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What is the power of art in the face of death? In The Art Lover Carole Maso has created an elegant and moving narrative about a woman experiencing (and reliving) the most painful transitions of her life. Caroline, the novel's protagonist, returns to New York after the death of her father ostensibly to wrap things up and take care of necessary "business" where her memory an What is the power of art in the face of death? In The Art Lover Carole Maso has created an elegant and moving narrative about a woman experiencing (and reliving) the most painful transitions of her life. Caroline, the novel's protagonist, returns to New York after the death of her father ostensibly to wrap things up and take care of necessary "business" where her memory and imagination conspire to lay before her all her griefs and joys in a rebellious progression. In different voices, employing a collage-like fragmentation, Maso gently unfolds The Art Lover in much the same way the fragile and prehistoric fiddlehead fern unfolds throughout the novel, bringing with subtle grace the ever-entangled feelings of grief and love into full and tender view. Various illustrations throughout.


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What is the power of art in the face of death? In The Art Lover Carole Maso has created an elegant and moving narrative about a woman experiencing (and reliving) the most painful transitions of her life. Caroline, the novel's protagonist, returns to New York after the death of her father ostensibly to wrap things up and take care of necessary "business" where her memory an What is the power of art in the face of death? In The Art Lover Carole Maso has created an elegant and moving narrative about a woman experiencing (and reliving) the most painful transitions of her life. Caroline, the novel's protagonist, returns to New York after the death of her father ostensibly to wrap things up and take care of necessary "business" where her memory and imagination conspire to lay before her all her griefs and joys in a rebellious progression. In different voices, employing a collage-like fragmentation, Maso gently unfolds The Art Lover in much the same way the fragile and prehistoric fiddlehead fern unfolds throughout the novel, bringing with subtle grace the ever-entangled feelings of grief and love into full and tender view. Various illustrations throughout.

30 review for The Art Lover

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    This book is true. True to the fragmentation and ragged edges of life. True to all the ways that we open ourselves up to grief when we love another person. True to the ways that we can use art as a shield, a barrier to hold loss and pain at arm's length -- as well as to the ways that art can help us to truly acknowledge tears and heartache among laughter and joy, restoring life to its complex, multidimensional whole. I know that this is a book I will revisit time and again, when I need to remind This book is true. True to the fragmentation and ragged edges of life. True to all the ways that we open ourselves up to grief when we love another person. True to the ways that we can use art as a shield, a barrier to hold loss and pain at arm's length -- as well as to the ways that art can help us to truly acknowledge tears and heartache among laughter and joy, restoring life to its complex, multidimensional whole. I know that this is a book I will revisit time and again, when I need to remind myself of the lessons Maso explores through words, images, memories, a collage of stories within stories, with her own story eventually breaking through. As she finds her voice, we find our voices with her. Maso published The Art Lover in 1990, and it is set from Spring 1985-Spring 1986. Through Maso's novel, I travelled back in time to that period, as she reconstructs the quiet, the all too quiet agony of the early years of the AIDS epidemic. She juxtaposes the lonely deaths of young men on AIDS wings of NYC hospitals with the very public deaths of the Challenger astronauts. And rather than keeping death and loss at an abstract distance, within the pages of a newspaper or on a television screen, Maso constructs frames within frames to tell more personal tales of loss. The primary narrator of The Art Lover is Caroline, a writer who published one successful novel, but who is struggling to write her second novel. Caroline is mourning the recent death of her much loved and very complex father, Max. Her reflections on her recent loss lead her to grapple with other profound sources of grief and loss in her life, both in the past and in the future. One way in which Caroline deals with her grief is by exploring loss in her second novel, through the whirlwind of emotions that surround a man's decision to leave his wife and two daughters for another woman. Maso skillfully moves us back and forth, from Caroline's present, to her memories of the past, to fragments from chapters of her novel-in-progress. Interspersed among these passages are newspaper clippings, star charts suggesting a search for destiny, reproductions of artwork depicting scenes of death and redemption, dialogues in which Jesus voices doubt and fear, not to himself in Gethsemane but to characters in the novel. The juxtaposition of these fragments of words and images leads to a subtle, insightful, honest exploration of loss, uncertainty, fate, love, and memory in which art can serve as a means to make pain abstract and distant, or can lead to deeper understanding and, perhaps, transcendence. This is a beautiful book if you have the time to sit with it, and read, and reflect, and go where Maso leads. And just as she finds her voice in a breathtakingly personal section late in the novel, so you may find the courage to face your own grief and pain, finding love amidst the tears.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)

