The Art Lover
Although a read in progress from 2008, this book was officially finished during the first few hours of 2009, and therefore the first book of our chronicle project. I love Carole Maso’s writing. I had heard of her briefly before I read AVA, and one of the review quote of AVA said, “Carole Maso does for the sentence what Virginia Woolf did for the paragraph,” and that is never too far from my mind when I’m observing how Maso strings words together.
The Art Lover follows writer Caroline through the losses of her father and her best friend over several years while also remembering her mother, who committed suicide when Caroline was six. The second story being told is the second book Caroline is writing after having been struck with a paralyzing case of writer’s block since the publication of her first novel at the age of 20. The characters in her story are processing the abandonment of their father for a younger woman, and thus, the exploration of loss takes place on every page. What does it mean for someone to leave your life permanently- either through death or choice- or the choice of death? Are those we have lost always with us, for better or worse? How do we continue to love in the face of all this loss, pending or occurred?
While this novel seems to be ambling toward an unknown goal through much of the story- well-written but without a specific purpose- that point comes into sharp relief near the end, and I realized this is the best of a writer’s work being autobiographical. Not a book for all, but a worthy experience for those who want a novel that makes them feel.