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Feast Your Eyes

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,574 ratings  ·  380 reviews
The first novel in nearly a decade from Myla Goldberg, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season—a compelling and wholly original story about a female photographer grappling with ambition and motherhood, a balancing act familiar to women of every generation.

Feast Your Eyes, framed as the catalogue notes from a photography show at the Museum of Mode
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Scribner
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader by: Cheri
Myla Goldberg, you are writing genius. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Feast Your Eyes is the story of photographer and mother, Lillian Preston.

Lillian connects to photography in high school when she participates in photo club. Her parents have expectations that she’ll attend college and get married as women do in the 1950s. Instead, Lillian moves to New York City to pursue her photography dreams.

A small gallery displays semi-nude photos of Lillian and her young daughter, Samantha, which ends in Lillian being
...more
Elyse  Walters
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SO DARN ***GOOD***, I CANT STAND IT!!!

My God..... when it ended, I kept saying no, no no no no no!!!! I actually cried.

When I first started this book I was a little confused and I wasn’t feeling emotional connection.
Then..... it started to get interesting.....
Then a little more interesting.....
THEN ****MORE**** interesting....

It’s been awhile since NOT WANTING A BOOK TO END ....
I went from thinking this book was ok .., to passionately loving it. I miss connecting with the story of these chara
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Cheri
”Just as I was beginning to worry that waiting was all there would ever be, I picked up a camera – but you know this already. You’re the only one who understands when I say that making pictures makes me fully and truly myself.”

Lillian’s love of photography began through her high school photo club, and her love led to a desire to pursue her passion, hoping that one day she would be working as a photographer for a magazine or newspaper. Shortly after her graduation, she forgoes her parents’ plans
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Michael Finocchiaro
i truly appreciated how Myra Goldberg wove a story out of this idea of an exhibition catalog of a female photographer and her daughter. Touching, painful, but beautiful like the black and white photos that Lillian dedicated her life to despite the heavy cost: the price for Lilly’s immense talent was an immense loneliness that I would never have to know. (p. 30)

Due to a particular series of raw photos of Lillian and her daughter that were exposed at the Lacan Gallery and titled for the daughter (
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Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“Time after time my mother traded privacy, square footage, countertops, and a decent bathroom for darkroom space.”


While the way in which Feast Your Eyes is framed makes for an undoubtedly interesting technique (telling the story of a fictional photographer Lillian Preston through the catalogue notes for an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Modern Art) Myla Goldberg's execution left me wanting more (out of her story, her characters, and her style).

The novel’s catalogue structu
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Drew
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this. A story of photography, of New York, of art, of mothers and daughters, of love and time. Goldberg's structure is a joy, and I thrilled to imagine each of the 118 photographs -- but to also see the exploration of Lillian Preston as a person, as told through her own writings and the thoughts of others. It doesn't feel entirely like a traditional gallery guide, but maybe gallery guides ought to feel more like this than they currently do, you know?
Ms.pegasus
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: selection of local book club
Shelves: fiction
FEAST YOUR EYES, Myla Goldberg

As I read this book the possibility that I was applying a double standard confronted me. Would I have had different reactions if Lillian Preston had been a man? At first, the question might seem incongruous. Key events include an agonizing illegal abortion, the painful estrangement from Lillian's conventional Methodist parents over her position as an unwed mother, and a troubled mother-daughter relationship that is never resolved.

I discovered, however, that I did h
...more
Robert Sheard
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the a story of a photographer and her daughter. But the form is unique. It's 13 years after the photographer's death and there's a retrospective show of her work. The novel is the catalog for that show's 118 photographs. The catalog is written by her daughter and includes excerpts from the photographer's journal (written to her daughter), and interviews with other significant figures from the photographer's life.

What develops (see what I did there?) is a powerful portrait (oops, did it
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Lolly K Dandeneau
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
'Just as I was beginning to worry that waiting was all there would ever be, I picked up a camera- but you know this already.'

