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The Great Man by Kate Christensen
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The Great Man (2007)

by Kate Christensen

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A rare and refreshing novel featuring vivid, well-drawn characters in their 70s & 80s.
An engaging page-turner, sharply rendered. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
I loved Kate Christensen's The Great Man, a graceful, smart and character-driven novel set in motion by the death of a renowned artist. The characters are the great man's widow and autistic son, his paramour (and mother of his two daughters), his sister (and fellow stellar artist), and others whose lifelong orbits around the titular character begin to decay rapidly away from the weaker gravity of his memory. In the resulting chaos there are collisions and near-misses and certainly damage is done. But when a dark secret about one of The Great Man's most famous works is revealed, it sparks a realignment of those other bodies into a new configuration that just might work. Spot-on dialogue, wonderful sense of place, lovely insights into what makes human life so interesting. ( )
  jimnicol | Feb 21, 2017 |
Really good fun. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Kate Christensen is a very thorough writer, and fills each character with a plethora of good and bad qualities. This book was fantastic, and I highly recommend this and the Epicure's Lament (I've been unable to find any of her other books at the library, sadly.) ( )
  arpentec | Nov 27, 2015 |
The title is deceptive, or at best ironic., because it's all about the women.

The "great man" is dead, and the women with whom he was involved- mostly his wife, his mistress, and his sister- are (with the help of 2 aspiring biographers) working out his legacy- both public and private.

It was a fascinating look into both the modern art world, and into the ways we women navigate and explain our lives- and how we can re-interpret, at least occasionally.

The image we gather of the "great man" ends up being pretty nuanced; some of his flaws are widely known, and some more private, but many come to kight. He does seem like a fairly awful human being... but for some reason, he was able to attract the respect and attention of some very fine women, and it was fascinating to see how they moved on once he and his charisma were out of the picture.

This is not the sort of novel I usually read, but it was pretty gripping. Somewhat recommended, because although well-written, it was not so much to my taste. ( )
  cissa | Aug 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Perhaps being old is having lightened rooms
Inside your head, and people in them, acting
People you know, yet can't quite name; each looms
Like a deep loss restored, from known doors turning,
Setting down a lamp, smiling from a stair, extracting
A known book from the shelves; or sometimes only
The rooms themselves, chairs and a fire burning,
The blown bush at the window, or the sun's
Faint friendliness on the wall some lonely
Rain-ceased midsummer evening. There is where they live:
Not hear and now, but where all happened once.

- Philip Larkin, "The Old Fools"
Dedication
For Lizzie
First words
"It's amazing how well you can live on very little money," said Teddy St. Cloud to Henry Burke over her shoulder as she strode into the kitchen of her Brooklyn row house.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Book description
Oscar Feldman, the renowned figurative painter, has passed away. As his obituary notes, Oscar is survived by his wife, Abigail, their son, Ethan, and his sister, the well-known abstract painter Maxine Feldman. What the obituary does not note, however, is that Oscar is also survived by his longtime mistress, Teddy St. Cloud, and their daughters.

As two biographers interview the women in an attempt to set the record straight, the open secret of his affair reaches a boiling point and a devastating skeleton threatens to come to light. From the acclaimed author of The Epicure's Lament, a scintillating novel of secrets, love, and legacy in the New York art world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307277348, Paperback)

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Oscar Feldman, the renowned figurative painter, has passed away. As his obituary notes, Oscar is survived by his wife, Abigail, their son, Ethan, and his sister, the well-known abstract painter Maxine Feldman. What the obituary does not note, however, is that Oscar is also survived by his longtime mistress, Teddy St. Cloud, and their daughters.

As two biographers interview the women in an attempt to set the record straight, the open secret of his affair reaches a boiling point and a devastating skeleton threatens to come to light. From the acclaimed author of The Epicure's Lament, a scintillating novel of secrets, love, and legacy in the New York art world.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Following the death of New York City painter Oscar Feldman, an artist known for his paintings of the female nude, two rival biographers compete and collide as they set out to tell his life story, with the help of his wife Abigail, sister Maxine, and Teddy, his longtime mistress, in a satirical novel of literary rivalry.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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