    “As she stands up now I can see the intricate jigsaw shapes their bodies make to fit together. They will gnaw off an arm if necessary to fit, bleed at a joint, tilt the head, or nod a little too deeply to maintain the vaguely heart-shaped vacuum that must always exist somehow between them.” The first page expressing the language’s tone, the theme rising in graphic metaphoric prose. Reading a book, this book, according to how it is told can bring about the experience of an experience. What is it w “As she stands up now I can see the intricate jigsaw shapes their bodies make to fit together. They will gnaw off an arm if necessary to fit, bleed at a joint, tilt the head, or nod a little too deeply to maintain the vaguely heart-shaped vacuum that must always exist somehow between them.” The first page expressing the language’s tone, the theme rising in graphic metaphoric prose. Reading a book, this book, according to how it is told can bring about the experience of an experience. What is it we want when we convey something of excruciating pain in our life to others? Understanding? Comprehension.? Empathy? Compassion? A usable idea for a denial? Consolation-which can be copied from the 24 volume set of cliches, What To Say When You Have No Idea What To Say? This plaited, shard infested, fracked and fractured account relayed in novel form will if read in the way presented, even though made of words; words that compose short at times lyrical sentences, provides a wordless experience which is at the heart of experience, the experience of experience. Maso accomplishes this with seeming ease. Accessibility is one of her fruitful skills. I’m not sure what this proves but maybe I’ll find out by writing this paragraph. Part of my Book Addiction Personality Disorder is that by the time I reach the last thirty to fifty pages of a book I am reading, no matter how good the book, I’m already thinking ahead to the next. The first beginnings of Book Salivation and listing towards living within the next writers voice, intelligence, didn’t happen here. I think the reason why is that this was not an intellectual experience. It was, to be certain a visceral experience but more so I think it is what happens to us when we receive shattering news, loss, death, before any word has arisen to be spoken. That primeval netherland. This is an important book by an important writer. I am so grateful to Nathan "N.R.” Gaddis for having brought this to the attention of our GR world where such surprises wait to deepen our lives.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    To be an artist is to be willing to have your heart broken every day. In her beautiful ode to loss, Maso perfectly captures the essence of grief and mourning - both public and individual - through a series of interlocking narratives of rich characters and inventive story telling. The result is a stunning, impactful book of dealing with the parts of life none of us wants to ever face but will, inevitably. There is a portion of the book that rattled my soul: one of the narratives is the story of a f To be an artist is to be willing to have your heart broken every day. In her beautiful ode to loss, Maso perfectly captures the essence of grief and mourning - both public and individual - through a series of interlocking narratives of rich characters and inventive story telling. The result is a stunning, impactful book of dealing with the parts of life none of us wants to ever face but will, inevitably. There is a portion of the book that rattled my soul: one of the narratives is the story of a female character (an author) dealing with the slow death of a close male friend from AIDS. I don't want to spoil the way this story is told, but it is genius, it is original, it is heartbreaking. But anything I could write about this beautiful book has already been much better said by friend Kris. If you aren't sure whether to give this book a go, please read her review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Some recent confusion and bafflement lately about how to take McIntosh's themystery.doc ; many taking it as Danielewski imitation. That's because we don't read Maso today. The precursor to McIntosh's book is right here in The Art Lover. (and DICTEE among others but we'll get to that). As the brokenness of inexplicable grief and loss compel us to rebuild a world of reasons, the stunning and bold brokenness of Carole Maso's The Art Lover fiercely awakens in the reader a desire for wholeness and me Some recent confusion and bafflement lately about how to take McIntosh's themystery.doc ; many taking it as Danielewski imitation. That's because we don't read Maso today. The precursor to McIntosh's book is right here in The Art Lover. (and DICTEE among others but we'll get to that). As the brokenness of inexplicable grief and loss compel us to rebuild a world of reasons, the stunning and bold brokenness of Carole Maso's The Art Lover fiercely awakens in the reader a desire for wholeness and meaningful integrity. We feel ourselves reconnecting, rebuilding, reinventing the story and, in the process, our shaky notion of reality itself. It is a frightening and healing experience to be the reader of this uncompromisingly honest and passionate book. --John Graham. And as I've been reflecting on this reading of Maso it occurs to me (finally) that it's not the graphical interface of the page that we have in mind but it's what was once known as écriture féminine. And taking my cue from Cixous who credits the likes of Joyce with écriture féminine I might slide in a rec for what we really ought to mean by Joycean (after Joyce ; post=joyc) :: "Joyce reestablished the connections in his own work [...] his vision of the possibility of human equilibrium within a hostile environment" (Paradoxical Resolutions: American Fiction since James Joyce, p3 -- one of the more incisive works I've seen on AfterJoyce writing). It's the possibility of living in and of experiencing the world that we find in fiction, not the actuality. It's when fiction holds out for us a possibility of being, a possible way to be, that we fall in love with it. We do not look for a mirror reflecting actuality but a hand held out offering what can yet only become.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Neighbors

