Archive for September, 2008

SIRI HUSTVEDT – WHAT I LOVED

what i loved is a detailed history of two families set in the art world of new york, that describes the inner world of its characters through the artwork they make and the art criticism they write. readers who like art, art history and criticism, new york, and family dramas, will probably love it.

it was well received by about half the bookgroup, and some bookgroupers were very enthusiastic about it.

this may not have been entirely due to the book’s quality however. a big slice of the bookgroup going to new york soon and the book does evoke new york very vividly, or at least a certain style of new york life – galleries, warehouse studios, openings, academics and thoughtful discussion about society with a small group of friends.

the style of life that would appeal to bookgroupers in fact, indeed a style of life not so far from that lived by the bookgroupers – minus new york of course.

the negative impressions of the book were not numerous but included
– with a cynics attitude you could argue the life depicted is quite cliched, a couple comprising two academics that write about art, encounter a handsome struggling artist in a run down warehouse that he rented ‘because of the light’, and with their help he goes on to be a big success
– the author could also be criticised for writing for her literary friends and showing off her knowledge about art rather than writing a book for a real audience

the most unusual aspect of the book was that a very large proportion of it is devoted to very detailed descriptions of fictional artworks, and equally detailed analyses of the meaning of these fictional artworks, and how they sat within the history of art.

it seems to me this is an unusual, and perhaps ambitious, thing to do in a book – why should a reader be interested in the details of non-existent artworks, and even more so in an analysis of their meaning?

however it worked for many bookgroupers. they felt is was a device for revealing the character and feelings of bill, the artist character, and of leo the art history academic character, in whose voice the book is written

for me it was initially interesting, but after a while i started to get bored with it and wished she would get on with the story and stop talking about the art.

everyone one agreed it was well written and easy to read, but also quite bleak towards the end.

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September 20, 2008 at 9:15 am Leave a comment


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