Kirsten's Reviews > How to Paint a Dead Man

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
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's review
Nov 20, 2011

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Read from November 09 to 19, 2011

I read this for book club and as is often the case with a book club book, it was not a page turner (when will we do a Monica McInerney??). But as is also often the case, it was a nourishing read, notwithstanding the off putting grimy components of the various plots. It centres on four characters, Giorgio, a painter in the 60s nearing the end of his life; Annette, a blind girl who has some lovely moments with Giorgia; Peter, who paints cliff faces and then gets stuck in one, also has a nice relationship with Giorgio; and Suze, an adult who's twin has just died. I think the themes centre on identity in trying circumstances but hard to really say (perhaps all will be revealed at book club).

One chapter ends with some nice thoughts on solitude. Loved p 16.

"Of all the conditions we experience, solitude is perhaps the most misunderstood. To choose it is regarded as irresponsible or a failure. To most it should be avoided, like an illness. Inside solitude people see the many compartments of unhappiness, like the comb of a pomegranate. To be emptied from the world, to be cast away and forgotten – is this what we fear most? So we must shake hands and pass money and hear talk of our families and our selves. We must move in and out of doors, press buttons for lifts….

But if is embraced solitude is the most joyful of commitments. In the grace of these quite rooms I know far better the taste of each day. How well I know life. I understand water in its glass…

I am not lonely, but receiving such a letter [from Peter] reminds me of the other souls in this world whom I might have liked to meet."

Ah Giorgio, loved him. Meanwhile Suze, what were you thinking???

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