    I love this book. It's my friend. I think it doesn't have that many friends, though. Poor book. I think it's worth trying for, even if you are a little skittish about experimental literature. Plus, it appears to be lonely and in need of friendly reviewers who actually say something about it. It has art in it. And it's a document of our first fumblings in trying to comprehend AIDS. I love this book. It's my friend. I think it doesn't have that many friends, though. Poor book. I think it's worth trying for, even if you are a little skittish about experimental literature. Plus, it appears to be lonely and in need of friendly reviewers who actually say something about it. It has art in it. And it's a document of our first fumblings in trying to comprehend AIDS.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robert Wechsler

    My first Carole Maso, whom I'd been meaning to read for years. I admired the novel more than I enjoyed it, although there were many beautiful moments (and some excellent use of repetition). It’s a novel that wends its way toward a focus on grief. It’s a novel that wends it way period, moving not via plot or character, but by intuition, it feels, what the author felt was appropriate at any point. This makes it extremely personal, so personal that it overflows into the author’s real life toward th My first Carole Maso, whom I'd been meaning to read for years. I admired the novel more than I enjoyed it, although there were many beautiful moments (and some excellent use of repetition). It’s a novel that wends its way toward a focus on grief. It’s a novel that wends it way period, moving not via plot or character, but by intuition, it feels, what the author felt was appropriate at any point. This makes it extremely personal, so personal that it overflows into the author’s real life toward the end. Although I found myself skimming through the last thirty pages, I look forward to reading more of Maso.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    3.5/5 Let me amend what I have always thought. I love not things that are certain, but simply things in themselves. There is a funeral being held for one of my high school friends today. It was one of those friendships wherein neither found much purchase in the other's surrounding friend and/or family group, which contributed to my decision not to attend. Doing so would have required simultaneous grief and intense refueling of barely there social relationships, to the point that any paying of 3.5/5 Let me amend what I have always thought. I love not things that are certain, but simply things in themselves. There is a funeral being held for one of my high school friends today. It was one of those friendships wherein neither found much purchase in the other's surrounding friend and/or family group, which contributed to my decision not to attend. Doing so would have required simultaneous grief and intense refueling of barely there social relationships, to the point that any paying of respects could not be conducted without an underlying feeling of having intruded. Instead, I find myself doing what I usually do when physical attendance would prove a poor decision: reading, reflecting, writing. Doing such does not give any evidence to those conducting my friend's funeral that I mourn her passing, but to my instinctively atheistic and Catholic trained mind, should the religious pathways indeed exist, my inner behavior will be sufficient to let my friend know that I miss her and wish her peace. I so often carefully plan the timing of starting particular works that I'm afraid I'm no longer capable of spontaneous pulling off the shelves without checking compasses both external and otherwise. December 8th, 2016 is the day of both my friend's death and my starting this work, but I am not completely certain it was the day that I received a Facebook notification across my feed of a post my friend had not made, but had been tagged in such a way as to alert me to the fact that she would never make a post again. Millennials change too quickly, Millennials multitask too much, Millennials are glued to their phones and their laptops and their gadgetry, and so we are destined to find out far faster than our predecessors when our kindred are cut down in their prime. I do not know how the earlier generations who entertained themselves with lynching spectating and genocide expect us to mourn. On the one hand, the joy of once again affirming themselves as the pinnacle of humanity's potential must certainly have its perks. On other, it's them we'll be burying. I will admit that this work would not have resonated so well without this and another, vaster fateful circumstance. All those who died of AIDS on US soil did not die by accident, and we are barreling towards a US-bound era that promises to as be concerned, it not more so, with the excision of those who do not fit. The LA times equivocates over concentration camps, CNN questions the humanity of Jewish people, Nazis are given homey and nostalgic pictures in magazine articles under the label of 'alt-right', and healthcare will once again made even more a matter of your money or your life. This is what concerns me. The religion and the art and the ideals of rural yet well-funded upbringing in all the realms of culture rested light on the palate, but when one's first introduction to Maso is Defiance, one can't be blamed for wanting a tad more grit. I don't know what's coming. One could make some educational guesses based on the functioning of the US government from the enslaved beginning up until the genocidal present day, checks and balances and all, but it's still a day or so till the final votes are cost and slavery-favoring system decides whether to put a known nothing rapist crook in the White House. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened, but for my quarter of a century lifespan, it's the most explicit I've seen thus far. If it comes, when it comes, I only care about one number when it comes to other people: how many they will allow to be murdered before they start saying they will not stand by. We are wounded, symbol-making creatures, Caroline.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    There are moments in this book where Maso's writing simply transcends, giving exquisite voice to grief and love and pain and death; and there are moments that feel heavy-handed, pulling me away from the sublime of the narrative. The "more winter" section was beautiful, so much so I almost wished the whole novel was set in the memoir world. There are moments in this book where Maso's writing simply transcends, giving exquisite voice to grief and love and pain and death; and there are moments that feel heavy-handed, pulling me away from the sublime of the narrative. The "more winter" section was beautiful, so much so I almost wished the whole novel was set in the memoir world.