Adam Andrusier recounts his lifelong obsession with autograph hunting in Deux Hitler et une Marilyn | Canberra weather


lifestyle, books, two hitlers and a marilyn, adam andrusier, hatchet, autographs, jk rowling

When I paid a farewell visit to Menachem Begin, the absolutely relentless but inimitably witty Prime Minister of Israel, I asked him to dedicate one of his books. He did, sending me back The Revolt with the tongue-in-cheek comment, “don’t leave this at Damascus airport.” This book, inscribed “in a warm friendship”, is on the bookcase behind me. On the same subject, my son wrote to JK Rowling before she became mega-famous. Generously and graciously, she responded to him, commenting on her ideas for the next Harry Potter and including as a bonus a signed Harry postcard, “because I am told readers like these.” This autograph duo would now bring in, I’m told, a ridiculous amount of money in the auction market. I only mention these family anecdotes to demonstrate familiarity with the subject matter of Adam Andrusier’s memoir on “the escape of an autograph hunter from the suburbs”. Paying dearly for autographs is no more eccentric than collecting stamps, spotting trains, or tracking down a 1930’s penny. This hobby would only become odd if calligraphy were studied in the same insane way as the was once phrenology, as a guide to the personality and the intellect. In any case, Andrusier’s hobby was significantly more mainstream than his family’s stubborn commitments to Israeli dance, salacious magazines, video tricks, and postcards from destroyed synagogues. Andrusier takes the reader briskly from one autograph hunt to the next, from Ronnie Barker to Monica Lewinsky. His approach is partly jovial and cheerful, partly offended and sarcastic. Andrusier presents all the different dimensions of the autograph collection: the advocacy letters; rigged encounters; reading albums; haunting auctions; find pen pals; and exchange. He grumbles regularly, over fakes (made by machines or secretaries), listless subjects (Richard Gere), cranky women (Winnie Mandela) and misspelled fakes (Ms Monroe). A weak spot arises when Andrusier suggests that his autograph of Salman Rushdie would bring in more money if the perpetrator was killed. The other concerns a deeply misguided attempt to offer blind Ray Charles to sign with a cross. Even a Hitler autograph is considered “appalling and self-destructive, but also quite electrifying.” On one level, this memoir is a tale of growth and estrangement, the acquisition of independence as well as indirect glimpses of a parallel universe of fame. Sadly, Andrusier’s idiosyncratic treasure hunt produces more madman’s gold than gems.

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