Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Completed: The Venetian's Wife

Dear Jenny,

Well, I burned through that one -- lots of illustrations, as well as letters and "diary entries," so it was a quick read. As with all Nick Bantock books, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. His illustrations are mesmerizing and I love his quirky stories.

Briefly, here's the plot: Girl gets hired to reunite pieces of an ancient personal art collection. As it turns out, the guy hiring her died 500 years ago, but his spirit has been surviving via electricity, then electrical wires, then phone wires, and he is now able to communicate via the Internet. Handy!

Soo... it's actually his own collection that he is trying to get back together, although we're never 100% sure why. Something about reuniting with his wife, so... does bringing the collection together somehow bring her back to him? Or allow him to disappear to join her? It's unclear. She was some kind of sorceress and set the whole thing up. It all works out in the end, so yay.

This story (um... slightly more complex than my synopsis, btw) is communicated entirely through email exchanges, diary and travelogue snippets, historical artifacts, images of the lost art pieces, and a few asides from the Ghost in the Machine himself. All of that is beautifully done -- it's an epic romantic story and, of course, a visual treat.

Having said that, I think that I am hyper critical of these TBR books, knowing that I have to write about them later (Does this happen to you? While reading, I find myself thinking, "What am I going I say about this?" I don't think that about non-TBR books. But maybe it's good for me. You know. To think. Or something.)

So what are my issues? Cause ya know I have them. Well, at one point about midway through, the Ghost basically tells the girl that she is some kind of descendent of his. And she... does not react to this at all. I had to re-read the line several times.

He says to her: "The collection will come together, you will inherit your birthright, and the drum will beat again." Just... out of nowhere! Why would that be her birthright if he is not her ancestor? Am I misinterpreting that? I read that and thought, "What?!" but she didn't react at all.

So I thought that was strange.

And then... while the whole book has the potential to be squirm-inducing (for me) with its "erotic art" talk, it managed to not make me squirm at all. In fact, even the most "erotic" art in the book is quite lovely and not at all grody. Until the very last image in the book! Seriously?!

It's sort of a closeup of a sculpture of some lady parts but... the proportions are weird. It's like... she's pulling down her waistband, but things are... I don't know! In the wrong place or something. And the worst part is, I keep staring at it, because I'm like, "What the hell is going on here? Is that a piece of meat on her lap?!" So then it's making me even more squirmy. I'd take a photo of it, but it's... ugh... I don't want to look at it any more or share the weirdness. Just trust me. Such a bummer to end on that image, you know?

To alleviate the squirmy talk, I've put some awesome images from the book into this post:
1. Gorgeous letter A
2. Mail art + Elephant = Yes.
3: My Palace! (I was so happy to see it)
4. The Ghost in the Machine himself.


1 comment:

  1. Please just promise me next time I visit, you'll remember to show me this book. The meat on the lap! The unexplored territory of the female soul! Even *I'm* squirming, and that's saying something. Heh.

    Yes, birthright indicates familial relations, I agree. I have no idea what else to make of that. I do love the idea of him living on in electricity and communicating through the internet. Clever!

    I love the way you're burning up the charts here. It's inspiring me to get myself together and actually get cracking on a September book.