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    "We are nothing but a little bit of solar heat stored up and organized, a reminder of the sun, a little phosphorus burning in the meninges of the world." -Paul Cezanne, via Impressionism by Paul Courthion, via The Art Lover by Carole Maso I didn't love this book at first. It initially felt ever-so-slightly frivolous: an exaltation of the lives of pretty, economically secure, bohemian people dithering at artists' colonies. I know writers are always enjoined to "write what you know," but this book "We are nothing but a little bit of solar heat stored up and organized, a reminder of the sun, a little phosphorus burning in the meninges of the world." -Paul Cezanne, via Impressionism by Paul Courthion, via The Art Lover by Carole Maso I didn't love this book at first. It initially felt ever-so-slightly frivolous: an exaltation of the lives of pretty, economically secure, bohemian people dithering at artists' colonies. I know writers are always enjoined to "write what you know," but this book initially seemed to take that dictum overly literally. Also, after the exquisitely painterly, luminously rendered beach scene that opens the book, I felt disappointed when the prose style subsequently fell into a sort of talky ordinariness. But I found myself being moved despite myself, especially once I hit the last fifty pages. The chapter "More Winter" deserves five stars, as does the section "The Night of Self-Pity and Loathing," which perfectly captures the texture of a meandering, nightlong, alcohol-fueled conversation between two people who have known each other for decades and withhold nothing from each other. Based on Maso's reputation as an "experimentalist" and based on some of the reviews I'd read on Goodreads prior to starting, I expected this book -- a story within a story within a story -- to be a confusing, difficult read. I was surprised, then, to find the text thoroughly clear and easy to follow, the boundaries between its different layers of meta-reality almost too clearly delineated, if such a thing is possible. I had looked forward to more blurred boundaries, more ambiguities of meaning, but in the end the text left little to no question as to how it wished each of its components, motifs, scenes to be interpreted. Overall, though, I found The Art Lover to be a deeply moving, intelligently crafted novel that explores the question "What is a life well lived?" by considering the lives and deaths of two men loved by the female protagonist -- her father and her best friend -- both intellectuals, sensualists, connoisseurs of high culture, men whose greatest love is to talk, to critique, to judge, at times to scoff and scorn and disdain. The book asks: is this life of talking, critiquing, judging, etc., enough? Is it a full life, a worthwhile one? The book ends on an affirming note, but it's its willingness to first look into the trembling void and consider the possibility of "no" that makes it honest, makes it brave.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    The other week I picked up Carole Maso’s The Art Lover, something to counter-balance Céline. Céline’s writing (well at least early Céline) aligns more with my daily thoughts—my cynical, dark, sarcastic and humorous tendencies… how I often project myself, how I’ve learned to cope with my sensitive nature for as long as I can remember. Immersed in Céline, it’s easy to give even further into those tendencies of mine. But then there are those occasional writers, like Carole Maso, who remind me again The other week I picked up Carole Maso’s The Art Lover, something to counter-balance Céline. Céline’s writing (well at least early Céline) aligns more with my daily thoughts—my cynical, dark, sarcastic and humorous tendencies… how I often project myself, how I’ve learned to cope with my sensitive nature for as long as I can remember. Immersed in Céline, it’s easy to give even further into those tendencies of mine. But then there are those occasional writers, like Carole Maso, who remind me again how it is to feel and just how much I am capable of feeling. This is my second book by her, and both times, her works have haunted me poetically and stylistically. We tend to think of Sebald as the modern king of writing with images, but here was Maso the same year that Sebald’s Vertigo was published, incorporating images, as well as blurring the boundaries between fiction and memoir, albeit in her own distinct way as she uses art to deal with grief. Maso’s writing is poetic, fragmentary, and experimental. But she wont be as widely read, and I can think of several reasons for this, just look at some of the things that more popular experimental novels have in common—length, grand ideas, an overpowering stench of y chromosomes, you know, things of that nature. Maso’s books are simpler in many ways and wonderfully feminine. And for this reason, I find it a pity she wont be as widely read, because I think we need both in our lives and on our shelves. “The heart is not a resilient muscle like the poets tell us. I have not the stamina. Not to be father, or lover, or artist. You know best of all, Caroline-- to be an artist is to be willing to have your heart broken every day. I am only here to admire the darings of others.” 4.5*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is an accomplished book, with moments of intense beauty and sadness about losing someone you love, often tied to artwork interspersed in the pages. (But don't expect quality reproductions.) One of the most prominent is Giotto's "Noli Me Tangere," as well as a Matisse drawing of a woman asleep. The author also brings in this excerpt from a book about Giotto: "One of Giotto's most poignant figures is that of the Magdalen in Noli Me Tangere. Christ, in his first appearance after resurrection, This is an accomplished book, with moments of intense beauty and sadness about losing someone you love, often tied to artwork interspersed in the pages. (But don't expect quality reproductions.) One of the most prominent is Giotto's "Noli Me Tangere," as well as a Matisse drawing of a woman asleep. The author also brings in this excerpt from a book about Giotto: "One of Giotto's most poignant figures is that of the Magdalen in Noli Me Tangere. Christ, in his first appearance after resurrection, meets the Magdalen, who reaches out to touch Him. Kneeling and stretching her arms toward Christ, her entire figure conveys a sense of almost unbearable yearning and emotion. The very idea that she cannot, must not, touch Him is used by Giotto to suggest the idea of not only the transcendent nature of Christ but the very human tragedy of two people at a fateful and final moment, separated by an enormous gulf..." And that sums up the entire book. It shifts back and forth among "plot lines," but is always tied to the themes of loss and deep love, and is not hard to follow. Near the end, the way the author herself breaks into the book is remarkable. Still, for all its emotional depth, there were two things that I found irritating. First, the book sometimes lapses into the "poetic" ("She breathes deeply and sighs. She is in love with light. Her eye caresses each blade of grass, each lavender shadow."), especially at the beginning. In the course of the book it either dissipates or becomes more bearable, but at the beginning it's a turn-off. Second, while I love NYC as much as anyone, there are moments of unadulterated adulation for NYC that made me feel like someone was wringing out my internal organs. ("I am back in your city of fire-eaters, jugglers, magicians, fortune-tellers, three-card montes. I don't know how you've stood it all these summers since the country - unicyclists, parrots - twenty or so years now, in this madness that descends on Greenwich Village each year..." etc etc). If you can stick out the first half of the book, you'll probably be rewarded for your time. Footnote: After I finished reading, I flipped back to the beginning to see - "For Andrew, I am sorry to hear about your father. I want you to have this. Carole, Provincetown 1991" Wow! A signed copy. I love second-hand. (But I hope I haven't embarrassed Andrew.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julene

