CHINESE TAKEOUT by Arthur Nersesian

CHINESE TAKEOUT

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Downtown novelist Nersesian (Dogrun, 2000, etc.) offers a witty tour through the lowest depths of high art in an account of a homeless Manhattan painter trying desperately to be discovered.

Strictly speaking, Orloff Tranchant is not homeless—he lives in his van, which is a good deal more spacious than many New York apartments, and he has sublet a friend’s studio to work in. But it’s a nomadic existence all the same: eating at gallery openings, dodging the meter maids, selling used books on the street for cash. Orloff used to live with his girlfriend June, but he moved out after discovering a portfolio of pornographic sketches she’d drawn of a man who looked nothing like him. Shortly after (whether out of spite or desperation is unclear), June got engaged to a wealthy art collector named Barclay Hammel. All this is par for the course in the New York art game, which Nersesian depicts as a fool’s paradise of vanity, self-obsession, greed, and madness. A good break comes Orloff’s way when Persephone Miller, owner of the Pomegranate Gallery, helps him win a commission to sculpt a tombstone (shaped like a takeout food box) for the grave of a kosher Chinese restaurateur. Plus, Orloff meets and starts going out with Lynn Nguyen, a Vietnamese artist who works near his studio. At the same time, though, Orloff is frustrated in his efforts to help Rita, a heroin addict and prostitute, in reclaiming her life. And, in the unkindest cut of all, Orloff’s van is towed away and impounded for $1,200 in unpaid parking tickets. Everyone knows artists have to suffer for their work—do they have to suffer for alternate-side-of-the-street rules as well?

A fast-paced portrait of the joys and venalities of la vie bohème: Nersesian’s story is sharp without being caustic.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-054882-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2003




MORE BY ARTHUR NERSESIAN

MysteryGLADYSS OF THE HUNT by Arthur Nersesian
by Arthur Nersesian
FictionTHE SWING VOTER OF STATEN ISLAND by Arthur Nersesian
by Arthur Nersesian
FictionUNLUBRICATED by Arthur Nersesian
by Arthur Nersesian

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieThe Robin Stories by Heide Koenitzer Clark
by Heide Koenitzer Clark