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The Matisse Stories by A. S. Byatt
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The Matisse Stories (1993)

by A. S. Byatt

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9621612,894 (3.64)38
  1. 00
    Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting by Siri Hustvedt (JuliaMaria)
  2. 01
    The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: The stories "A Short History of Hairdressing" (Barnes) and "Medusa'a Ankles" (Byatt) both refer to a client at a hairdresser's - one male, one female.
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» See also 38 mentions

English (15)  Italian (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
These were not stories about Matisse but about several of his paintings and how they evoke certain feelings, emotions and reactions from the characters in each story.
I felt they were of uneven quality:
"Medusa's ankles: a woman has her hair done in an exclusive salon wherein hangs one of Matisse 's paintings, "The pink nude", which is a focal point of the décor. Then we see the woman's extreme reaction to the dull, lifeless renovation of the shop and the owner's reaction to her actions. 3 stars
"Art work": From a great description of "Silence lives in houses" the author presents an artistic family and their unusual housekeeper, who turns out to be more than what she seems. This was easily my favorite. 4 stars
"The Chinese lobster": Discussion between a Dean and Professor in a Chinese restaurant over lunch about a graduate student and about Matisse, the subject of the student's work. 2 stars

Strong points were Byatt's vivid descriptions and her spot-on banal dialogue. I had to read these as I love Matisse's work. ( )
  janerawoof | Sep 2, 2017 |
Three stories; a favorite author, a favorite artist. AS Byatt pulled me in for each one, but let me go too soon, which is why I am not a short story fan. Now I have to go and look at a book of Matisse's paintings to satisfy my longing. ( )
  bookczuk | Aug 22, 2017 |
Byatt has become one of my favorite authors, ever since reading The Children’s Book and Possession. While her style is distinctly her own, it somehow reminds me of George Eliot, another of my favorite authors. Byatt’s care in examining human motivations within social contexts is profound. Her characters have rich internal lives, often kept highly private, and live in a world resplendent with crafted artistry.

Byatt’s backgrounds are full of beads, cups, cloths, paintings, texts that burst with colors: salmon pink, turquoise, ruby red. Dishes are hand-painted with tiny curls and dots, clothing is woven with care, everything is abundant and vibrant, as though physical objects exude the life that Byatt’s characters are too reserved to express. The world is beautiful, whether or not people notice. Or if they do notice, it’s through an aesthetic lens alone rather than emotional one.

The three stories in Matisse are “Medusa’s Ankles,” “Art Work,” and “The Chinese Lobster.”

“Art Work” is the centerpiece of the collection. Debbie and Robin are married with two children. Robin is an artist, long struggling to express his fascinations with the particulars of color. To help run the household, Debbie hires Mrs Brown. In bringing about order, Mrs Brown occasionally interferes with Robin’s studio by tidying up his “fetish table,” a place in which he collects examples of color that he wants to examine: cobalt-blue candlesticks, a golden-green apple made by Wedgwood, a reproduction of a sunny-yellow sauceboat designed by Monet.

Mrs Brown is a bit of a scavenger, often collecting cast-off clothes, yarn, neckties, odds and ends that she uses for private purposes. After Robin’s work is considered for presentation in a gallery and is turned down, it is Mrs Brown who proves to be the artist with her squishy, Muppet-like constructions: “huge tapestries, partly knitted, partly made like rag rugs, with shifting streams and islands of colour, which when looked at closely reveal little peering mad embroidered faces, green with blue eyes, black with red eyes, pink with silver eyes.” All her art is made from the cast-off materials she has collected.

The story addresses the question not so much of what constitutes art but rather what inspires it. Where do artists find their muse? And what is the impetus that makes people discover the ability to make change?

The other two stories in the collection are fascinating as well. Finely crafted, like Robin’s fetish table, full of rich, unexpected colors that stir the internal, private life.
( )
  louis.arata | Jul 31, 2015 |
This is not Byatt's most substantial work, but this is a deliciously witty and erudite set of three stories inspired by Matisse's painting. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 22, 2015 |
Beautifully written and deeply introspective, this book quietly ponders life as it relates to aging, self perception and creativity. ( )
  BALE | Dec 31, 2014 |
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She had walked in one day because she had seen the Rosy Nude through the plate glass.
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"It's horrible," said Susannah. "I look like a middle-aged woman with a hair-do." ["Medusa's ankles")
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067976223X, Paperback)

These three stories celebrate the eye even as they reveal its unexpected proximity to the heart. For if each of A.S. Byatt's narratives is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling--about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our being. Beautifully written, intensely observed, The Matisse Stories is fiction of spellbinding authority.

"Full of delight and humor...The Matisse Stories is studded with brilliantly apt images and a fine sense for subtleties of conversation and emotion."--San Francisco Chronicle

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Contains three stories, each touched in a different way by the paintings of the French artist, Henri Matisse.

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