Myla Goldberg states in her acknowledgements that she was inspired by the life and work of people like Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, and Harold Feinstein (just to name a few) and it certainly shows in the creation of her fictional character, Lillian Preston. This novel is beautiful, we are able to feast our own eyes on subject
...more
Robert Blumenthal
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five huge stars from me for this one. After finishing this wonderful novel, I asked how could I possibly not have heard of Myla Goldberg before--especially since one of her previous novels got turned into a film starring Richard Gere. Apparently, this novel came ten years after her previous one (no Joyce Carol Oates, this one), and she hit it out of the park as far as I'm concerned.

It is an unusual format. It is written as a catalog of the works of a photographer named Lillian, assembled by her
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Ella
This book only came to my attention when the 2019 finalists for the National Book Critics Circle were announced. (Winners will be announced in March.) Alongside it are quite a few books that have gotten a ton of press, all of which I'd read and liked. This one had flown under my radar, so I'm really thrilled that it was chosen or I might have missed a book that I think is probably one of the best I've read in a long while.

It's an interesting book: set up to read like an art show catalog, apparen
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Deborah
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In her latest novel, Goldberg tries something new: writing the entire book in the form of a photography exhibition catalog--yet we never see a single photograph. The gallery number, title, and date of each photo appear, followed by commentary by the artist's daughter, friends and ex-lovers, and letters and journal entries written by the artist herself. The works range from the 1950s, when Lillian Preston rejects her parents' plan for her college education and moves to New York to pursue her pass ...more
Diane Yannick
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book, even more than 5 stars shows. The author tells the story through museum catalogs, letters and journal entries, gradually unpeeling the many story layers. I enjoyed picturing the art work described in the catalogs. The photo “Mommy is Sick” allows the reader to think about artistic obscenity now and 50 years ago. Where is that line that horrifies? Is it more a reflection of our own discomfort or is there truly a line for each generation? Street photography, especiall ...more
Lynne
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read book for anyone remotely interested in photographic art! Especially women. This is a wonderfully presented book about the life of an artist. Her passion drives her life. The camera is an appendage of her as is the dark room. We see the impact of the times (1950-1970’s) and their impact on culture. Having recently visited the MOMA, it was especially meaningful for me.
Claire Fuller
First book finished in 2020. This is an interesting one. I loved the subject matter: Lillian, a photographer, grapples with her art and motherhood through the 50s, 60s, and 70s. She takes a series of semi-naked photos of her and her daughter, Samantha, and when they are exhibited she is arrested for obscenity. The notoriety that follows changes both mother's and daughter's lives in many far-reaching ways. The book is written using the structure of an exhibition catalogue, listing the (unseen) ph ...more
Sam
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Myra Goldberg's technical execution in this novel is almost perfect.
Goldberg freely acknowledges the source of the structure as Steven Millhauser's Catalogue of the Exhibition: The Art of Edmund Moorash (1810-1846) from Little Kingdoms. Goldberg varies from that work by having the subject a deceased female photographer with her 1950's-1960's story told though letters and journal entries of the photographer, comments from people who were her friends, and reminiscences of her daughter, a young sub
...more
sarah
May 28th, 2020: was in need of a book that would ground me so I decided to do my first reread of this masterpiece, and it hit just as hard the second time. it is still genuinely shocking to me that this is a work of fiction and that Lillian and Samantha aren't real people- that is how real and extraordinary this storytelling is. uGH

September 9th 2019: this book gets 10 stars from me *chefs kiss*
Andrea
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read The Bee Season long ago and eagerly anticipated this book. 4.5 but rounding up. A truly impactful book.--sometimes difficult to read because it was so full of raw emotion.

A story of dysfunction, photography, mothers and daughters, relationships, and more. Social mores and social change. The '60s and '70s; this book is chock full of everything.