    It was difficult to continue reading this book, I did not follow who was who in the family and there was no plot. I had heard it was a novel written in the form of a poem so I sought it out. What I did not know is the second half of the book is about a man, who seems to have been actual friend of the author, who died from AIDS. As soon as AIDS began to be referred to, when the major character Caroline returns to NYC, my interest started to engage. This is an 'experimental' novel in many ways. Bo It was difficult to continue reading this book, I did not follow who was who in the family and there was no plot. I had heard it was a novel written in the form of a poem so I sought it out. What I did not know is the second half of the book is about a man, who seems to have been actual friend of the author, who died from AIDS. As soon as AIDS began to be referred to, when the major character Caroline returns to NYC, my interest started to engage. This is an 'experimental' novel in many ways. Both in form and in its inclusion of art, newspaper clippings, and other visual artifacts. It is based in facts such as the explosion of the Challenger, and the artists of our times, this is definitely appealing to me. The book is dedicated to Gary Falk, 1954 to 1986, an actual artist who died from AIDS, in the sections where she visits him in the hospital she uses her name, Carole, as opposed to the character in the book name, Caroline. She also shifts within the book from third person to first person at times. So, I looked up Gary Falk and indeed he is a real person who was an artist who died of AIDS. His mother wrote the memoir, "Retrospective: Portrait of a Forever Young Artist." (on further research this appears to be in his archives and not available for purchase.) As someone who has worked in this field I appreciated this section of Carole Maso's novel. It was moving and portrayed the time before there were meds extremely well. As for the rest of the novel it is too difficult to follow. Too many blurred boundaries but with beautiful language and some scenes I delighted in. From research on the web I found an article by Victoria Frankel Harris, she says, "According to Maso, however, her books seem transgressive, not because she deliberately flaunts the orthodoxies of traditional fiction, but because her models are not drawn from the novelistic tradition at all. The primary influences on her work, rather, come from the visual arts, from dance and music, from film, and from poetry (Maso and Vladimir Nabokov are the only fiction writers ever to be featured on the cover of American Poetry Review). " And, "The Art Lover (1990), resembled Ghost Dance in its focus on a fictive family (the family that, in the novel's final version, are the main characters in the novel-within-the-novel written by Maso's protagonist Caroline). When Maso's friend Gary Falk fell fatally ill with AIDS, however, Maso began to write a different book, one whose textual strategies are even "stranger" than Ghost Dance's." I don't think I'd have the stamina to read her other books, but I am glad to have completed this one and learn about Gary Falk.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kasey Jueds

