The Forgery of Venus
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The Forgery of Venus

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,736 ratings  ·  334 reviews
An artist born outside his time, Chaz Wilmot can paint like Leonardo, Goya, Gainsborough—and he refuses to shape his talent to fit the fashion of the day. His unique abilities attract the attention of Werner Krebs, an art dealer with a dark past and shadier present, and soon Wilmot is working with a fervor he hasn't felt in years. But his creative burst is accompanied by s...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2008)
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Book Review

The Forgery of Venus represents Michael Gruber's fictitious foray into the world of representational art, aesthetics, forgeries, galleries, and art criticism. Meet Chaz Wilmont, an artist and our narrator within a narrator, the vehicle - a lemon - through which Gruber delivers his novel. Chaz speaks to you, the actual narrator, in the first person, through a series of sound files he recorded onto CD for you to listen to; and as with a lot of second-hand vehicles he breaks down often.

Thanks to Judy Wisdomkeeper's comment on Goodreads for recommending this book. Gruber's writing style has a voice, and right away that puts him at the top of my list. Besides the plotting, which goes back and forth in time in ways I've never experienced in a book, The Forgery of Venus fascinates in two other ways - its meticulous description of painting technique and its depiction of mental illness. Peter Carey's Theft, which I also enjoyed, also has these two elements. The neurological issues a...more
Oh how I love Michael Gruber.

Here's a man who never writes the same book twice. The first of his I read was The Witch's Boy, a modern fairy tale.

Then I read Tropic of Night, which has mainly to do with voodoo in Miami (I'm leaving out a lot of important details, but it was excellent).

And then I moved on to The Book of Air and Shadows, which is a "literary thriller," meaning that it's a thriller that centers around books, one of my very favorite genres.

And now The Forgery of Venus, which has to d...more
This was a pretty good book. One that I didn't hold out to big of expectations for to be honest. In the hands of someone else this book could have been very dry and boring because in my opinion the actual story wasn't that great until almost the end, but it was neither. The writing and characters kept me going, especially Chaz. Even though he was a batshit crazy, snotty artist he was likable and him as narrator was great. The details about art in general were bordering on pretentious, but were m...more
I really like the way Gruber writes. I like his use of language, his rhythms, his pacing, his words. His characters live, too. Here, they're similar to the characters in his first book, but that's fine, since they're fun. In this book, he has some really lovely moments where character changes occurr subtly and effectively. He writes about art-related topics with sensitivity. His endings are a little over the top for me...his writing is good enough that he doesn't need all the fuss at the end. Bu...more
Rather than give a complete summary of this book, it would would be preferable to comment on several points. It is positively essential for the reader to suspend many previous held beliefs while reading this complex tale because it has the appearance of being a supernatural fantasy. Yet, perhaps it is. The reader is guided through a maze of elaborate, yet wondrous experiences. Is Chaz, the protagonist, actually experiencing these time travel events? Is he psychotic? Are the amazing events, so vi...more
May 25, 2012 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like intelligent thrillers

Sometimes you just want to read at a fast pace and not have to think too deeply. Especially if like me, you don't watch TV. Don't get me wrong. Michael Gruber can actually write. He falls into a category of thriller author who is a step or more above the David Baldaaci crowd, plus his subject matter tends toward the cultural: Shakespeare and rare books in The Book of Air and Shadows; painting in The Forgery of Venus.

Painter Chaz Wilmot is the tortured genius type. I always enjoy reading about a...more
Ben Babcock
Although it contains a promising theme, The Forgery of Venus lacks a compelling story. Its characters are largely shallow and uninteresting; its plot is overly-complicated; the pacing suffers from an overabundance of exposition. While I'm sure Gruber had the best of intentions, his poor technical execution leaves much to be desired. Ultimately, I found The Forgery of Venus unsatisfactory.

For reasons that later become clear (unreliable narrator), Gruber chooses to wrap the story in a frame narrat...more
Jul 12, 2008 Nadine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who prefer a literary style
Shelves: mysteries
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eileen Phillips
Feb 29, 2008 Eileen Phillips rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love art forgery as much as i do
I cannot even describe how much I love art forgery. I don't know why. I don't know what it is, but art forgery fascinates me. Which is weird because unoriginality, copycatting, clones of society, all that crap pisses me off. But there's just something about...the lengths people go to, the imitation of something so great that someone would rather try to recreate it than even bother to attempt to create something better of their own, the...homage of it. It just excites my emotions. Anyway! This bo...more
I started recommending this book before I had even finished it. The main character is an artist who takes a roller coaster emotional and psychological ride to the very end of the book. Gruber makes you wonder as the story progresses whether his artist is someone born outside of their time or living in a world of his own creation. Interesting mix of stories from different times historically and action to build a plot. I will read some of Gruber’s previous books now.
Jonah Gibson
Another smart and engaging charmer from Michael Gruber. I don't know anyone else who can craft a page turner from a narrative where not very much happens . . . and yet life as we know it seems to hang in the balance. I notice that a fair number of readers just don't get Gruber. If you've stunted your intellectual growth reading urban fantasy and what passes for romance these days, you're probably not going to appreciate the effort Gruber requires. If on the other hand you still have enough funct...more
Sep 18, 2008 Armand rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers, Europe lovers, people who read books to think deep thoughts.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Bittner
I must confess, I come to this review with a heavy heart. Blurbs on the dust jacket were unanimously positive. Moreover, The Forgery of Venus was recommended to me by a fellow poet whose work I quite respect. Her accolades were ample. I, unfortunately, don’t share them.

