A perfect short exposé of Hockney’s life as seen through the eyes of an admiring novelist.


A fictionalized life of the gay British painter who came to define and embody California dreaming.

Many have tried to put into words the tumultuous life of the much-loved British David Hockney, but few have captured his essence. In this novel, Cusset (The Story of Jane, 2001, etc.) traces Hockney’s life from his first encounter with art as a child to his sexual awakening to the bursts of luck and opportunity that punctuated his career to his heartbreak, in so many senses of the word. Cusset paints a picture that, for those familiar with Hockney’s work and life, feels hyper-realistic. In fact, it’s often hard to draw the line between biography and novel—perhaps this is what gives the book its strength. “David knew that success didn’t just fall from the sky. In New York he had admired what in England would have been considered bad taste: the ease with which Americans knew how to sell themselves, without getting bogged down in false shame and feelings of guilt,” Cusset says through the omniscient narrator. The sentence summarizes Hockney’s understanding of the art world: one where personalities thrive and personal histories crumble, where taste dominates and timidity falters. So begins Hockney’s eccentric career as an explicitly gay artist living in the world; from London to San Francisco to Paris to Los Angeles, there isn’t a cosmopolitan city his work hasn’t touched. Cusset discusses with grace the heart-wrenching relationship with Peter Schlesinger—the primary male subject of most of Hockney's early- and midcareer paintings—that the artist watched dissolve. “Peter was sexier than Marilyn, sexier than the living doll in the song by Cliff Richard that David liked so much. A boy doll. David would have given his kingdom for a kiss.” Cusset’s style oozes with delicacy, pointedness, and gusto. She masters the short sentence, enlivening the narrative with the speed of Hockney’s rise to fame—a speed that comes to perfectly mirror his experience with the AIDS epidemic, friends dying too quickly all around him.

A perfect short exposé of Hockney’s life as seen through the eyes of an admiring novelist.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59051-983-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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