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Overview

A beautifully imagined story of the last days of Frida Kahlo's life

A few days before Frida Kahlo's death in 1954, she wrote in her diary, ?I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to return.? Diagnosed with polio at the age of six and plagued by illness and injury throughout her life, Kahlo's chronic pain was a recurrent theme in her extraordinary art. In Frida's Bed, Slavenka Drakulic´ explores the inner life of one of the world's most ...
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Frida's Bed

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Overview

A beautifully imagined story of the last days of Frida Kahlo's life

A few days before Frida Kahlo's death in 1954, she wrote in her diary, ?I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to return.? Diagnosed with polio at the age of six and plagued by illness and injury throughout her life, Kahlo's chronic pain was a recurrent theme in her extraordinary art. In Frida's Bed, Slavenka Drakulic´ explores the inner life of one of the world's most influential female artists, skillfully weaving Frida's memories into descriptions of her paintings, producing a meditation on the nature of chronic pain and creativity. With an intriguing subject whose unusual life continues to fascinate, this poignant imagining of Kahlo's thoughts during her final hours by another daringly original and uncompromising creative talent will attract readers of literary fiction and art lovers alike.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this carefully honed portrait that reads like a biography, Croatian author Drakulic (Café Europa) distills Mexican painter Frida Kahlo's life into one consistent theme: pain. From her bout of polio at age six to the streetcar accident that ensured her lifelong dependence on painkillers, Kahlo was always accompanied by the specter of death. In dreamy flashbacks, Drakulic tells Frida's story: raised by an illiterate mother and an epileptic German father who was a photographer, she was the only one of her sisters to get an education. Toughened by her accident, Frida's boldness attracts celebrated mural artist Diego Rivera, whom she calls the Maestro. His love for her is different from his casual relationships with other women, yet also underscores the grotesqueness of her body. His philandering plagues Frida with feelings of rejection and inadequacy until her death at age 47. After Rivera's affair with her younger sister Kity, Frida's paintings move from hobby to burning need, a way to survive his betrayal and her own cursed physicality. Intensely moving, Drakulic's novelization works from inside the raw psyche outward. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

There is little previously uncovered material in this exploration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's life by Croatian author Drakulic (Café Europe; S), who now lives in Sweden. Like other accounts, it tells of Kahlo's monumental personal struggles: a childhood bout with polio, a near-fatal accident when she was a teenager, and a turbulent, on-again, off-again romance with muralist Diego Rivera. What distinguishes the work is Drakulic's impassioned-albeit imagined-interrogation of the psychological under-pinnings of Kahlo's artistry and daily routines. Emotionally riveting and intellectually rich, the novel juxtaposes Kahlo's first-person psychosocial analysis with art criticism to create something wholly new. Indeed, Kahlo's profound introspection is well honed in Drakulic's rendering, and the painter's account of staggering challenges, from enduring constant physical pain to dealing with Rivera's compulsive womanizing, reads like a series of diary entries. The novel allows readers to glimpse both the public and the private woman, someone whose bravado, marked by colorful costumes and elaborate jewelry, collides with depression and rage. A fascinating portrait of a fascinating person; highly recommended for all fiction and psychology collections.
—Eleanor J. Bader

Kirkus Reviews
The final days of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, as imagined by the Croatian-born author (They Would Never Hurt a Fly, 2004, etc.). Confined to her bed and suffering from pneumonia, among other ailments, Frida has ample time to contemplate her role in the world just as she mentally readies herself to leave it. The frail 47-year-old, who is also recovering from the amputation of her right leg, ruminates on her remarkable experiences as both an artist and as the beautiful, exotic wife to famous muralist Diego Rivera (here called simply "the Maestro"). It is her lifetime of physical suffering, though, that in this book defines her most. A childhood bout of polio withers her leg; a gruesome streetcar accident nearly kills her as a teen; and chronic back pain makes even sitting still and painting a defiant act of self-control and will. Also explored are the well-known, gossipy events of her biography, including her husband's chronic womanizing. He betrays her with her healthy younger sister Kity, an act that cuts especially deep, even as Frida outwardly forgives them both. An affair with exiled Leon Trotsky gives her insight in what it feels like to be the other woman for a change, and it suggests that Frida's longtime flirtation with communism has less to do with ideology than it does with getting closer to her husband. But it is pain and a desire to rise above her physical body that she returns to again and again, even as she realizes that her finest work would not have been possible without it. Seemingly helpless at the end, she is left to ultimately decide how much of a role to have in her own demise. This often-downbeat work includes ample stream-of-consciousness musings and briefexaminations of Kahlo's art, and how it was influenced by her life. Elegant portrait of an artist that grants Kahlo a vulnerability and complexity often missing from the kitschy images of her that abound today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440631795
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,032,853
  • File size: 171 KB

Meet the Author

Slavenka Drakulic was born in Croatia in 1949. The author of several works of nonfiction and novels, she has written for The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, and numerous publications around the world.
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