Kirsten's Reviews > The Great Man

The Great Man by Kate Christensen
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's review
Dec 27, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2009, xx-chromosome
Recommended for: those interested in the contemporary art world.
Read in January, 2009

Do you know who your grandmother's sleeping with?

Refreshingly, Christensen's book gives us four very sympathetic female characters over the age of 70 who, in traditional views of the life a "great man" (in this case, a fictionalized artist named Oscar Feldman), would be marginalized as muse/mistress/wife/sister, but instead come fully, and vibrantly to life. Which is quite clearly the point.

The dialogue is witty, and the partnerships forged in the art world, and in romantic life, are well-observed and interesting. I especially liked a portion where Maxine Feldman, the "great" artist's sister and fellow painter, reflects on how balancing art and life is like being torn between two different rooms: one is always feeling pulled by the other and worried about not succeeding in it.

Reading this book made me want to be a cool, opinionated, and sassy old lady someday. It also made me really hungry and wish that I knew what kielbasa sausage was so I could eat it. Dispelling the cliche of the fusty and irrelevant old grandma that is all too often the perception in fiction, and life, I felt sheepish at the way we tend to fixate on the young and all-to-easily discard the opinions of parents and grandparents.

I noticed that some other reviewers found some odd racial undertones in the novel, and I noticed them, too. I still haven't decided what the author's intentions might have been. There was also a sex scene near the end that seemed to deny logic and physics, but I digress. Read this if you want something entertaining, quick, and still brainy.
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04/24 marked as: read

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