    There is nobody else like Carole Maso. I'm a huge fan of hers, and though I didn't love Defiance, her most recent novel, I have adored everything else she's written. I'm not sure why I hadn't gotten to The Art Lover until very recently, but I'm so glad I had (unwittingly) saved it. It's a novel... but also part memoir, part novel-within-a-novel, and also a sort of scrapbook, complete with art reviews and maps of the solar system. It's also, to use a couple of overused words, incredibly lyrical a There is nobody else like Carole Maso. I'm a huge fan of hers, and though I didn't love Defiance, her most recent novel, I have adored everything else she's written. I'm not sure why I hadn't gotten to The Art Lover until very recently, but I'm so glad I had (unwittingly) saved it. It's a novel... but also part memoir, part novel-within-a-novel, and also a sort of scrapbook, complete with art reviews and maps of the solar system. It's also, to use a couple of overused words, incredibly lyrical and poetic. I devoured it in about two days, and although it's largely about death, it is both art- and life-affirming, and reading it made me hugely happy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Sweeney Bowen

    I'm at the mid-way point of reading all of Maso's works, and so far, this one stands out as the one that tries the hardest to approximate the healing power of art, bordering on articulating its devastating limitations. I love this book for its specificity of emotion and for its typical Maso meaning-making mechanism of association and repetition. It strikes me as the closest to an artist's statement as you'll get from Maso, and other artists should recognize themselves in it to some extent. I'm at the mid-way point of reading all of Maso's works, and so far, this one stands out as the one that tries the hardest to approximate the healing power of art, bordering on articulating its devastating limitations. I love this book for its specificity of emotion and for its typical Maso meaning-making mechanism of association and repetition. It strikes me as the closest to an artist's statement as you'll get from Maso, and other artists should recognize themselves in it to some extent.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This book -- the format, the content, the crazy layering of stories, the combination of poetry and prose and fiction and nonfiction, the images, the repetition of the images, and most of all, its use of visual art with a super solid and powerful emotional center -- is one of the most innovative, beautiful things I have read in a very long time. I am a little bit in awe of Carole Maso.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    I first read this book in 1996, when I was 14, and I've read it in two graduate school classes since then. It is absolutely one of my favorite books, and has shaped how I see writing and the possibilities of the novel. Here are my notes from that first reading: "An absolutely stunning work in EVERY way. Beautiful in its sorrow and style, as well as the mixing of media." I first read this book in 1996, when I was 14, and I've read it in two graduate school classes since then. It is absolutely one of my favorite books, and has shaped how I see writing and the possibilities of the novel. Here are my notes from that first reading: "An absolutely stunning work in EVERY way. Beautiful in its sorrow and style, as well as the mixing of media."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mina-Louise

