Chris, we love your f&ckD-UP-ED-NESS. That's why we read you. Your vampire trilogy, your Lust Lizard, your alien Whales, that's why we love you. TChris, we love your f&ckD-UP-ED-NESS. That's why we read you. Your vampire trilogy, your Lust Lizard, your alien Whales, that's why we love you. This latest venture into historical fiction just doesn't ring as true to you. While this book is most definitely f&ckD-up, it lacks your creative genius--it is too hampered by fact. I feel like you wrote this book sotally tober, and I am disappointed in you for that.
This book is roughly about the color blue, the sacred blue used to paint the Virgin's robes in religious works from the middle ages onward. The term "sacre bleu" refers to the heavens, to the sacred, and is therefore also a curse word. Moore follows Vincent Van Gogh's last mad, suicidal moments and asks the question, "What kind of man commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest and then walking over a mile to a doctor's house to seek medical treatment?" Suspicious? Moore was, and thus this book. Moore follows Toulouse-Lautrec as he waddles/limps all over Pigalle, spending his youth in brothels and his mid-days with a baker/painter friend who aspires to artistic endeavors of which his family disapproves. The two together stumble upon the secret to the color ultramarine, the sacre bleu, and the disturbing trend of many of their artist friends succumbing to the madness of syphilis. The two phenomena are related. That's very Moore for you.
Toulouse-Lautrec is already a Moore character, by all popular accounts: a drunk, a debaucher, a lover of women and wine and weirdness. But the other characters are so boring because Moore is trying so hard to use real people and the research he's done to write the book. He does a lovely muse character, Bleu herself, and her twisted master, The Colorman. But the other real people muddy the water. The pacing is slow; I found myself wandering over to coming attractions.
The book is beautifully printed; Moore has been so successful he was able to convince his publisher to go to the expense of printing the text in a deep purple instead of black and there are color reproductions of much of the art discussed in the book. I really appreciate those features. But I wish Moore had been a little less pedantic and a little more...inebriated? while composing this one. Still, I give it 4 stars because there are laugh-out-loud moments only Moore could give. And that's worth quite a bit, at any rate. ...more
Just fantastic. I grew up in a South of prim and proper, of clean tablecloths and girls who crossed their white-socked ankles. McCorkle does a good joJust fantastic. I grew up in a South of prim and proper, of clean tablecloths and girls who crossed their white-socked ankles. McCorkle does a good job of transporting me back to my South, the same exact era, but she shows what was going on under that clean tablecloth--girls in those same white socks were playing footsie under there with a boy who had gotten a peek at their underthings reflected in the toes of their perfectly shiny patent-leather shoes. That's the reality I didn't know. It's a book filled with sex and frustration, a juicy murder, and enough characters who are real characters to people a large graveyard. McCorkle's use of multiple voices is seamless-she's as adept at that as Barbara Kingsolver in The Poisonwood Bible, my favorite multiple P.O.V. novel. And the device of the voyeur postman who reads dead letters (and files them away) is nice; that appearances and secret thing again. It's a satisfying, toothsome read. ...more
Another Lee Smith. I find myself missing her voice when I'm not reading one of her books. Smith follows a family of snake handlers this time. For thosAnother Lee Smith. I find myself missing her voice when I'm not reading one of her books. Smith follows a family of snake handlers this time. For those of you who aren't from these hills, I'll tell you: snake handlers are holy rollers, people on the fringe of a Christianity that has no room for ambiguities. An interview in the back of this book shows us what Smith was thinking; she says this book really explores the vulnerability of children and how they have absolutely no control over what happens to them. This is a theme usually explored via parents who drink too much, or let their kids see them doing drugs, or worse. This time we follow a girl named Florida Grace. She is the daughter of a man who is called to do God's work, a man who puts his whole faith and the fate of his family utterly in God's hand, never working, never planning for tomorrow, saying the Lord will provide. They are often hungry and homeless. When her father does find a place to preach, he gets out his serpents, takes up "the signs" and dares them to bite. He tells the congregation the Lord will protect him from the rattlers and copperheads he handles. When he is bitten, he says, "Praise God!" and says it is God's will. That's snake handling for you.
Our narrator goes from a holiness family where makeup and bathing suits are prohibited (even in the 1950's--they still are today, for those women) to a life following more earthly pursuits. I loved the voice, the descriptions of bucolic mountains and harsh roadside motels. Smith's character unravels in a most disturbing way at the end...Loved that part the most.