How to Paint a Dead Man: A Novel by Sarah Hall
‘In this gorgeous still life of a book, Sarah Hall gives us four lives — two in 1960s Italy and two in contemporary Britain — each narrated in a different voice. All are artists confronting mortal peril: Susan is a young British photographer mourning her twin brother, Giorgio is an Italian still-life painter facing terminal illness, Peter is a British landscape artist who becomes physically trapped under a boulder he is painting, and Annette is a blind Italian flower girl who once loved to draw and whose beauty makes her a target for assault. Their stories appear unrelated until the connections between them slowly unfold.
The book’s great triumph is that we finish it feeling the same way. Hall has a poet’s gift, and this novel is best enjoyed as a prose poem whose blindingly beautiful insights gradually accrue. Her portraits of these artists are captured moments, with each life slowed to a stop by loss and pain. She has made visible to us what we would otherwise be too blind to see in our mortal lives: the ever-present shadow of eternity.’
$10 Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 8, 2009) Amazon.com