Being There

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Grove/Atlantic, Inc., Dec 1, 2007 - Fiction - 160 pages
A quirky, brilliant novel starring Chauncey Gardiner, an enigmatic man who rises from nowhere to become a media phenomenon—“a fabulous creature of our age” (Newsweek).
One of the most beloved novels by the New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of The Painted Bird and Pinball, Being There is the story of a mysterious man who finds himself at the center of Wall Street and Washington power—including his role as a policy adviser to the president—despite the fact that no one is quite sure where he comes from, or what he is actually talking about. Nevertheless, Chauncey “Chance” Gardiner is celebrated by the media, and hailed as a visionary, in this satirical masterpiece that became an award-winning film starring Peter Sellers.
As wise and timely as ever, Being There is “a tantalizing knuckleball of a book delivered with perfectly timed satirical hops and metaphysical flutters” (Time).

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Marse - LibraryThing

This is the first Kosinski I've read. It is very short, less than 120 pages, reads easily. A satire of sorts about a somewhat simple-minded man who becomes an international celebrity because of his ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - scottcholstad - LibraryThing

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn't say. I actually prefer Kosinki's The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author's ... Read full review

Selected pages


Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven

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Page 144 - Chilled air streamed in through an open window. Chance pushed the heavy glass door open and stepped out into the garden. Taut branches laden with fresh shoots, slender stems with tiny sprouting buds shot upward. The garden lay calm, still sunk in repose. Wisps of clouds floated by and left the moon polished. Now and then, boughs rustled and gently shook off their drops of water. A breeze fell upon the foliage and nestled under the cover of its moist leaves. Not a thought lifted itself from Chance's...
Page 7 - No plant is able to think about itself or able to know itself; there is no mirror in which the plant can recognize its face; no plant can do anything intentionally: it cannot help growing, and its growth has no meaning, since a plant cannot reason or dream.

About the author (2007)

Born on June 14, 1933, of Mieczyslaw and Elzbieta Kosinski in Lodz, Poland, Jerzy Kosinski came to the United States in 1957. He was naturalized in 1965. Kosinski obtained MA degrees in social sciences and history from the University of Lodz, and as a Ford Foundation Fellow completed his postgraduate studies in sociology at both the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw and Columbia University in New York.

Kosinski wrote The Future Is Ours, Comrade (1960) and No Third Path (1962), both collections of essays he published under the pen name of Joseph Novak. He is the author of the novels The Painted Bird (1965), Steps (1968), Being There (1971), The Devil Tree (first edition 1973, revised in 1981), Cockpit (1975), Blind Date (1977), Passion Play (1979), Pinball (1982), and The Hermit of 69th Street (1988).

As a Guggenheim Fellow, Kosinski studied at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University; subsequently he taught American prose at Princeton and Yale universities. He then served the maximum two terms as president of the American Center of PEN, the international association of writers and editors. He was also a Fellow of Timothy Dwight College at Yale University. Kosinski founded and served as president of the Jewish Presence Foundation, based in New York. He won the National Book Award for Steps, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in literature, best Screenplay of the Year Award for Being There from both the Writers Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), the B'rith Shalom Humanitarian Freedom Award, the Polonia Media Award, the American Civil Liberties Union First Amendment Award and International House Harry Edmonds Life Achievement Award.

Kosinski was a recipient of honorary PhDs in Hebrew letters from Spertus College of Judaica and in humane letters from both Albion College, Michigan (1988) and Potsdam College of New York State University (1989). An adept of photographic art, with one-man exhibitions to his credit in Warsaw's State Crooked Circle Gallery (1957), André Zarre Gallery in New York (1988), and in the Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago (1992), Mr. Kosinski was also an avid polo player and skier. In his film-acting debut in Warren Beatty's Reds, he portrayed Grigori Zinoviev, the Russian revolutionary leader. Mr. Kosinski died in New York on May 3, 1991.

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