Cover image for Alive in shape and color : 17 paintings by great artists and the stories they inspired
Title:
Alive in shape and color : 17 paintings by great artists and the stories they inspired
Edition:
First Pegasus Books cloth edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pegasus Books, 2017.
ISBN:
9781681775616
Physical Description:
x, 310 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Safety rules / Pierre, Lucien, and me / Girl with a fan / The third panel / A significant find / Charlie the barber / After Georgia O'Keeffe's flower / Ampurdan / Orange is for anguish, blue for insanity / Les Beaux Jours / Truth comes out of her well to shame mankind / The great wave / Thinkers / Gaslight / Blood in the Sun / The big town / Looking for David
Abstract:
"In his brilliant follow-up to In Sunlight or In Shadow, Lawrence Block has gathered together the best talent from popular fiction to produce an anthology as inventive as it is alluring, including Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, David Morrell, and Jeffery Deaver." -- Amazon.com.

Any number of artists have produced evocative work, paintings that could trigger a literary response. For this collection, each author was invited to select a painting-- from the cave drawings at Lascaux to a contemporary abstract canvas on which the paint has barely dried-- and write a story. Each story is accompanied in color by the work of art that inspired it.
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Prescott Public Library1Received on 1/10/18

Summary

Summary

In his brilliant follow-up to In Sunlight or In Shadow , Lawrence Block has gathered together the best talent from popular fiction to produce an anthology as inventive as it is alluring, including Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, David Morrell, and Jeffery Deaver.

Even before Lawrence Block could rest on his laurels from In Sunlight or In Shadow , a question arose. What would he do for an encore?

Any number of artists have produced evocative work, paintings that could trigger a literary response. But none came to mind who could equal Hopper in turning out canvas after canvas. If no single artist could take Hopper's place, how about a full palette of them? Suppose each author was invited to select a painting from the whole panoply of visual art--From the cave drawings at Lascaux to a contemporary abstract canvas on which the paint has barely dried.

And what a dazzling response! Joyce Carol Oates picked Le Beaux Jours by Balthus. Warren Moore chose Salvador Dali's The Pharmacist of Ampurdam Seeking Absolutely Nothing . Michael Connelly, who sent Harry Bosch to Chicago for a close look at Nighthawks , has a go at The Garden of Earthly Delights by Harry's namesake Hieronymous Bosch. S. J. Rozan finds a story in Hokusai's The Great Wave , while Jeffery Deaver's "A Significant Find" draws its inspiration from--yes--those prehistoric cave drawings at Lascaux. And Kristine Kathryn Rusch moves from painting to sculpture and selects Rodin.

In artists ranging from Art Frahm and Norman Rockwell to René Magritte and Clifford Still, the impressive concept goes on to include Thomas Pluck, Sarah Weinman, David Morrell, Craig Ferguson, Joe R. Lansdale, Jill D. Block, Justin Scott, Jonathan Santlofer, Gail Levin, Nicholas Christopher, and Lee Child, with each story accompanied in color by the work of art that inspired it.
Illustrated with 16 color plates


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

MWA Grand Master Block follows 2016's In Sunlight or In Shadow-which gathered stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper-with an anthology whose theme is a bit more nebulous: stories inspired by iconic paintings, from the cave drawings at Lascaux to Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Cannas. Among the 16 contributors are such luminaries as Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly, most of whom are best known for their thriller and mystery fiction. Standouts include David Morrell's Van Gogh-inspired "Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity," which chronicles an artist's horrifying descent into madness; Jeffery Deaver's "A Significant Find," in which a husband-and-wife archeologist team makes what seems to be the discovery of a lifetime in the caves of southern France; and Joe R. Lansdale's "Charlie the Barber," which uses a charming Rockwell painting, First Trip to the Beauty Shop, as a jumping-off point for a horrifying tale about a robbery gone wrong. Other selections aren't so memorable. Still, the fascinating premise has yielded some dark gems that are worth the price of admission. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

