrelentingly dismal world view may have been his ultimate undoing.)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Read
The format is unusual having no chapters but rather a series of short vignetts in first and third person voices with no set sequence as to their inclusion into the framework of the story.At first I found this style to be somewhat off putting but long before the end of the work I warmed to this method of story telling.Altogether Kosinski shows us his ability to engage the reader in what turns out to be a delightful read.

2-0 out of 5 stars a fragmented look at a rich, spoiled, and wasted young man..
'The Devil Tree' is a disappointing, messy read about a young man in the early 1970s trying to piece together his life after the deaths of his mega-wealthy industrialist parents.He wanders through the drug stage, the meaningless sex stage, and forever has bouts of "soul searching".But unfortunately this reader found him to be so unappealing that I gradually became disinterested in him altogether.The rather choppy literary style of Kosinski, an unfortunate departure from his terrific 'Being There', only made matters worse.

Bottom line: a rather burdensome and unenjoyable read.

4-0 out of 5 stars YOU PROBABLY HAVE TO BE A FAN
This is pretty classic Kosinski, not his best, but still all Kosinski.I first read this one in 1978.I thought at the time that this was a bit of literary experimentation, and still feel as such.I enjoyed it, but then I am a fan of this particular author.I am not sure if younger folks, i.e. those who did not live the 60s and 70s could get the proper feel of this work, but perhaps I a wrong here.Anyway, if for no other reason, it should be read.It is a good bit of literature and we could all probably learn something from it. ... Read more

12. Words in Search of Victims: The Achievement of Jerzy Kosinski
by Paul R. Lilly
 Hardcover: 260 Pages (1988-12)
list price: US$18.50 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873383664
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13. Passion Play
 Hardcover: Pages (1979)

Isbn: 2213008515
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14. Being There
by Jerzy Kosinski
Hardcover: Pages (1970)

Asin: B002H0ZGLY
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Being There is one of the most popular and significant works from a writer of international stature. It is the story of Chauncey Gardiner - Chance, an enigmatic but distinguished man who emerges from nowhere to become an heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon, a presidential policy adviser, and a media icon. Truly "a man without qualities," Chance's straightforward responses to popular concerns are heralded as visionary. But though everyone is quoting him, no one is sure what he's really saying. And filling in the blanks in his background proves impossible. Being There is a brilliantly satiric look at the unreality of American media culture that is, if anything, more trenchant now than ever. ... Read more

15. Jerzy Kosinski: An Annotated Bibliography (Bibliographies and Indexes in American Literature)
by Gloria L. Cronin, Blaine H. Hall
Hardcover: 128 Pages (1991-08-30)
list price: US$72.95 -- used & new: US$20.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313274428
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Editorial Review

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The subject of divided critical opinion because of the experimental nature of his writings and their radical subject matter, Kosinski, author of such novels as The Painted Bird and Being There, nevertheless ranks among the most celebrated of contemporary American authors. The range of critical response is in evidence in this carefully annotated bibliography. Primary sources include editions of his novels, recordings, nonfiction books, miscellaneous writings, and interviews; secondary sources include reference materials, books and monographs, biographical studies, dissertations, and criticism and reviews specific to particular works. Access is facilitated by author and subject indexes. ... Read more

16. Jerzy Kosinski (Twayne's United States Authors Series)
by Norman Lavers
 Hardcover: 176 Pages (1982-04)
list price: US$15.50
Isbn: 0805773525
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17. Jerzy Kosinski: Eine Einfuhrung in sein Werk (Abhandlungen zur Kunst-, Musik- und Literaturwissenschaft) (German Edition)
by Sepp L Tiefenthaler
 Unknown Binding: 258 Pages (1980)

Isbn: 3416015568
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18. Jerzy Kosinski: The Literature of Violation (Milford Series, Popular Writers of Today)
by Welch D. Everman
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1991-05)
list price: US$23.00
Isbn: 0893702765
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19. Conversations with Jerzy Kosinski (Literary Conversations Series)
Paperback: 242 Pages (1993-05-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$18.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0878056262
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20. John Barth, Jerzy Kosinski, and Thomas Pynchon: A Reference Guide (Reference Publication in Literature)
by Thomas P. Walsh, Cameron Northouse
 Hardcover: 145 Pages (1978-05)
list price: US$19.00
Isbn: 0816179107
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