Portrait of the Artist with My Wife

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Henry Hippolytus Fluck, an artist whose ambition is to paint the Great English Nude, is a slovenly, fat, pontifical genius with body odor. Or so we are led to believe by ``S.J.,'' the erudite, drunken, suicidal art critic who narrates this moderately amusing study of obsession and self-delusion. S.J. believes that Fluck, his ex-college roommate, is having an affair with his uncommunicative wife, Poppet. The affair may be all in S.J.'s imagination, but a murder will result from this triangle of sorts. Much of the fun derives from seeing through the tissue of S.J.'s lies, self-deceptions and misrepresentations; his deliciously apt allusions to artists ranging from Botticelli to Klimt are also a source of pleasure. But Mason, an editor at Oxford University Press, does not develop the subsidiary characters, and reader interest in S.J.'s cultured, half-demented rant wanes. Published to acclaim in England, this belabored first novel bristles with a sardonic wit that loses some of its bite in the transatlantic sea-change. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This would more accurately be titled A Deft Portrait of the Narrator's Self-Destruction . We only know him as S.J., a failed poet turned art critic; his alcoholism alienates his wife, whom he nicknames Poppet. A painter and college friend, Henry Fluck, has the two of them over for a party and then paints the ``Great English Nude'' using S.J.'s wife as model. ``Nudity is knowledge,'' S.J. keeps quoting Fluck, but jealous S.J. perverts this ``knowledge'' by misperceiving Fluck as having an affair with Poppet (though he himself tries to seduce another woman). He murders Fluck and absconds to write this lengthy suicide ``note.'' At the very end, though, enough of his mind clears to make him see, vaguely, his own guilt. This first novel harps on one string, but artfully enough to make it recommended.-- Kenneth Mintz, formerly with Bayonne P.L., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399136054
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/14/1991
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 20.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 20.00 (d)

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