Book Review for STILL LIVES by Maria Hummel
STILL LIVES by Maria Hummel
☕ ☕ ☕ ☕ ☕
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: Dark, gritty, and salacious look at obsession, women's portrayal in culture, and art.
STILL LIVES, hands down, has to be one of the best books I have read in a while. The author expertly uses many timely and thought provoking issues as she weaves them into a suspenseful, intense mystery.
Not only does the author deliver a murder mystery with twists, turns, and a powerful ending, but she tackles the huge issue of women's portrayal in art, culture, and as victims. I don't think I could have picked a better follow up to my latest read, DEAD GIRLS. Hummel takes so much of what women are saying and trying to shed light on and thrusts it in your face with a fictional account of what is happening right now in our society. By using famous dead women as objects, the artist we read about is forcing the viewer to look at how we consume news and tragedy. This book will not only entertain. It will make you think as well.
I will tell you this. My background in art definitely made STILL LIVES even better for me. As the author describes Kim Lord and her work, I instantly flashed to walking around Cindy Sherman's gallery in Chelsea and seeing her photographs in the MoMA as I explored the museum during my lunch breaks. Hummel gets into the art world in a way few have done for me before. She captures all aspects of the museum system, the way collectors try to own artists, and how people within the art world act with eloquence and candor.
I loved this book. From beginning to end, I was captivated, shocked, and positively addicted to the outcome of the narrative. This is a must read and will no doubt be one of my favorite books this year.
Reviewer Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition
Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women.
As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances.
Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala.
Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her.
Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.
About the Author: MARIA HUMMEL is the author of Motherland (2014), an SF Chronicle Book of the Year; House and Fire (2013), and Wilderness Run (2002). She worked at MOCA in Los Angeles, then received a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and taught there for many years. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Vermont, and lives in Vermont with her husband and sons.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Counterpoint (June 5, 2018)
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