    More than moving, more than beautiful. Honest, painful. It's been a while since a book moved me to tears but this one did. Feels a bit ridiculous to write anything after the beauty of this, so I won't. More than moving, more than beautiful. Honest, painful. It's been a while since a book moved me to tears but this one did. Feels a bit ridiculous to write anything after the beauty of this, so I won't.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Broch

    I guess it is difficult to write about death. It felt too naive, even pretentious at times to keep it in memory

  19. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The author spent 9 yrs. after college honing her writing skills while she was a part time fencing instructor, a waitress, an artist's model,and did house & cat sitting according to the info I read on the internet. Her father was a jazz musician and her mother an emergency room nurse. All of this and more is reflected in this book. The author's exploration of life and death and the relationships with the arts is beautifully written. The characters in the book and real life happenings such as the The author spent 9 yrs. after college honing her writing skills while she was a part time fencing instructor, a waitress, an artist's model,and did house & cat sitting according to the info I read on the internet. Her father was a jazz musician and her mother an emergency room nurse. All of this and more is reflected in this book. The author's exploration of life and death and the relationships with the arts is beautifully written. The characters in the book and real life happenings such as the early AIDS epidemic, Rock Hudson's death, Christa McAuliff's death, are explored. It made me recall the first gentle friend I had who died of AIDS and how quietly it was acknowledged. The author repeats images and comments in a way that grabbed my attention and made me ponder how I feel. To me the numerous references to Jesus and Christianity are almost as if religion is being explored as an art form of writing and believing. The author writes "ANOTHER MESSAGE ON THE MACHINE" "Hi, Joanie, this is Celia calling about Boris's surprise party....Be there at 11:00 not 11:30. And bring some vodka. See you!....I think of my own voice left in fragments all over the city. I wonder if somehow all those fragments could be spliced together and played---would that be the message I finally meant to leave?" Made me think, When I die who will have what messages on their message machines that I left? Hmmmmmmm.........

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie B.

    This turned out to be a very good book. At first I though it was a little overwrought and annoying, but after the first fifty or so pages something happened--either I acclimated to Maso’s prose style or else she toned it down. I’m not sure which. My other initial reservation about this book was that it is written in the "pastiche" style, which I tend not to enjoy. In this case, however, I think the non-written elements were actually quite interesting and accessible (I say accessible only because This turned out to be a very good book. At first I though it was a little overwrought and annoying, but after the first fifty or so pages something happened--either I acclimated to Maso’s prose style or else she toned it down. I’m not sure which. My other initial reservation about this book was that it is written in the "pastiche" style, which I tend not to enjoy. In this case, however, I think the non-written elements were actually quite interesting and accessible (I say accessible only because I feel that the tendency in writing a book in this style is to make the pictorial or artifactual elements so obtuse that they often become irrelevant). I also feel compelled to mention, this book made me cry my face off. It took forever to read because I had to stop and cry at every turn. Consider yourself forewarned.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zach VandeZande

