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Art Is Everything

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In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living pea In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living peacefully in Koreatown; Amanda is about to enjoy a residency at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and, once she gets her NEA, she’s going to film a groundbreaking autocritical documentary in Mexico. But then everything starts to fall apart when Xochitl’s biological clock begins beeping, Amanda’s father dies, and she endures a sexual assault. What happens to an artist when her emotional support vanishes along with her feelings of safety and her finances? Written as a series of web posts, Instagram essays, Snapchat freakouts, rejected Yelp reviews, Facebook screeds, and SmugMug streams-of-consciousness that merge volcanic confession with eagle-eyed art criticism, Art Is Everything shows us the painful but joyous development of a mid-career artist whose world implodes just as she has a breakthrough.


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In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living pea In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living peacefully in Koreatown; Amanda is about to enjoy a residency at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and, once she gets her NEA, she’s going to film a groundbreaking autocritical documentary in Mexico. But then everything starts to fall apart when Xochitl’s biological clock begins beeping, Amanda’s father dies, and she endures a sexual assault. What happens to an artist when her emotional support vanishes along with her feelings of safety and her finances? Written as a series of web posts, Instagram essays, Snapchat freakouts, rejected Yelp reviews, Facebook screeds, and SmugMug streams-of-consciousness that merge volcanic confession with eagle-eyed art criticism, Art Is Everything shows us the painful but joyous development of a mid-career artist whose world implodes just as she has a breakthrough.