Let me say from the outset that Michael Gruber’s prose is quite respectable — in most instances. However, his editing skills leave a lot to be desired. Whether it’s the result of drugs, alcohol, weariness or indifference, I can’t...more
I’ve read a few different books on art forgery in the last few years, most memorably Dolnick’s The Forger’s Spell. I enjoy combining learning more about art and art history with how high stakes crimes in this area have operated in the past, and how they (I assume) continue to endure in the present. I know that technology regularly offers advancements in spotting the fakes, but I’d suspect that it also regularly offers criminal minds – particularly the more creative ones – ways to circumvent thos...more
Eva Mitnick
This could almost be considered a fantasy - or maybe it really is a bona fide fantasy. After all, an immensely talented artist (who refuses to truckle to the masses or pander to art critics or basically do anything but be true to himself - but he doesn't know who he is) keeps having extremely realistic fantasies that he is Velasquez (the famous Spanish painter of yore), to the point that he knows details of V.'s life that he couldn't possibly know unless he really was experiencing some kind of w...more
This guy knows his stuff! Love the book.
"...a painter ...who when they asked him what he was painting, used to say, 'Whatever it may turn out'; and if he chanced to paint a cock he would write under it, 'This is a cock,' for fear they might think it was a fox." --Miguel de Cervantes, 'Don Quixote'
"He said it was the best commentary he knew about the kind of art they were showing in New York in the eighties, and he used to drag me to galleries back then and wander through the bright chattering cr...more
Picked up this as an audio book thinking the title sounded interesting. This book was hard to stay with to the point of I just couldn't put myself through the last two discs. Very confusing at the beginning as to which character is telling the story. When "Chaz" goes from one time period to the next, it is easy to understand, but the story drones on and on about various artists and painting styles. As a person who doesn't know the various artists, I had no understanding if I should be impressed...more
I've read a couple of Michael Gruber books and I'm a fan. Will look for others now too. This one involves some time travelling (so did another book I read recently, but I'm sure that's a coincidence and not an effort on my part to seek out time travellers!), but this time the main character, a conflicted artist struggling with his feelings of inadequacy, doesn't go back in time to relive his own life, but rather he lives the life of a famous artist in the past. Naturally, he brings the skills he...more
Meg Meltz
I enjoyed every page of this book. I've liked all of Michael Gruber's novels.
Chaz is a potentially wonderful artist if he'd only allow himself to do the paintings he's capable if doing instead of ads and magazine covers. Then because of a "creativity" drug he finds himself temporarily becoming the Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. Is this sci fi? Is this fantasy? Or is Chaz genuinely crazy?
Gruber's writing immediately sucks me in and I can't wait to find out what is going to happen.
What was gr...more
I really liked this book for reasons that had little to do with the plot and much to do with the nature of art and what is now acclaimed as art. The narrator, Chaz Wilmot, is highly unreliable...but he sends his story to his conservative college friend, who listens and shares with us Chaz' recordings of his experience. Plot summary: Chaz Wilmot, an artist of great talent who has the kind of talent exhibited by the great masters, a father an illustrator who Chaz felt never lived up to his talent,...more
Hmm...this one is tough. I couldn't tell you what genre this book falls into. At times captivating and interesting, if you are familiar with artists of the 1600's, and at other times flat. I ended up scanning through to get to the end. However, I must add that Michael Gruber is a talented writer and I will definitely read another of his books.
May 20, 2008 Lesa rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like art, drugs and Dan Brown
This book started out like a house afire, petered out toward the middle and ended up a right slog to the end. Full of twists, but either not enough or just not believeable - or maybe I just never liked the whiny protaganist who seemed to need a good slap. It felt like reading a Reader's Digest Condensed version of the novel that could have been.
Bookmarks Magazine

Although critics still make the inevitable and easy comparisons to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, any time a book comes out in the burgeoning genre of the "literary thriller," Gruber

Julie M
Great novel! Combines interesting perspectives on the process of painting, time travel, psychology, and a bit of mystery/crime. Loved it.
I love books that explore Art: creation, history of, art theory and this was great in that respect.
I was a bit disappointed. It had some merits, but the story got bogged down after a while.
Very cool ideas. Weirdly done.
Sometimes you finish a book and want to go back to the beginning and start again. That was the case with this book, but it isn't exactly a good thing. I was so confused by the complicated plot that I had to read the introductory chapter again, because it set up the flashback tale. After reading the other reviews, I'm not sure I read the same book. Maybe I do need to read the whole thing again. It's beautiful prose, with an interesting concept and well-researched art history, but usually I'm not...more

A brilliant book, or rather a book with a brilliant concept that sometimes lagged in the narrative details of the story surrounding it, but necessary in a novel that tells a story. Otherwise, well, you’d have an extended historical art study, and who would want to read that except for a few scholars? What was really missing, though, was a full page illustration of Velazquaz' THE ROKEBY VENUS, as well as some other famous nude paintings that are mentioned in the novel. Granted, there is a muddy...more
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Michael Gruber is an author living in Seattle, Washington. He attended Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami. He worked as a cook, a marine biologist, a speech writer, a policy advisor for the Jimmy Carter White House, and a bureaucrat for the EPA before becoming a novelist.

He is generally acknowledged to be the ghostwriter of the popular Robert K. Tane...more
More about Michael Gruber...
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