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3.8 5
by Kathryn Harrison

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“Luminous and affecting . . . [Exposure] examines the often fine line between art and abuse. . . . Taut in plot, beautifully realistic, and intelligently disturbing.”
–Harper’s Bazaar

Ann Rogers appears to be a happily married, successful young woman. A talented photographer, she creates happy memories for others, videotaping


“Luminous and affecting . . . [Exposure] examines the often fine line between art and abuse. . . . Taut in plot, beautifully realistic, and intelligently disturbing.”
–Harper’s Bazaar

Ann Rogers appears to be a happily married, successful young woman. A talented photographer, she creates happy memories for others, videotaping weddings, splicing together scenes of smiling faces, editing out awkward moments. But she cannot edit her own memories so easily–images of a childhood spent as her father’s model and muse, the subject of his celebrated series of controversial photographs. To cope, Ann slips into a secret life of shame and vice. But when the Museum of Modern Art announces a retrospective of her father’s shocking portraits, Ann finds herself teetering on the edge of self-destruction, desperately trying to escape the psychological maelstrom that threatens to consume her.

“Astounding . . . told in prose as multifaceted as a diamond, crystalline and mesmerizing. ‘Remarkable’ hardly goes far enough.”

“Impossible to put down . . . Kathryn Harrison is an extremely gifted writer, poetic, passionate, and elegant.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Exquisite, exhilarating, and harrowing.”
–Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History and The Little Friend

