Tag Archives: art

The Little Hammer by John Kelly

DATE FINISHED: July 29th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  When he is 9 years old, the artist despatches a paleontologist he meets on the beach by means of his hammer.  When he returns home, his saint-worshipping Grandmother colludes in covering up the crime, which has remained undiscovered as the artist enters his thirties – but it keeps re-surfacing, with the compulsion to confess jarring against the fact of getting away with murder.  Following a trip with the mysterious Billie Maguire during which the artist is filmed telling a farcical and falsified version of his life story, the statue of the Holy Infant of Prague finds its way to the Grandmother’s home in Ireland.  In her little village, miracles occur just as the artist’s life and mind begin to unravel.

THOUGHTS:  Told in the swirling Irish vernacular of the archetypal storyteller at the bar – “Would you believe me if I told you…?” – one would be forgiven for mistrusting the narrator from the beginning.   Read more of this post

Advertisements

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

DATE FINISHED: May 2nd, 2012

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  In the 1930s, Harriet Baxter is an ‘old maid’ looking back on her acquaintance with the Gillespie family, back in the 1890s.  Following a chance encounter on a Glasgow street, Harriet’s friendship with the family grows over the following months, and she becomes an ardent fan of up-and-coming artist Ned Gillespie’s work.   When the Gillespies’ younger daughter disappears, however, relations become strained…

THOUGHTS:   If you have read any reviews of this book, it is impossible to approach it without the knowledge that Harriet is an ‘unreliable narrator’.   Read more of this post

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

DATE FINISHED: April 20th, 2012

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Annie and Buster – also known as Child A and Child B – have been a part of their parents’ conceptual/performance art projects throughout their childhoods.  As they try to carve out their own identities as adults, they begin to realise just how much their lives and personalities have been affected by their unusual upbringing.  Each for their own reasons, the younger Fangs return home, but just as they are beginning to try to make sense of things, their parents disappear.  Is it a horrific murder, as suspected by the police; or is it just another work of art?  As Child A and Child B attempt to flush their parents out of hiding, are they facilitating some greater scheme, or are there bigger issues to contend with?

THOUGHTS:   Where does art end and life begin when the medium of your artwork is not a pen or paintbrush, but human experience?   Read more of this post

The Hearts and Lives of Men by Fay Weldon

DATE FINISHED: April 23rd, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:Helen and Clifford fall in love at first sight, and the conception of Nell is the result. Love is simply not enough, however, and while Helen and Clifford are caught up in a bitter cycle of divorce and re-marriage, hurt and neediness, Nell disappears, falling into a series of bizarre guardianships until fate guides her back into the art world inhabited by her parents.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post