Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cut-throat world of contemporary art, when he stumbles onto a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant named Victor Cracke has disappeared, leaving behind a staggeringly large trove of original artwork. Nobody can say anything for certain about Cracke, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged. All that is about to change.
So what if, strictly speaking, the art doesn't belong to Ethan? He can sell it - and he does just that, mounting a wildly successful show. Buyers clamor. Critics sing. Museums are interested, and Ethan's photo looks great in The New York Times. Then things go to hell....
©2008 Jesse Kellerman; (P)2008 Penguin
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is my first Jesse Kellerman book. I have read books written by his parents. The book started out with Ethan Muller who has an art gallery being called by his father's right hand man, to a ghetto housing area own by his father to find a collection of art in an abandoned apartment. Ethan displays the art and sets off to learn about and or find the artist Victor Cracke. The story has some interesting twists and turns but as it goes along it seems to drag. I got the feeling the story was being dragged out just to add more chapters. Kirby Heyborn did a good job narrating the story. I will try another Jesse Kellerman book.
That's how the book opens -- and it's dead wrong. In the beginning, Kellerman behaved wonderfully. In the beginning, he wrote a compelling story. It's toward the end that it bogs down and becomes nearly unreadable.
In the beginning, I loved this book -- a fascinating and totally unique concept for a story, populated by interesting characters, written with, I thought, extreme honesty and integrity. I had to admire the author (and presumably the protagonist) when he talked about how 'pretentious' the art world was. Just a lot of good lines in there that made it well worth listening to. Literary, while still being a compelling page turner.
In the beginning, I even liked the early parts of the family story, inserted into the narrative. Those stores of the supreme hardship and sacrifice those immigrants went through, followed by their ultimate success, are true, of course, and I thought this segment was well written, too. The Muller family came to life on the page.
Then something happened. It wasn't only that the character of Victor Cracke as an adult isn't likable -- as a child, I felt sorry for him. The tale of his childhood years was interesting too -- this is unique stuff, hardly the kind of story that could get labeled "thriller". The story line is just simply highly original -- worthy of note for that reason alone.
But....Something happened. Maybe it dragged out too long, maybe the character of Cracke became just too unpleasant, maybe I got tired of reading of homosexual encounters -- actually, no "maybe" about that. I did get tired of it, and resorted to Ye Olde Take-The-Earbuds-Out routine, until it was safe to listen again. It was too much, somehow. A good story, taken too far off the mainstream to remain interesting. If Kellerman had ended it 100 pages earlier it might have been much better. There's only so much perversion most of us regular readers are willing to tolerate.
I finished it -- but not with much pleasure. For what it's worth, I loved the two other Jesse Kellerman books I've read, Sunstroke and Trouble. And I liked this one too -- in the beginning....
For the first time ever I gave up on an audiobook. I didn't like any of the characters, especially the protagonist, and I hated the "interlude" sections about his parents. I didn't believe any of them to be real people. To be honest, I didn't enjoy the way it was narrated either.
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