44 review for Art Is Everything

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    The right book for the right reader, not for me. I read about ½ of it before going to a more traditional book, which suits me better. I did love this author's book of short stories, but this one didn't work for me. The right book for the right reader, not for me. I read about ½ of it before going to a more traditional book, which suits me better. I did love this author's book of short stories, but this one didn't work for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    Experimental novels much like experimental art so heavily featured in this one are very much an acquired taste. It might explain why I’m the first person rating and reviewing this novel on GR. I wasn’t sure about this book going in and took some chapter to get into it, it goes well beyond unconventional straight into the idiosyncratic territory. Told through a multitude of ranty essays, this is a story of a Mexican American (mostly) performance artist as she progresses creatively and personally, Experimental novels much like experimental art so heavily featured in this one are very much an acquired taste. It might explain why I’m the first person rating and reviewing this novel on GR. I wasn’t sure about this book going in and took some chapter to get into it, it goes well beyond unconventional straight into the idiosyncratic territory. Told through a multitude of ranty essays, this is a story of a Mexican American (mostly) performance artist as she progresses creatively and personally, taking her from her mid 30s to early 40s. That’s fairly straight forward. The structure though is nowhere near that. The essays are somewhat disjointed, although kindly enough, chronological, in fact it appears they have been previously published one at a time and only now gathered into a novel. And so this novel experience (yes, that is a double entendre) is already unconventional, consisting of posted social media commentary, failed Wikipedia entries, business proposals, etc. all mainly on the subject of art, but all heavily interspersed with profoundly personal information as their author eagerly overshares with the world about her father’s death and the dissolution of her relationship with the love of her life among other things. On top of that all of these essays are done in a very much hyperverbal stream of consciousness fashion. So yeah, maybe a tough sell to general population, but the thing is…this book was kind of genius. After you get used to its unconventional style and its manic narrator, you have this magnificent plethora of information. Random knowledge, from great thinkers to, of course, great (and otherwise) artists, to movies, books and industry, it’s a work of a prodigiously erudite viciously intelligent hypercritical mind and it hits like a tornado, an unruly and undeniable force. Above all, it’s just so freaking smart, the kind of smart one might only aspire to in their only humble writing. It’s a strange thing, because the protagonist is someone I wouldn’t enjoy on a personal level, she’s much too much, exhaustingly so, as the love of her life learned in their 6 years together and subsequently did the only rational thing and left. The protagonist is an artist consumed with art, she pushes envelopes and people, self sabotaging and tilting at windmills and also perfectly legitimate glass ceilings, she cannonballs through life with a manic energy that is difficult to appreciate for those outside her and her art, fraught with meaning and message as it is, is controversially exclusive to only a certain type of art appreciation, but…but her mind is a thing of undeniable beauty in all its fiery misfires and luminous interconnectivity of thoughts and notions. I’m kind of in awe, which is, of course to say, I’m in awe of the author of this book, who is actually a law professor…what? You’d think for sure an art professor, but no, law. Mind you, she can teach art, based on this book, not just because of her vast knowledge of the subject, but because of how she explains it and makes it shine. Seriously, I don’t even actually like performance art and this book gave me an entirely new level of appreciation for it. Murray’s didactics make the featured art come to life and display relevance and significance that isn’t always obvious otherwise. Plus her use of language alone, the cleverly crafted sentences, the aggressive sapience of the ideas, the vocabulary, all of that…awesome, awesome, awesome. This book was so smart, it made the world seem all the dumber by comparison. It also had the same effect on other books I read subsequently. And, of course, our library has no books by the author. You’d think in their recent and quite rampant quest for inclusivity they’d grab something so ethnically and culturally diverse, but no. So at any rate, for all the things I loved about the book, it isn’t a perfect book and here’s why not…at some juncture the protagonist, who previously was against having babies so much she drove her beloved away, just a few years later finds herself pregnant and, despite a proper support network, source of income, partner, etc. decides to have the baby, which promptly turns her into a proper grown up with a proper job and all that. So fundamentally here, despite all its undeniable intellectual antiestablishment excellence, you have a novel about a woman who just needed a baby to complete her and turn her into a properly functional, more or less conventional adult. And that’s just…trite. And too f*cking easy by far for a novel about a person who has made an art out of avoiding the easy ways. So there’s that. Not great. But nowhere near enough to overshadow all that the novel accomplishes so spectacularly otherwise. And so (mostly) awesome it stands. For art education alone this was great. All the other edifying heavily opinionated ingeniously curated delights have tipped it into the awesome zone. Thanks Netgalley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    Art is Everything is one of the most experimental books I have ever read. At first I found it difficult to get into, but eventually, when I accustomed myself to the style, I began to enjoy it. I struggled to relate to Amanda in many ways, mostly due to her online rants (being more of a bottle-it-up person myself); however, those essays were (ranting aside) full of incredibly interesting information. For example, I had never heard the story of how dark the original Pretty Woman script was. This m Art is Everything is one of the most experimental books I have ever read. At first I found it difficult to get into, but eventually, when I accustomed myself to the style, I began to enjoy it. I struggled to relate to Amanda in many ways, mostly due to her online rants (being more of a bottle-it-up person myself); however, those essays were (ranting aside) full of incredibly interesting information. For example, I had never heard the story of how dark the original Pretty Woman script was. This morning, I Googled it and discovered everything mentioned about it in Art is Everything is true. So, it was certainly an informative read as well as a thought-provoking one. On the latter side of things, the book explores many issues from the nature of art and the artist to dealing with sexual assault. In conclusion, I would say this is not a book that is going to appeal to all readers, but if you are willing to try something completely different and come at it with an open mind, Art is Everything is a book that will leave you with a lot to contemplate. It was a 3.5 star read for me. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Art Is Everything is a novel about art, creativity, relationships, sexual assault, gender, and race, written in an experimental style combining online essays, rants, and reviews along with search history. Amanda Ruiz is a performance artist in L.A. with a successful girlfriend, Xochitl, and plans for residencies and films to further her creative work. However, when Xochitl wants them to have a baby—which isn't compatible with Amanda's artistic plans—and Amanda's father dies, things start to fall Art Is Everything is a novel about art, creativity, relationships, sexual assault, gender, and race, written in an experimental style combining online essays, rants, and reviews along with search history. Amanda Ruiz is a performance artist in L.A. with a successful girlfriend, Xochitl, and plans for residencies and films to further her creative work. However, when Xochitl wants them to have a baby—which isn't compatible with Amanda's artistic plans—and Amanda's father dies, things start to fall apart, and it turns out that doing art and not selling out is much easier when you have people around you. This is likely to be a divisive novel due to its style, with chapters that are rejected Yelp reviews and Instagram essays and no straightforward part of the narrative to return to between these. Personally, I found the structure worked really well, and there was plenty of the story built into Amanda's various online posts, meaning it felt like a clever way of playing with the amount people share online, even in unusual forums like reviews or things posted online for work. The art and philosophical criticism built in was interesting and gave a further sense of Amanda's mental state, in terms of distraction and looking for comparison with her own life. However, I found the actual story, and the lack of connections to any characters who aren't Amanda, harder to engage with, which was disappointing. Art Is Everything is witty and imaginative, written in a distinctive way that tracks a breakdown through online posts, building a real portrait of the protagonist, a bisexual Chicana artist. I found my attention waning nearer the end of the book and the way the story is told leaves a lot up in the air (as you only get what Amanda posts online), but it is an enlightening read, even if just for what you learn from Amanda's rants and art reviews.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    My expectations of the book kind of ruined the experience. The blurb gave me a different idea about how the formatting of the book was (Instagram post, Wikipedia articles, emails etc) when In fact it’s mostly just art essays. Pretty good art essays, I should add, but because it was not what I expected it took me a little bit of time to get into the swing of it - the second half of the book picks up and i enjoyed this more (when the art essays start describing more compelling subjects). The book My expectations of the book kind of ruined the experience. The blurb gave me a different idea about how the formatting of the book was (Instagram post, Wikipedia articles, emails etc) when In fact it’s mostly just art essays. Pretty good art essays, I should add, but because it was not what I expected it took me a little bit of time to get into the swing of it - the second half of the book picks up and i enjoyed this more (when the art essays start describing more compelling subjects). The book is more like a collection of art essays with a loose narrative added into it. I’m glad I read it - it introduced me to a lot of interesting women of colour artists and performance artists.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Dimitre

