Many reviewers consider this novel a meditation on art.
This is true as it’s really not a story driven piece. Several times I put this book down for a while to consider what I’d read. But it was never going to be a ‘did not finish’ book. I had to take it in stages as the novel itself is art.
The several main characters have their own corners, so to speak, and meet in the middle at different stages. Yet their connections are only to further the exploration of the artist’s soul.
Arky Levin is a New York based film composer who misses his wife. She is in a hospice and has legally stopped him from visiting. She never wanted to be a burden on him when she felt the first signs of herself withering away. Arky is grieving but is respecting her wishes to the anger of his friends and his daughter.
He is contracted to compose a Japanese anime film which is where the author explores aspects of a musician’s approach to their craft.
Arky is fascinated by a live exhibit at MoMA. Marina Abramovic is performing The Artist Is Present, an art event that actually happened back in 2010. Marina sits at a table where the public join her one by one and just look into each other’s eyes. We hear from participants about what a transformative experience this was, to sit and stare at another human being.
Feelings such as “it’s luminous, it’s uplifting, it has many layers, but it always comes back to being present, breathing…” These experiences are as important in this novel as Abramovic’s own artistic journey through the years.
“Artists run their fingers over the fabric of eternity.”
This is my favourite line in the book and ends a paragraph that truly captures the insecurities of having an artistic approach to life. As someone who has always celebrated ‘art for art’s sake’, this novel spoke to me. It was my chance, that as a creative person, to take stock of who I am and how to proceed in a world that should submit to art.
Four and a half stars.