September 1, 2007

Fictional painter's prose portrait from Doubleday

The Great Man a novel by Kate Christensen, Doubleday: 308 pp., $23.95.

In the NYTimes, Janet Maslin reviews this fictional posthumous portrait of a painter: "Oscar Feldman, the fictitious painter at the heart of Kate Christensen’s mischievous new novel, was given a lot of latitude during his lifetime. He had a big reputation, two parallel families, and a career based on appreciating female nudes. Now he is gone, and this book, which begins with his obituary in 2001, is about the reassessments that take place after his death. It turns out that Oscar left behind a whole slew of women who would like to re-evaluate him....Ms. Christensen is a witty observer of the art universe that her characters inhabit. She plants Maxine at a dinner party where the 'vegetal consomm√© with tiny bits of green, algae probably, floating on top' makes her think 'that this was the kind of food invalids were given when they were almost dead, either to bring them back from the brink or to sustain them on their journey to the underworld.'"Read more.

Is Christensen indeed a "witty observer of the art universe?" You decide. Read excerpt.

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