    |This book was won from a Goodreads giveaway| This was a fun time, and interesting, if extremely pretentious. One of those books that's just sort of super depressing just based on the main character's view on things, so that was fun; I liked the digressions and everything, looking deeper into art and why it means so much to people. I liked the descriptions of motherhood and I liked the formatting ; this is a nontraditional novel in that it's written in Tweets, blog posts, deleted Wikipedia pages |This book was won from a Goodreads giveaway| This was a fun time, and interesting, if extremely pretentious. One of those books that's just sort of super depressing just based on the main character's view on things, so that was fun; I liked the digressions and everything, looking deeper into art and why it means so much to people. I liked the descriptions of motherhood and I liked the formatting ; this is a nontraditional novel in that it's written in Tweets, blog posts, deleted Wikipedia pages (because she keeps editorializing!). And, if nothing else, it sure made me feel smart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maya

    This was a DNF for me. I loved Murray's traditionally structured books, like The King's Gold, but I struggled with the non-traditional format of Art is Everything. I also had trouble connecting with the narrator. If you're a more adventurous reader than I am with a passion for art, this might be a great book for you. Alas, it was not for me. I'm not providing a rating. Since I didn't finish the book, it doesn't seem fair to taste it. This was a DNF for me. I loved Murray's traditionally structured books, like The King's Gold, but I struggled with the non-traditional format of Art is Everything. I also had trouble connecting with the narrator. If you're a more adventurous reader than I am with a passion for art, this might be a great book for you. Alas, it was not for me. I'm not providing a rating. Since I didn't finish the book, it doesn't seem fair to taste it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laila

    I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you for the opportunity. I didn't really understand or enjoy this book as it felt disjointed and it lacked flow. An OK book. I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review. Thank you for the opportunity. I didn't really understand or enjoy this book as it felt disjointed and it lacked flow. An OK book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marie Pascale Geist

  10. 4 out of 5

    Max Durón

  11. 4 out of 5

    Indigo

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

  13. 5 out of 5

    Northwestern University Press

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Briggs

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erika Hardison

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Fieldman

  18. 4 out of 5

    Acricr

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim Hafeman

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jess orellana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beige

  23. 5 out of 5

    Noor

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Williamson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brie

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  32. 5 out of 5

    Glen Helfand

  33. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  34. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

  35. 5 out of 5

    Miya

  36. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Peterson

  37. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

  38. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

  39. 5 out of 5

    Kye Cantey

  40. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  41. 5 out of 5

    Traci

  42. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  43. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  44. 5 out of 5

    Marnie Ward

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