Siri Hustvedt is one of the most intelligent authors I know. Her books are always filled with clever theories and so much stuff we do not know much or nothing about. She is obviously well educated and knows a lot about art and what is behind it. The theory most discussed in this book is about how genders are not treated on an equal basis in the art scene. Men are still more acknowledged and way more famous than women. Harriet Burden, an artist and a feminist, tries an unconventional experiment to prove that fact. She takes three man and uses them as kind of masks. She lets them present her work as if it were their creations. And surprise. Harriet Burden's work has always been neglected and was not well received by the art scene, but now, with male persons presenting it, her works get the fame and attention she always wanted them to have.
Her style of writing is still the same. Still intellectual, compelling, a characteristic of its own. Due to the special form, a collection of statements by various persons, interviews and diary's entries, every character has his own style of writing that tells us a lot about the person itself.
The abstracts of Harriet Burdens notebooks differ so much from the personal statements by her lover, the poet Bruno, that you would not even need the captions, which inform the reader whose texts he is about to read. Every character is given an own, defining language whether it is the most highly intelligent but also kind of mad Harriet Burden, the master of beautiful words Bruno or the weird but impressive and touching Ethan Lord, son of Harriet Burden.
Siri Hustvedt is, like Bruno, a master of words. She creates pictures in your mind. She is like an artist but with words instead of colors. In her book she creates the most stunning pieces of art, describes them so detailed and subtle that I could swear they exist and I have seen them with my own eyes. But they do not. She is not only describing some pictures she is creating them with nothing but words. That is so incredible. I think that makes her more than an author but something like a mix of an author and an artist. After this book I just wish that someone would try to build the pieces she is describing because they sound so impressive that I just want to see them. It is weird how you can be a fan of art that does not exist in real life but only between some sheets of paper and in your mind. ( I feel like I am going mad reading Siri's books, thanks ;))
Though it focused on Harriet Burden, I grew closer to her companions like Bruno, Q. Eldrige or Maisie. It is like the saying, that something a person says about someone else, says more about the person itself.
What I liked the most was a simple thing. Everybody who has read her most famous book “What I loved” (which I think is her best) knows the artist Wechsler. And for all of those who read, Siri Hustvedt lets him appear in her new book. It is like an old friend stepping by, saying hello – thanks Siri, wonderful idea!!
It does not compel like What I loved, but none of her books come close to this masterpiece. Though it is absolutely not an easy read, especially for someone like me, who has had not the advantage of having English as one's mother tongue, I enjoyed reading it. There is so much that can be said about this precious novel but I will cut right to the chase: I can recommend to every body who likes smart, compelling books about art and what's behind. About gender equality not only in the art scene but also in our daily life. And of course to all fans of Hustvedt's work.