With The Blazing World, internationally bestselling author Siri Hustvedt returns to the New York art world in her most masterful and urgent novel since What I Loved. Hustvedt, who has long been celebrated for her “beguiling, lyrical prose” (The Sunday Times Books, London), tells the provocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After years of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: She presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity.
The three solo shows are successful, but when Burden finally steps forward triumphantly to reveal herself as the artist behind the exhibitions, there are critics who doubt her. The public scandal turns on the final exhibition, initially shown as the work of acclaimed artist Rune, who denies Burden’s role in its creation. What no one doubts, however, is that the two artists were intensely involved with each other. As Burden’s journals reveal, she and Rune found themselves locked in a charged and dangerous game that ended with the man’s bizarre death.
Ingeniously presented as a collection of texts compiled after Burden’s death, The Blazing World unfolds from multiple perspectives. The exuberant Burden speaks—in all her joy and fury—through extracts from her own notebooks, while critics, fans, family members, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of who she was, and where the truth lies.
From one of the most ambitious and internationally renowned writers of her generation, The Blazing World is a polyphonic tour de force. An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle, it explores the deceptive powers of prejudice, money, fame, and desire. Emotionally intense, intellectually rigorous, ironic, and playful, Hustvedt’s new novel is a bold, rich masterpiece, one that will be remembered for years to come.
©2014 Siri Hustvedt (P)2014 Simon & Schuster Audio
I find it hard to say what I liked best in his book, since it has so many layers, voices and themes. I enjoyed the gradual uncovering of the events, like a crime story. I also liked the use of the many different voices. The different persons are characterized by what they tell and how they tell it. The different voices are written with different feeling, for exampel some with love, some with irony and some with a combination. The book covers many interesting thoughts, one main issue is the problem women have to get credit for their art and intellect. But there are also many other themes that was interesting: The workings of the art world in New York, motherhood, aging, dying, how it feels like to be a tall woman and many more. Finally: It's a long time since I had such a good read!
i like to read. i like to listen.
there were times i hated this book, and times i loved this book, and then times i hated it again. and that is why i'm giving it 5 stars.
i have a very soft spot in my heart for books that invoke in me extreme emotions. this book did that. enter -- soft spot.
but seriously. i think that Harriet "Harry" Burden was fantastic. the chapters narrated by her were just the pinnacle of perfection. this novel is a moving and interesting portrait of an extremely unique and obscure artist. the rest of the cast of characters narrating the other portions, some boring and annoying, some riveting and empathetic, made this a well rounded story.
it's definitely not the type of novel for everyone, but it was for me.
Never got into the story. Reciting content of notebooks (A to O or A to something) was dull as were most of the interviews. Reading about someone with a huge chip on their shoulder was just a drag. The book is full of negative people, negative emotions, crappy lives - didn't really like anybody. Perhaps not my genre.
It ended up I was the only one in my Book Club to finish the book with folks having the same perspective I did. Eventually I played it at 2X speed to just get it over with.
Extremely well written-beautiful. Interesting ideas and characters. I like the academic style. The story is revealed through several voices and I did not find all of the narration appealing, but it did fit the characters.
Will return with a full review when I'm done, but for now: the mispronunciations are KILLING me! I understand that the names Bakhtin and Benjamin (with the German j) are perhaps obscure. But "soldered" should be easy!
Just not my kind of story - there was nothing wrong with the writing or the way the story was told - I just found it very boring!
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