A lively art-world drama that tackles grand themes.


A potentially valuable work of art generates familial animosity, legal drama, and political intrigue in this debut novel.

Nick Jaffe is a successful artist in his late 70s living in Sarasota, Florida, who’s inclined toward frothing diatribes about the shallowness of modern art—particularly its embrace of abstraction. He’s known for creating figurative pictures, which are generally regarded as beautiful, if unfashionable. Nick confides in Robert Ainsley—the owner of the art gallery that exhibits and sells his work—that he possesses what appears to be a painting by Ty Bromley that, if authentic, could be worth untold millions. In the 1960s, when Nick studied art in New York City, he was close friends with Bromley, but they had a falling-out over their conflicting opinions on the nature of art. Bromley later became a celebrity for producing precisely the kind of work Nick despised. The old artist remains maddeningly vague about the painting’s provenance, but he entrusts it to Robert for safekeeping, anxious that his own wayward adult son, David, might attempt to steal it. When Nick dies, he leaves all of his art to Robert, who, in turn, has the Bromley authenticated by experts. David stages an open war for the Bromley’s ownership, and as publicity around it grows, a nefarious Russian oligarch and a despot from a nation called El Pico make a bid for it, too. Meanwhile, Robert attempts to repair his broken marriage. Debut author Mann has conjured a deliciously eclectic drama that sharply satirizes pretention and venality in the professional art world. Throughout the novel, his knowledge of both art and the law is redoubtable—he’s a lawyer by profession—and his prose is self-assured and inventive; the Bromley painting even gets a chance to speak for itself in a chapter titled “First Painting Singular.” Undergirding the drama and high jinks is a serious consideration of what truly counts as art—or, more precisely, a presentation of the great debate about what it means for something to truly be beautiful. As a result, Mann’s inaugural effort is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

A lively art-world drama that tackles grand themes.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-979629-66-9

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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