July’s book is The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose. Winner of the 2017 StellaPrize, the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the 2017 Margaret Scott Prize and the People’s Choice Award in the Tasmanian Premier’sLiterary Prizes, it is set during the performance by artist Marina Abramovic of The Artist is Present at MOMA New York in 2010. Around this factual event, the novel introduces the reader to a cast of fictional characters, visitors to the performance, each of whom is grappling with their own life circumstances and challenges.
With growing curiosity and attraction to Abramovic’s performance, these personalities react to the art and each other.
The Stella prize judges felt “It is rare to encounter a novel with such powerful characterisation, such deep understanding of the consequences of personal and national history, … and such dazzling and subtle explorations of the important of art in everyday life”. The theme of human connection is predominant both in the performance and the novel which is “a meditation on the social, spiritual and artistic importance of seeing and being seen”.
Many of us agreed with the judges. We enjoyed the narrative style, found the pace compelling and the characters interestingly drawn. We were very impressed with Rose’s technical skill at representing a number of different artistic media of work
within the book – performance art, musical composition and architecture and the way she explored different perspectives of creativity. Others of us were less engaged especially by the characters, found the writing plodding and uninspiring and the resolution weak.
Heather Rose was born (1964) and raised in Tasmania and has written 4 novels and 3 books for older children over her 20 year writing career. Each novel in format and genre is a radical departure from its predecessor. I very much enjoyed The Butterfly
Man (2005), winner of the Davitt Award for best crime fiction novel by an Australian woman in 2006. The River Wife (2009) is another complete breakaway – a modern adult fairytale. Each work though shares themes, preoccupations and techniques and
shows a confidence and willingness to take risks. I look forward to whatever direction her next work will take.
Ratings: Claudia 2.5, Gail 4, Janet 3, Judith 3.5, Kim 3, Margie 3, Michael 3.5, Nicola 4 and Viv 3.5.
Next month we will meet on the 14/8 at 6:30PM at Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops) to continue with this years’ list of Australian books. The book to be discussed will be The Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd, winner of the 2017 Stella Prize for women’s writing.
Hope to see you all there and happy reading!
We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.
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