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304 pages, Hardcover
First published October 3, 2016
She looks out of the canvas in an oblique but self-aware and penetrating manner that some art historians have described as unnerving. Joanna Woods-Marsden remarks that a sitter acknowledging her audience in this way was virtually unprecedented even in Italian portrait painting. Her acknowledgment is accentuated by the painting's crop, which focuses the viewer's gaze in a near-invasive manner that seems to question the relationship between artist, model, patron and viewer.
Not since reading W. G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn” have I been so taken with a demonstration of the storytelling confluence of fiction and nonfiction. I say 'confluence' because Stefan Hertmans, like Sebald, is interested in the places where narrative authority, invention and speculation flow together. War and Turpentine affords the sensory pleasures of a good novel while also conveying the restlessness of memoir through its probing, uncertain narrator, who raids the family pantry in search of existential meaning. (Stefan Hertmans' website, quoted on the Home page)