All posts tagged: art

The writing will blow you away–Katherine Forbes Riley talks about perseverance, trauma, art, a stone cottage in the woods, and so much more in her luscious debut, THE BOBCAT. Plus, her amazing reading list!

By Leslie Lindsay  Haunting and lyrical, magical and yet melancholy, about traumas and art, imagination, a meditation on nature, nurture, even medicine.  THE BOBCAT (Skyhorse/Arcade Publishing, June 18 2019) is one of those quiet, insidious debuts that will grab you by the scruff of your neck and won’t let you go. It’s such a deliberate and descriptive read (don’t be fooled by the slim size), and so well done, you’ll find yourself almost hallucinating as you read. That’s a good thing. Laurelie is a young art student at a college in Vermont. She’s bright and yet scarred by a violent sexual attack leaving her unwilling and unable to trust. She retreats to a cottage in the woods where she explores her world through art and nature, where she is the most comfortable in the comfort of a little boy she babysits. I absolutely loved her cottage—but I’m such a connoisseur of homes. While out along the river banks, Laurelie and the boy come across a pregnant–and injured–bobcat, and the hiker who has been following it for miles. Both the hiker and Laurelie are struggling with …

Dreams, creativity, the plasticity of children, plus child endangerment, not ‘meaning’ to write a novel, and so much more in the stunning new book from Lauren Acampora, THE PAPER WASP

By Leslie Lindsay  A stunning foray into the brilliant unconscious of one very creative, yet disturbed woman, THE PAPER WASP is about friendship, but equally about art and dreams. In 2015, I tore through Lauren Acampora’s debut, THE WONDER GARDEN, a collection of linked short stories which dazzled and intrigued–and yes, unsettled me. I was thrilled to come across her newest book, THE PAPER WASP (June 11, Grove Atlantic), which is her first novel. Abby Graven is twenty-eight. She lives at home with her mother and father (and maybe older sister, who seems to have some concerns with the law). Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes at her job at a discount store in Michigan. Each day she is taunted by her best friend from school, who made it big as a Hollywood actress. Elise is gorgeous and talented, having escaped the pedantic life of Michigan, she’s the awe of all in her hometown. Abby painstakingly purchases every magazine Elise is featured and constructs collages of her. And then Elise …

What happens when you’re inspired by a piece of visual art & you’re short story writer? This stark, moving collection, SCENES FROM THE HEARTLAND is born

By Leslie Lindsay  What happens when a contemporary writer of semi-autobiographical short fiction turns her gaze to the iconic images of America’s past? This glimmering collection, SCENES FROM THE HEARTLAND I’m a sucker for anything Missouri, anything Midwest. That’s probably because this strange little state smack in the U.S. is what shaped me, the place I still think of as ‘home,’ even though I’ve lived elsewhere more than half my life now. There’s a realness, an authenticity to the state, which is a conglomeration of everything and nothing–North, South, East, and West. It has the rolling Ozark mountains, the winding Mississippi, big cities and tiny ones, wealth and poverty. To be a Missourian is to contain multitudes. So when I heard about SCENES FROM THE HEARTLAND (Serving House Books, March 31 2019), I knew I had to read it. The reader enters the imagined landscape of one of the most well-known American painters, Thomas Hart Benton, slipping back to the 1920s, 30s, and 40s to Southern Missouri, Arkansas, SW Illinois, St. Louis, Kansas City, Hannibal, and more. We …

Susan Gloss talks about her love for art, how it intersects with life, grief, and loss, plus she introduces me to a new word, oh–and this gorgeous book, THE CURIOSITIES

By Leslie Lindsay  A tender exploration of love and loss, addiction and recovery, pain and healing, THE CURIOSITIES is about the fragile condition of the human soul and art.  Madison, Wisconsin is a mecca of artistic pursuits–with a ton of authors in residence, but in all honesty, I am not sure I’ve read a book *set* in Madison—but THE CURIOSITIES (Berkley, Feb 2019)–takes place right in the heart of the city. I loved this! Plus, I absolutely adore reading about art–it’s like two art forms in one, a double treat. Nell Parker has a PhD in art history. She lives in a cozy Craftsman bungalow with her attorney/professor husband, but she is devastated by a recent miscarriage. She’s grieving and having difficulty moving forward. Plus, she’s swimming in a mound of (secret) debt. As luck would have it, Nell finds herself accepting a position as the director of a nonprofit artist’s colony, established by the late Betsy Barrett, a patron of the modern arts. Nell isn’t sure she’s exactly cut out for the job, but she’s willing to give it …

The intersection of art and madness, of never giving up, children’s literature, & so much more in Laurel Davis Huber’s THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER

By Leslie Lindsay Gorgeous rendering of the true story of a famous author mother and her equally, if not more famous visual artist daughter, THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER will capture and delight audiences of historical fiction.  Winner of the 2017 Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction The intersection of art and madness has always intrigued–and so when I came across THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER (SWP, 2017) I knew I needed to read it. And I’m so glad I did. Told from multiple, alternating first-person POVs, readers get a luminous insight into the lives of Margery Williams Bianco, the author of the children’s classic, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, and her daughter, child prodigy artist, Pamela Bianco.  Reading historical fiction almost always brings to the surface lives I had little or no knowledge of, and is always such a delight. Of course, I knew of THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, but never really gave its author much thought. Huber writes with such a tender hand, bringing this tale of motherhood, creativity, and mental illness to light; I loved every minute. “. . . a masterpiece. . . . Incandescent, pitch-perfect, and destined …

STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY brings poetry and design to life as one grapples with what it means to live a life worth living, plus Sears Kit Homes, helper monkeys, & more

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously rendered novel about love and loss, compassion, and humor, STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY absolutely wow-ed me.  Some books select YOU and this is absolutely one of them; I found STILL LIFE WITH MONKEY immensely moving, well-developed, and poignant. Duncan Wheeler is a 37-year-old successful architect (swoon!) married to a woman who is in art conservation (also, swoon) and they are trying to have a baby…but… Duncan and his intern are in a fatal car accident one day coming home from a site visit. His young intern dies and Duncan is left a quadriplegic, in a wheelchair. Duncan isn’t sure if he’s truly ‘lucky’ as everyone says…everyday is a fractured attempt at living the life he once had. Duncan’s will to live falters and his wife, Laura, reaches out to the Primate Institute of New England in effort to obtain a ‘helper monkey’ for Duncan. Maybe having Ottoline’s ‘helping hands’ around, Duncan won’t feel so dependent on others, perhaps his faith in life will be restored. And for awhile, it does. Ottoline is delightful and charming and …

Stunning fictional portrayal of the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud, & so much more in this glimmering historical fiction, LITTLE–with amazing illustrations–by the immensely talented Edward Carey

By Leslie Lindsay  Richly imagined novel of the woman who would one day become known as Madame Tussaud is charming as it is eccentric.  And I was mesmerized. Edward Carey is here chatting about how the cast  of characters was ‘exhausting and worrying,’ how LITTLE is like a ‘very dark fairytale,’ how Louis XVI was really a ‘pretty bad king, but a great locksmith…and would often go to the top of Versailles to shoot feral cats,’ and so much more.  Narrated by Marie Grosholtz, the ‘tiny,’ bright and ambitious orphan, apprenticed to a wax sculptor, readers fall easily into her charm, her wonderful, strange, and fascinating world of wax modeling.  I so loved LITTLE (Riverhead, 2018), which is tumbling with drama, from the challenging early years of Marie’s life (her father died from the Seven Years War) and her mother’s suicide, through her apprenticeship at to Doctor Curtius (who was a physician but also a wax sculptor), the streets of Paris, Versailles, and through the French Revolution. Seriously, LITTLE has so much going for it–love and loss, sharp eccentricities, morbidity, …

Who knew Grand Central Terminal had a defunct art school? Fiona Davis explores art, history, and the intersection of the 1970s NYC in THE MASTERPIECE

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeous book inside and out (total cover crush!) about blazingly unique–and strong–woman separated by two different time periods and combining art, history, NYC, and a bit of woman’s lib. Fiona is joining us to chat about Depression-era art, real-life inspiration behind her fictional characters, how story and art is so important in times of unrest, and an inkling of her next book.  Fiona Davis has wow-ed me once again with THE MASTERPIECE (Dutton, August 7 2018), which I feel is exactly that–her best yet. What she excels at is in this and also THE DOLLHOUSE (2016) and THE ADDRESS (2017) is so apparent: meticulous research makes for a rich reading experience; plus dazzling prose, an element of mystery, and intriguing characters. It’s 1928 and Clara Darden is a single woman artist living in NYC and teaching at the little-known Grand Central School of Art (which existed between 1924-1944 at the Grand Central Terminal). Clara is an up-and-coming illustrator but many of her contemporaries don’t consider illustrations ‘real art.’ But it’s her dream. She wants to …

Shimming tale set in Chicago and Paris in the 1980s and 1920s about art, AIDS, loss, memory & so much more Rebecca Makkai on THE GREAT BELIEVERS

By Leslie Lindsay  Rebecca Makkai talks about her thrumming new literary fiction that will enrapture you and transport you to 1985 Chicago at the height of the AIDS epidemic, then toss you back to Paris in the 1920s. Plus, memory, loss, character development, healthcare and more. Please join us.  Every now and then there is a book that makes my heart sing. I mean, really, really sing. And when THE GREAT BELIEVERS (June 19, 2018 Viking/Penguin RandomHouse) came along, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. And oh my gosh, I am so glad I did.  Seriously, this book is going to be big. I’ve been seeing it on all kinds of lists since this spring–best summer reading, best for book groups, and books set in Chicago, to name a few. But it’s also a bit controversial. AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. LGBQTA+ issues. Art in France in the 1920s. But the writing! Oh, the writing! I can’t say enough about that.  It’s achingly gorgeous. You’ll read and be a bit blown …

Wednesdays with Writers: Ever wondered who that girl was in the famed Andrew Wyeth American painting? Christina Baker Kline tackles that and more in her gloriously written imagined memoir A PIECE OF THE WORLD

By Leslie Lindsay  From the New York Times bestselling author of the smash hit ORPHAN TRAIN comes a stunning novel inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s famous—and mystifying—painting, “Christina’s World.” A PIECE OF THE WORLD is lucid, well-told, and highly transportive.  I have a thing with art. Be it writing, reading, visual art, music, even nature, I’m swept away with the creative magic that appears at the hands of an artist. When those worlds collide, as they do in Christina Baker Kline’s A PIECE OF THE WORLD, my heart sings. “Christina’s World” hung at my great-aunt’s house in her den. Like many, I stared at that painting and imagined the breeze in my hair, the sweet scent of dried grass, lingered in that weather-worn house. And then, simply forgot about it. Christina Baker Kline brings the painting to the forefront once again with her use of tremendous description. She gives that women in the painting a name, a life…rather, that woman always existed, unbeknownst to me, and here, she comes alive, fully formed.  The story is told entirely …