Publisher: Nouvella. March 22, 2016.
Genre: Literary fiction
ADD TO GOODREADS
BUY FROM NOUVELLA
BUY FROM BOOK DEPOSITORY
Renowned installation artist Frank Poole has embarked on his most ambitious project to date: an entire housing subdivision in the desert of Nevada, with every element painted stark white. By his side is his young wife Caitlin, his manager and confidante who keeps the volatile artist functioning from day to day. But as Frank grows increasingly anxious about his undertaking, Caitlin learns she is pregnant and begins to wonder what the future might hold for them both. -Goodreads
Let us be clear.
The time you spend reading these words
will not be returned.
Can we give a shout out to the best opening lines ever written? Luckily, the rest of this novella is about as bold as those first two sentences that confront you before the story begins. I was at first startled by the format of this delightfully sized little book, but soon came to fall in love with it. The whole thing is like a transcript of a documentary. Sort of. It's a transcript of a documentary, and yet it doesn't feel dry. It's lyrical, though sparsely written. Kiefer's writing first impressed me in The Animals and it didn't fail to impress me here. Every once in a while, the book references you as the viewer, or one of the characters looks at you/the camera. I wholly felt as if I were watching humans the entire time, so this experimental format was a success.
The story was at once intriguing. An artist, Frank Poole, who creates huge installations (like a replica of a Starbucks in a strip mall that is forever locked) begins work on his largest-scale project yet. In this project, he attempts to capture perfect moments in time through creating an entire, completely and perpetually sealed off neighborhood in the middle of the desert; all painted white.
As his project gets more difficult and unwieldy, we learn more about Frank and his dysfunctional childhood through interview. We also learn more about his young wife and manager, Caitlin, who gave up her own artistic dreams and is now pregnant. The experimental format and Kiefer's beautiful writing lend to some really visual scenes that show us important things about their relationship and Frank's worsening struggle with his project and life.
The novella is chock-full of poignant vignettes and bits of dialogue, but I'm still unsure about the ending. I actually ended up rereading most of the book to see if I was missing something. I liked it, but it felt a little too easy. I would love to hear what anybody else thought of it.
Overall, this is a good pick for the Weirdathon if you're looking for an experimental format. It's easily a book you can finish in one sitting.
P. S. The book cover is beautiful and you can only see the title at very specific angles, making it frustrating to photograph, but a delight to hold and look at.