“A breathless urban nightmare not easy to forget. Stark, brilliant, and original work.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Harrison's second novel (after Thicker Than Water ) is a mesmerizing depiction of a woman on the edge of emotional disintegration. Ann Rogers is a beautiful, chic, financially comfortable New Yorker with a career as a videographer of weddings and society functions, and a loving husband who restores landmark buildings. But Ann is addicted to speed, a drug which holds especially dangerous consequences for her, since she is a diabetic. Moreover, every time she does crystal meth, she compulsively shoplifts at Bergdorf's and Saks. Flashing back to Ann's Texas upbringing, Harrison gradually discloses the source of her deep neuroses. Her cold, monstrously selfish father extracted a bizarre kind of vengeance for her mother's death in childbirth. Edgar Rogers became famous for his photographs of a prepubescent and adolescent Ann, naked and assuming deathly poses. He committed suicide in 1979; now a retrospective of his work, including photos of Ann engaged in acts the memory of which she has tried to repress, is imminent at the MoMA. Demonstrating impressive control of the novel's structure and pacing, Harrison steadily deepens her sophisticated psychological portrait of Ann while elevating suspense and the reader's emotional involvement. The shocking circumstances of Ann's life become clear: she survived traumatic events by pathologically retreating into herself, but her subconscious erupts now and then in suicidal behavior. This unsparing picture of a woman spinning out of control is conveyed in luminous and tensile prose. The novel's larger theme, an indictment of a society ``which encourages exploitation even as it punishes all who chronicle it,'' is eerily prescient, calling to mind the current controversy over photographer Sally Mann's nude pictures of her children. Harrowing but spellbinding, the novel has the impact of an unforgettably vivid image seared on the eye. BOMC featured alternate. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Ann Rogers seems successful--she's happily married and a partner in a thriving videography business--but she's also a diabetic hooked on speed and a compulsive shoplifter at some of New York's best stores. While she skillfully videotapes and edits other people's celebrations and turns them into happy memories, she is unable to face her own past. Her life spins farther out of control at the approach of a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art of the work of her father, a noted photographer whose model was prepubescent Ann, posed as if dead or caught in sexually explicit situations. Harrison ( Thicker Than Water, LJ 3/15/91) is a remarkable storyteller with a clear, strong voice; she hooks the reader right from the start (as Ann tugs on a stolen skirt in a taxi) and shows, finally, that we are all products of our history. Compelling. BOMC featured alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/91.-- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Donna Seaman
Ann Rogers, a successful New York video producer, is on the edge. Diabetic, high-strung, and beautiful, if a bit bony, she has no business doing speed and giving in to her compulsion to shoplift. But inexplicable behavior is as much her heritage as her visual talents and unruly body chemistry. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father, a cold, selfish man, achieved tremendous acclaim for his disturbingly enigmatic photographs of Ann as a child and adolescent. Their collaboration has an incestuous, ghoulish aura; Rogers arranged his eerily compliant daughter into corpselike poses. Careless about monitoring her insulin and food intake, Ann slips into dangerously vulnerable and erotic fugue states. After her father's suicide, Ann manages to construct a nearly normal adult life, but old fears and pains reemerge when the Museum of Modern Art mounts a controversial exhibit of her father's work, including long secret, quite shocking photographs that Ann has no memory of posing for. As Ann's emotional and physical deterioration reach critical levels, we're hit with the full impact of her loneliness, sense of violation, and desperation. Harrison draws us into some extremely provocative territory in this brilliant, if harrowing, tale as she explores the geography of illness, victimization, and the consequences of elevating art over love.
Kirkus Reviews
A stunning second novel from Harrison (Thicker Than Water, 1991) details the fragmented and increasingly self-destructive life of a woman whose every secret moment has been played before a camera's eye. It is the summer of '92, and N.Y.C.'s Museum of Modern Art has moved up its retrospective of the photographic works of the late Edgar Rogers in an effort to halt the rash of protests, bomb threats, and the one self-immolation that the planned exhibit has already inspired. The protestors claim that Rogers's photographs, which record his prepubescent daughter Ann in dozens of acts of self-mutilation, masturbation, intercourse, and, most frequently and perhaps most disturbing, in death-like trances caused by her diabetes, are misogynistic and obscene. The museum curators argue that they are works of art—an assertion apparently supported by Ann herself as, now grown up, she races about town videotaping society weddings for a living, sniffing crystal meth in bathrooms, and diving into Bergdorf Goodman's for compulsive shoplifting sprees. Ann knows, dimly, that her secret life as a drug addict, thief, and liar threatens her career, her sanity, and her otherwise happy marriage—but as the retrospective approaches, the need to hide from memories of her cold, all-seeing father, who seemed able to seize and steal her every private moment (and with whom she suspects she collaborated in an attempt to win his love), keeps her running at manic speed. On opening night, Ann learns that not only has her shameful childhood been laid bare for the public to judge, but that her husband and attorney have, out of well-meaning concern, conspired to have her watched—paying for her thefts,witnessing her drug abuse, and otherwise brutally invading her privacy yet again. The discovery sends Ann over the edge—taking the reader with her into a breathless urban nightmare not easy to forget. Stark, brilliant, and original work.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:

Meet the Author

Kathryn Harrison has written the novels Thicker Than Water, Exposure, Poison, The Binding Chair, The Seal Wife, Envy, and Enchantments. Her autobiographical work includes The Kiss, Seeking Rapture, The Road to Santiago, The Mother Knot, and True Crimes. She has written two biographies, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and Joan of Arc, and a book of true crime, While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison.

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Exposure 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Bunzino More than 1 year ago
I originially read this book when browsing for something to waste time on a plane...I read it extremely fast and then a couple years later I read it again. This book is thought provoking, attention grabbing, and can make you self reflect. You feel for the main character and can so suprememly empathize with her breakdown and failed relationships or brink there of, that this is a fantastic read for a strong mind.
Souvy More than 1 year ago
a masterpiece. harrison's ability to communicate very complex psychological situations is stunning. you hold your breath as you read this one, not quite believing she will be able to pull it off and resolve the plot in a way that will make the harrowing journey it describes worthwhile. and then that's exactly what she does! miraculously, it succeeds in ways that keep you on the edge until the last, remarkable paragraph. wow is the only word that comes to mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story line, making me reflect on my own tragedies and shortcomings. Intrigued me enough to check out more from the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept reading with the hopes that this novel would improve. Unfortunately it didn't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago