Same story, different scene.


Chick lit seeks out culture in Ganek’s debut, an art-world romance.

With more than 300 galleries huddled in Chelsea alone, the New York contemporary art scene is bound to get incestuous. So finds Mia McMurray, a budding “gallerina,” or gallery receptionist (they are known, for the most part, for their haughty attitude, good looks and expensive clothes), at the mediocre Simon Pryce Gallery. But Mia fancies herself different from the others—particularly the loathsome Alexis Belkin—and tells herself that she is working at the gallery only to support her own artistic aspirations. Things heat up at the gallery when Simon holds a show for the talented but unknown Jeffrey Finelli, who is hit by a taxi on the night of his art opening. Suddenly, demand for the paintings is high, particularly the masterpiece Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him. The painting is desired by a well-known collector, the classless wife of a nouveau riche businessman and other players, but the painting’s muse, Finelli’s estranged niece, Lulu, comes forward and claims that the piece was promised to her. Lulu and Mia forge an unlikely friendship, and, as Mia is thrust head-on into the world she has long admired largely from the sidelines, her romantic life takes an unexpected turn. After insisting that she wouldn’t date Zach Roberts (a young, smart, handsome art dealer) because he makes his money in the art world, Mia finally, predictably, succumbs to his charms. Meanwhile, Lulu quits her Wall Street job to become a painter and falls in love with a famous young artist, and Mia quits the gallery and becomes a writer. The Finelli changes hands again, selling at auction for a remarkable sum. The contemporary art scene is a fun, juicy setting, but Mia is, if not a typical Gallerina, certainly a typical chick-lit heroine: insipid and entirely predictable.

Same story, different scene.

Pub Date: June 4, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-03866-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...


An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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