#65 ~ Artist’s Proof

April 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Beach, Books, entertainment, LIfe, Reading | 1 Comment
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Cover to Artist\'s Proof

Artist’s Proof: A Twisted Tale of Fakes, Frauds, and Murder by Lander Marks

(click here to read Literate Housewife’s exclusive interview)

Has a hobby or a passion ever gotten you into a world of trouble? That is definitely what happens in Artist’s proof, a fast-paced novel that takes you with DJ Singer through the world of modern art auctions from Mexico to Italy in a search for the truth behind one man’s history and his art. Along the way, DJ makes what might be an even more dangerous leap into love – allowing herself to trust and depend on a man. If what you do never puts you in any jeopardy, reading this book might just make you want to get up and find yourself some intrigue.

Artist’s Proof is a novel about two women who have fought their way to the top to find wholly different results. Shannon Phillips is an art auctioneer for Monte Carlo House, an organization that offers art auctions on land as well as by cruise ship. Although the art world is man’s world, she feels that she’s conquered it when she is put in charge of The Monarchy, Monte Carlo House’s newest and most luxurious cruise ship. To her, DJ Singer is an easy mark. DJ singer is a quick witted Jewish car dealer from Las Vegas. Like Shannon, she fought her way through the auto sales to become one of the leading dealers of exotic sport cars. Her success in business has provided her with the means to build an art collection. What seems like an innocent purchase of works in Sol Fleming’s Bible series catapults them both into the dangerous world of international art forgery.

This is most definitely a modern story. From Norah Jones to luxury cruise ships, you feel like this story could be happening today. While this provides a familiar backdrop (okay, maybe not quite the cruise ships for me, but a girl can dream can’t she?), it also adds a layer of complexity. One of the most intriguing clues in the mystery of Sol Fleming are the series of diary entries leaked on the Internet and attributed to him. The impact these cryptic messages might have on the value of his work is what trigger DJ and Ron to dig deeper. It also addresses questions about the Internet and its authenticity. With traditional print media, it is safe to assume a bias. Still, you can usually identify the source of that bias if you want to know. In addition to being global, the Internet provides an atmosphere of anonymity that isn’t available to other forms of media. You can be anyone you want whenever you want.

Although DJ Singer is the heroine of this novel, both she and Shannon share the narration of the book by chapter. These transitions surprised me at first because the promotional literature mentions only DJ. In this context, however, alternating the voice of every other chapter helped to flesh out DJ more fully than what would have been the case otherwise. Despite being somewhat confused by a couple of transitions toward the beginning, I found that the “dueling narrator” approach was well suited for this novel overall. It is a whirlwind rush though Mexico, the United States, and Italy for the sake of art and love, so the extra levels of detail that would be required to tell this story in third person or entirely from DJ’s perspective would have bogged it down.

I do not have much of a background in the art world or in art history. You don’t have to in order to enjoy this novel. Unlike The Forgery of Venus, there’s no condescending tone. It never takes itself too seriously, although at its heart lies a sad social artifact from World War II. Artist’s Proof would make a fun read and would be great for a vacation. You’ll enjoy traveling with DJ and Ron in Italy. Today my husband and I might be herding preschoolers (a noble adventurer in and of itself that is not for the weak of heart), but tomorrow who knows what kind of crazy, sexy, risky spots we might get ourselves into – even if only in our own imaginations? Isn’t that what reading is all about?

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To buy this novel, click here.

#62 ~ The Forgery of Venus

March 23, 2008 at 9:47 pm | Posted in Books, Brain Food for Thought, Culture, Free, Historical Fiction, LibraryThing, Reading | 1 Comment
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venus.jpg

The Forgery of Venus: A Novel by Michael Gruber

What would it be like to live a life in which you cannot trust your memory or your senses to tell you what is true or even who you are? Charles “Chaz” Wilmot lives that nightmare in The Forgery of Venus, the latest novel by Michael Gruber. Chaz is the son of a successful artist who crafted in the tradition of Norman Rockwell but, in his son’s eyes, could have been so much more. Chaz has even more talent than his father did, but he chooses to subsist as a commercial artist taking in piece work for magazines. It isn’t that he doesn’t believe in himself. He just doesn’t believe in the worth of what is being peddled and sold as art. He’s so adamant that it costs him his wife, Lotte, and prevents him from providing the best medical care possible for his ill son. When the use of the experimental drug salvinorin causes Chaz to believe his is actually experiencing parts of Valazquez‘s life and paint exactly like the old master, he finds himself entwined in another man’s art and in the world of high stakes art forgery.

I enjoyed this novel and found its questions about the meaning of life and art very interesting. Not being able to rely on your memories, your senses, or even the answers you requested from your own very young children would be very frightening. I think that I, like Chaz, would prefer to be crazy than for that to be a permanent state of existence. The mystery behind Chaz’s life/lives was intriguing and it was difficult to put this book down. Although I understand the premise of Chaz taping his story for an old college friend, I found the voice and tone of the first narrator hard to overcome. I also found it somewhat difficult to become comfortable with Chaz, but it was worth the effort. If you enjoy Tracy Chevalier don’t mind waiting out the first narrator, you will enjoy this book.

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To buy this novel, click here.

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