Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Top ten artworks in novels

Ian MacKenzie's debut novel, City of Strangers, is published in paperback this month by Penguin.

At the Guardian, he named his top 10 artworks in novels.

One book on the list:
A Heart So White by Javier Marías

Guards watch silently over us as we glide reverently through a museum's hushed chambers. But after we exit the room, the guard has to stay – and stay, and stay. In Marías's fraught, extraordinary novel, one such guard snaps and attempts to set fire to Rembrandt's Artemisa, which hangs in the Prado, with a pocket lighter. He is sick of "the fat woman", and believes that the young girl attending to her is prettier; but her back is turned, and she will never reveal her face, no matter how long he stares. Watching the artwork becomes a kind of water torture. Marías keeps the scene's comic temperature at a low boil, attending to the guard's complaint with utter seriousness, and the reader comes away impressed by the ability of one painting to nudge a man toward madness.
Read about another item on MacKenzie's list.

--Marshal Zeringue