- Hardcover: 206 pages
- Publisher: Permanent Pr Pub Co (Oct. 1 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1579622232
- ISBN-13: 978-1579622237
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 454 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
The Rape of the Muse Hardcover – Oct 1 2011
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About the Author
Michael Stein is the author of five novels. His most recent, In The Age Of Love, was a national Booksense/Indie Reader's Choice selection. His first book of non-fiction, The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness, won the 2007 Christopher Award. The New York Times called his second non-fiction book (2009), The Addict:One Patient, One Doctor, One Year, "idiosyncratic, gripping and illuminating." He teaches at Brown University.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The Rape of the Muse is art--computer art to be exact, built with images layered and altered and bound together in form like a sculpted piece. The artist is a sculptor who's lived in exile (in Providence) since his long-ago triumph on the New York stage. His assistant is a young man who's lost his muse and might be falling for another. And his best friend, greatest ally and strongest supporter is either the quietly supportive wife or the unquiet, commercially savvy Simon Pruhar.
I could ask all the questions now I suppose--does commercialism rape the muse of true art? Is love the only true muse? And so on. But asking questions feels prurient after reading this novel--better let the reader follow the story, eyes drawn aside by surprisingly powerful descriptions that paint fine art, ears bent to the everlasting argument, thoughts turned to why?
The two sculptor friends now meet in court, young assistant playing the part of observer, filling in scenes with memories, then searching those remembered scenes for meaning. The muse turns out to be more than she confessed. The uncommunicative child parallels the artist whose vision stalls at man's incomprehension. And the interpretation of image and words shifts and changes. In the end the "truth," if such exists, of libel or allegory lies hidden in the eyes of a courtroom of beholders. The reader, like the observer, moves on, carrying interpretation "in accordance with his own values, beliefs, and lifestyle."
Of all the books I've read recently, this is the one I'd label as art and recommend most highly to my most artistic friends, a novel filled with parallels real or imagined that leaves the reader breathless.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this book from the publisher, the Permanent Press, in exchange for an honest review.
The mythical symbol of an artist's creativity, a muse, appears in the guise of a sexually alluring, stimulating woman. She creates the delusion that she can help the artists get back on track. The reality of the situation is that delusions provide only short term gains in productivity. Where is the renewal of energy and confidence to take artistic action in a timely social context?
The novel involves characters at various levels of self-awareness who are facing turning points in their artistic careers. They have confused movement with action, and discussions of it are often meaningless. But things they say to each other produce serious consequences. They have created art and tried to sell it and have taken to heart the reality of buyer skepticism and pettiness. The characters seem to be permanently blocked.
Mr. Stein has painted a picture in bleak black and white calling to mind Eric Erikson's notion of looking back on life with ego integrity vs despair. Integrity in this novel comes from seeking to find beauty and represent it so that people will simply look at it. It is up to the viewer of a painting or sculpture to decide the value of the art from their own perspective. Once the art is put out there, the viewer owns it and the artist has no control over reactions. If the artist demands respect, despair is inevitable. All that can be hoped for is that viewers will allow themselves to have personally honest reactions and not be swayed by social whims.
The artist does not need to believe in a muse, in fact it is a bit embarrassing like talking to your dog when walking her. He simply needs to get back to work. It is all a matter of the artist continuing to work toward his own unique perspective of beauty. I enjoyed the novel and will read more of the work of Michael Stein.