    Maso is like a highbrow Lorrie Moore, and that's a very good thing. Tight, clever prose, beautifully written female characters, an eagerness to explore the boundaries of storytelling-as-coping-mechanism. There is a core segment in this novel where Maso reveals herself fully that is hard to ignore. Also hard to ignore is the anxiety surrounding an ancillary character's restoration of Jesus' face in da Vinci's Last Supper. What will his revealed expression be? What if there's nothing underneath? T Maso is like a highbrow Lorrie Moore, and that's a very good thing. Tight, clever prose, beautifully written female characters, an eagerness to explore the boundaries of storytelling-as-coping-mechanism. There is a core segment in this novel where Maso reveals herself fully that is hard to ignore. Also hard to ignore is the anxiety surrounding an ancillary character's restoration of Jesus' face in da Vinci's Last Supper. What will his revealed expression be? What if there's nothing underneath? This is the central issue of the book: how art succeeds and fails in defining the world. All of this is explored in the pastiche of novelist writing, novel written, and autobiography. A little hard to get your head around at first, but well worth it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is perhaps the most important book to me in the world. It's therapy for me whenever I'm going through something tough or wondering about the Big Questions. (I was confused when I started reading it, but once I figured out the story-within-a-story-within-a-story thing, it became a lot easier to understand and, thus, to appreciate.) Maso uses visual art, star charts, torn sections from other books, geometric designs, and more along with her gorgeous prose to create a book that is more than a p This is perhaps the most important book to me in the world. It's therapy for me whenever I'm going through something tough or wondering about the Big Questions. (I was confused when I started reading it, but once I figured out the story-within-a-story-within-a-story thing, it became a lot easier to understand and, thus, to appreciate.) Maso uses visual art, star charts, torn sections from other books, geometric designs, and more along with her gorgeous prose to create a book that is more than a piece of literature. It’s an entire experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dxlyaxe

    The novel seems very disjointed at first, but with time it becomes easier to see all the connections and implications within the novel. She has a very lyrical style, using language at its highest capacity. This can make the book frustrating at times, some of the connective threads are so fine, it is hard to see or understand them. I'm glad I read this book in a college class where ideas and interpretations could be fleshed out and asked. Maso is a joy to read for sure, but not as an easy read. The novel seems very disjointed at first, but with time it becomes easier to see all the connections and implications within the novel. She has a very lyrical style, using language at its highest capacity. This can make the book frustrating at times, some of the connective threads are so fine, it is hard to see or understand them. I'm glad I read this book in a college class where ideas and interpretations could be fleshed out and asked. Maso is a joy to read for sure, but not as an easy read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This text was required reading for my Advanced Seminar in American Studies course at the University of Utah. A more thought-out review to come later.... A beautiful story about love, loss, fate, and powers that guide us. There ought to be something that language can do. We are writing for our lives, and it is terrifying. Maso has created a masterpiece of words - a patchwork of people and families created so that we may tell our own stories.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tal Lee

    An absolutely gorgeous and provocative narrative that invokes, aches, and pulsates. Each sentence feels hand crafted, intentional, and twists and turns to an unexpected finish. Unparalleled assonance and purposeful and effective repetition, Maso's prose reads like poetry, weaving a gorgeous web of description, heartache, nostalgia, and rage. A beautiful work well worth every one of the five stars awarded. An absolutely gorgeous and provocative narrative that invokes, aches, and pulsates. Each sentence feels hand crafted, intentional, and twists and turns to an unexpected finish. Unparalleled assonance and purposeful and effective repetition, Maso's prose reads like poetry, weaving a gorgeous web of description, heartache, nostalgia, and rage. A beautiful work well worth every one of the five stars awarded.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    An obscure book, but one that is fascinating both in form and subject. Not a traditional novel, it tells three stories that never really come together, mixed with various reproductions of fine art and random fliers. Maso made me think about the lines between fiction and nonfiction, author and narrator, art and kitsch, death and life. Absolutely worthwhile.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    In college we sponsored a reading by Ms. Maso and she chose to read the chapter "more winter"... it was beautiful. I return to this book often, because I find the 'textualization' of photo, painting, newsclips, etc. very interesting. She one one of the first authors I ever saw who used this narrative technique. In college we sponsored a reading by Ms. Maso and she chose to read the chapter "more winter"... it was beautiful. I return to this book often, because I find the 'textualization' of photo, painting, newsclips, etc. very interesting. She one one of the first authors I ever saw who used this narrative technique.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    This book was my first introduction to meta-fiction, read in a postmodern lit class as an undergrad. I wrote 2 papers about it and my original copy of it is marked up in 3 colors. Well worth the read if you're up for multi-layered, surreal and sometimes melancholy storytelling. This book was my first introduction to meta-fiction, read in a postmodern lit class as an undergrad. I wrote 2 papers about it and my original copy of it is marked up in 3 colors. Well worth the read if you're up for multi-layered, surreal and sometimes melancholy storytelling.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm

    Sharp, gorgeously written, and at last a novel and learning to love art that doesn't preach to us. Sharp, gorgeously written, and at last a novel and learning to love art that doesn't preach to us.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yahu

    One of the best books I have read in my life!

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