ON ITS SURFACE, the idea sounds like a good one: commission fiction writers to create short stories inspired by famous artworks. Between the covers, the reality is something decidedly more equivocal. What's the purpose of such stories? How do they relate to the artworks they're pegged to? "Alive in Shape and Color: 17 Paintings by Great Artists and the Stories They Inspired," a new anthology compiled and edited by the writer Lawrence Block, raises these questions without providing clear answers. Block enlisted 16 colleagues to join him in writing stories based on artworks of their choosing (two of which are sculptures and one of which is a print). The book is a follow-up to his previous effort in this vein, "In Sunlight or in Shadow," a 2016 compilation of stories inspired by Edward Hopper paintings. The most interesting aspect of "Alive in Shape and Color" is the range of approaches taken by the authors. Some, like Jonathan Santlofer, use the contents of paintings as general reference images, visual moments that surface within characters' minds or memories. Others incorporate the specific artworks into their narratives: S.J. Rozan's captive protagonist communes with Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave," and Kristine Kathryn Rusch imagines the story of the Weather Underground members who bombed Rodin's "The Thinker" in Cleveland in 1970. Still other contributors use their artworks as starting points that often help set the tone of a story: David Morrell's contribution doesn't explicitly evoke van Gogh's "Cypresses" but instead borrows the fact of the artist's madness to tell the tale of a painter named Van Dorn who was driven insane by what he saw in a grove of cypress trees. As these snippets suggest, the stories in "Alive in Shape and Color" veer toward high-stakes drama; Block is a crime writer, and here he has gravitated to his own kind. Death (or impending death) is the most consistent plot device; nearly all the stories contain it - or war, abuse, violence, or depravity. This makes for some pageturners, but it also imposes a wearying sameness on the book. A more varied group of writers could probably dream up a more wide-ranging and satisfying collection. (Surely the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux have further mystery to impart beyond Jeffery Deaver's archaeologist couple trapped and killed by a jealous ex.) One problem seems to be a lack of imagination in constructing a book whose foundation is, essentially, the potency of imagination. The vast majority of the selected artworks were made by men living in the West (mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries). The writers, as well as the editor, appear to be white, and fewer than half are women (one is Lawrence Block's daughter). The female protagonists tend to be either victims or unhinged (especially when on their periods, as in Thomas Pluck's story). Perhaps the book's greatest strength is inadvertent: It reminds us how badly in need of updating our canons are. Another problem, less easily solved, is the difficulty inherent in translating one creative medium into another. The stories in "Alive in Shape and Color" incorporate art but for the most part aren't about it; instead, the paintings function as storytelling devices. The two exceptions come from Warren Moore and Joyce Carol Oates. Inspired by Salvador Dali's "The Pharmacist of Ampurdan Seeking Absolutely Nothing," Moore summons the inner life of Alan Bowling, a pharmacist with a dark secret who goes for long walks on the outskirts of town; the ending feels less like a gotcha moment and more like a fitting, quiet conclusion. In "Les Beaux Jours," Oates plunges headfirst into the rumors of pedophilia that haunt Balthus's work, writing as the scared prepubescent subject of the title painting who's trapped in the artist's shadow world. Suspended between reality and fantasy, her story functions as a kind of parable about the seductions of art, or, as Oates writes, "something she could not have defined - the consolation of art, the impersonality of art, the escape of art." Both Moore and Oates find drama in psychological complexity. Their stories, the best in the book, move beyond mere use or homage to something approaching understanding. Rather than simply refer back to their chosen paintings, they seem to inhabit them. ? Block enlisted 16 colleagues to join him in writing stories based on artworks of their choosing. JILLIAN Steinhauer writes about art and politics and is a former senior editor at Hyperallergic.


Library Journal Review

Following the success of 2016's art-related collection In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, also edited by Block, this follow-up falls a little short but still contains some nuggets. Unlike the Hopper-centric stories of the earlier volume, this title features all manner of art, from the cave paintings of Lascaux (Jeffery -Deaver's "A Significant Find") to Balthus (Joyce Carol Oates's creepy "Les Beaux Jours"), Bosch (Michael Connelly's taut "The Third Panel"), Van Gogh (David Morrell's "Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity"), Rodin (Kristine Kathryn Rusch's uneven "Thinkers"), and many others. Some authors tell the painting's creation myth, with Morrell's Stephen King-inflected offering a standout, and Nicholas Christopher contributing "Girl with a Fan" (Gauguin), a spy story with Nazis. Sarah Weinman's period-perfect "The Big Town," and Lee Child's well-crafted "Pierre, Lucien, and Me" feature art-loving protagonists compelled by paintings to do wrong. In "The Great Wave," S.J. Rozan's captive narrator speaks to a print of Katsushika Hokusai's masterpiece (it talks back). Yet two of the best stories, Joe R. Lansdale's deceptively folksy "Charlie the Barber," and Thomas Pluck's stunning "Truth Comes Out of Her Well To Shame Mankind," barely mention their chosen artworks. VERDICT Reminiscent of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, this anthology has something, often nasty or scary, for every art lover.-Liz French, Library Journal © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.