Written as a catalogue [but so much more] of the late Lillian/Lilly Preston's photographs by her daughter, Samantha/Jane, with intervening dialogue fr
...more
Judy
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A compelling story of a photographer, Lilly, as told through her journal entries and letters, interviews with her friends, and her daughter Samantha's memories and are interspersed with a catalog with descriptions of her work for an art exhibit. Both Lillian's and Samantha's lives were shaped to an extent by a series of eight highly controversial photos taken by Lilly of Samantha as a young child. The book speaks to the times in that it shows the inequality of men and women, the struggles of a s ...more
Marcy
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 - This to me was a sad story of missed cues and opportunities between a mother and daughter who desperately needed each other’s love and couldn’t seem to connect. The format used to relate the story was a great way to make what would have been a slow story move along and add depth to the characters. At times I felt claustrophobic with the obsessive behaviors of Lilly and couldn’t imagine living with that. I loved the time period of the 60’ and 70’s and thought she did a really good job repre ...more
Stephanie (aka WW)
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
What’s striking about this book is the way it is structured. To tell the story of photographer Lillian Preston, Myla Goldberg “presents” 118 photographs, and organizes journals, letters and prose around these photographs. At first, I wasn’t sure it worked. I didn’t feel I was getting the depth I wanted out of the story. But I hung in there, and eventually appreciated the form. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book earns its share of awards.
Sharon Mensing
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is brilliant! Lillian Preston is a photographer during the 1960's and 70's, and Samantha is both her daughter and the subject of a series of highly controversial photos. The book is told from Samantha's perspective after Lillian's death, in an epistolary manner. Most of the book is framed as a catalogue for a MOMA show of Lillian's work, with each piece titled, dated, and interpreted. Additional exposition is contained in Lillian's diary entries, letters to a life-long friend, and othe ...more
Melissa Dee
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. I was dubious about the conceit of writing the novel in the form of a museum catalogue, but Goldberg handled this so well. In my memory, I see the photos she described as if they were part of the novel itself. From the annotations of Lillian’s journal, her daughter’s interviews with roommates, parents and lovers, and the daughter’s own memories, we come to know so many facets of the woman as she developed over time.

"Some mornings I’m so heavy with dread I can hardly move.
...more
Alena
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is very much a mother-daughter book filled with angst and fierce loyalty and disappointing betrayals and guilty regret. But that wouldn’t be enough for 5 stars. Set in the 1950’s and 60’s, Goldberg tackles issues of art, race, censorship and abortion,without ever beating readers over the head with lessons. They are simply the historically rich background to these spectacular women’s lives. And still, that might not be enough for 5 stars.

What elevates this engrossing and surprisingly brillia
...more
Diane Payne
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of the novel, there's an explanation describing how the book came about, but it didn't feel like a preface, but an actual part of the novel, a part that seemed unnecessary now that I have finished the novel. The setup of the novel is an interesting way to show the life of a photographer during the 60's and 70's, and her relationship with her daughter, which became controversial after a collection of photos were deemed obscene. Interesting read.
Beth
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away. Incredible. Best book that I have read in years. It is work. This is not a quick easy page turner that entrances you along. My brain had to work with the descriptions, no not even your brain but your heart with each page. You have to imagine each description. Yes some parts tedious. Yes one part contrived. But the powerful emotions hit me hard. This book made me realize that reading has been one of the best parts of my life. Thank u A.
Margie
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, art
Rounding up to 4 stars. The characters are fully realized and memorable in this relentlessly sad story. The structure is unique and worked for the most part, but at points I found it tiresome. I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first, which moved forward slowly.
Joann Amidon
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are many layers to this story, two of which I would like to comment on. First, the high price some artists will pay to be faithful to their art and practice it. Lillian chose art over all else. For that some in her life were faced with having to forgive her or not which is the second issue. How do you forgive someone so single minded? Must you forgive someone so single minded? These two issues will rumble around in my mind for sometime but in the meantime, I found the writing to be excelle ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Possibly my favorite book of the year so far. Written in the form as a catalog for an exhibition of photographs by fictional photographer Lillian Preston, interspersed with journal entries and interviews that fill in the blanks, the story begins to appear just as if you are immersing photographic paper in developing solution. You find the story faintly, then as it begins to "develop" the story becomes much clearer. The question remains--is the finished product a clear image or is it blurred with ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library
Lillian Preston was a photographer who achieved more notoriety than fame in her life. She was a street photographer, taking pictures of people in unguarded moments. This novel is set up as the text from the exhibition book for a retrospective of her work at MoMA. So there's a forward by the singer from a punk band from the seventies that took inspiration and a name from the photograph that caused Lillian's notoriety and the catalog text is largely by her daughter, who was the subject of some of ...more
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Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy, and The False Friendas well as a children's book, Catching the Moon.

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