THE ART LOVER by Carole Maso


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Maso's first novel, Ghost Dance (1986), revealed ambition and talent undermined by lack of judgment; the talent is less apparent in this experimental pastiche about loss. Protagonist Caroline leaves an arts colony and returns to N.Y.C. after her art historian father's death. She makes lists, collects ephemera and snippets of art criticism, and begins to write a second novel (her first was a wild success) in an attempt to order the senseless world. She soon runs into a childhood friend now dying of AIDS. There's careful construction and use of symbols and themes as Caroline's experience influences the fiction she invents: e.g., the ""star"" that explodes fatally in her father's brain reappears in such forms as constellation myths, Sky Watch charts reproduced from The New York Times, and in the star of Bethlehem. Jesus occasionally enters as a character, as the novel repeatedly asks how the Father can forsake the children and why God inflicts suffering. Meanwhile, the text is enlivened with sketches, Renaissance art reproductions, and contemporary handbills, but these are not enough to energize the story: Caroline's perceptions are too attenuated to engage the reader, while the novel-within-the-novel is marred by cliche. At last the real author, Maso, intrudes with the true stow of the death from AIDS of her friend, artist Gary Falk. Maso's sincerity and grief are obvious, but--except for the touching account of her friend's last days--the material here remains schematic and undeveloped: disappointing fiction.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1990
ISBN: 0811216292
Publisher: North Point