“Nersesian’s feel for the maneuvering of the city...is what makes his city stories so wholly engrossing.”
“Thoroughly validates Nersesian’s rep as one of the wittiest and most perceptive chroniclers of downtown life.”
“One of the best books...about the artist’s life. …A compelling read.”
“[Nersesian] has a talent for dark comedy and witty dialgoue…Woven throughout…are gems of observational brilliance…A vivid tour.”
“A definite achievement... Confirms Nersesian’s literary artistry. His edgy exploration...is hard to put down.”
Nersesian (The Fuck-Up; Manhattan Loverboy) weaves a heartfelt, tragicomic bohemian romance with echoes of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orloff Trenchant is the quintessential starving artist, leading a hand-to-mouth existence as he struggles to make his mark on the cutthroat New York gallery scene. Dumped by his artist girlfriend for a rich collector, living out of his beat-up van or borrowed lofts and selling used books on the sidewalk to make ends meet, "Or" is beginning to question his art-for-art's-sake ethos when he meets his muse in the person of Rita, a beautiful poetess, prostitute and heroin addict even more desperate than he is. Nersesian sends up the pretentiousness and excesses of the art world, but without the jeering tone the subject usually provokes in satirists. He writes evocatively of the processes and products of the artistic life, and he believes the issues raised by it-realism versus abstraction; money and security versus creativity and passion; the struggle to wrest deathless art from the transience of life, even from a Chinese takeout box (Or is commissioned to sculpt a tombstone in that shape for a deceased restaurateur)-are worth pondering. Indeed, the novel itself is a sprawling, obsessively detailed portrait of the Lower East Side demimonde during the 2000 election, as Or's frenetic life bounces him between used book stores, gallery openings, drug dens and literary dives where poets spout Naderite polemics. Infused with the symbolism of Greek legend, the hip squalor of this milieu takes on a mythic charge that energizes Nersesian's lyrical celebration of an evanescent moment in the life of the city. 4-city author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Not since Henry Miller has a writer so successfully captured the trials and tribulations of a struggling artist. Orloff Trenchant had initial success as an artist with paintings based on a subway accident but has languished in the years since, unable to finish his "East River Swimmer" series. He survives by selling used books in lower Manhattan, but when he slashes his girlfriend's paintings and leaves her, he is compelled to live in his van. Dealing with gallery owners, art critics, and fellow painters, Or becomes obsessed with Rita, a junkie poet, giving her what little money he has to buy drugs so that she won't have to turn tricks. Then he is offered a commission to sculpt a Chinese takeout container as a headstone. All this is set against the backdrop of the Gore-Bush recount, with Or finally understanding his artistic vision, the truth about Rita, and his place in the art world. Once again, Nersesian (Manhattan Loverboy) focuses on urban life, and here he has created a masterly image. Highly recommended-Josh Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Downtown novelist Nersesian (Dogrun, 2000, etc.) offers a witty tour through the lowest depths of high art in an account of a homeless Manhattan painter trying desperately to be discovered. Strictly speaking, Orloff Tranchant is not homeless-he lives in his van, which is a good deal more spacious than many New York apartments, and he has sublet a friend's studio to work in. But it's a nomadic existence all the same: eating at gallery openings, dodging the meter maids, selling used books on the street for cash. Orloff used to live with his girlfriend June, but he moved out after discovering a portfolio of pornographic sketches she'd drawn of a man who looked nothing like him. Shortly after (whether out of spite or desperation is unclear), June got engaged to a wealthy art collector named Barclay Hammel. All this is par for the course in the New York art game, which Nersesian depicts as a fool's paradise of vanity, self-obsession, greed, and madness. A good break comes Orloff's way when Persephone Miller, owner of the Pomegranate Gallery, helps him win a commission to sculpt a tombstone (shaped like a takeout food box) for the grave of a kosher Chinese restaurateur. Plus, Orloff meets and starts going out with Lynn Nguyen, a Vietnamese artist who works near his studio. At the same time, though, Orloff is frustrated in his efforts to help Rita, a heroin addict and prostitute, in reclaiming her life. And, in the unkindest cut of all, Orloff's van is towed away and impounded for $1,200 in unpaid parking tickets. Everyone knows artists have to suffer for their work-do they have to suffer for alternate-side-of-the-street rules as well? A fast-paced portrait of the joys and venalities of la viebohème: Nersesian's story is sharp without being caustic.