Hugh Nissenson The Song of the Earth

ISBN 13: 9781565122987

The Song of the Earth

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9781565122987: The Song of the Earth
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Even before his birth, Johnny Baker's life is in danger. His mother breaks the law when she has her fertilized egg endowed with genes that will give her son the potential to become a visual artist. Born in 2038, John Firth Baker is the first genetically engineered artist. At the age of nineteen, at the threshold of his career, he is murdered. Now, ten years after his death, Baker has become famous. An art curator has organized a show of his work, and his biography-culled from journals, e-mails, and interviews with those who knew him best-is published. The Song of the Earth is this "biography." It presents a powerful and haunting portrait of an artist as a young man in the twenty-first century.

Baker is born into a world transformed by technology: genetic profiles, space travel, and controlled housing communities are commonplace. Global warming has altered the environment. A planetary gender war is raging, familial structures are shattered, and new religions contend with the old. Yet human needs remain the same: the search for love, the desire for approval, the longing for fame, and the quest for knowledge. The Song of the Earth is a hypnotic novel about our desire to control our destinies, our yearning for immortality, and the very human impulse to create art. With prose, poetry, and images, Nissenson tells an original tale that brilliantly captures the experience of another time and place.

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From the Inside Flap:

The year is 2057. John Firth Baker, the first genetically engineered visual artist, is murdered at the age of nineteen. He leaves behind a body of drawing, painting, and sculptures, culminating in the thirteen seminal works known to the world as Baker's Dozen. Within a decade of his death, Baker becomes a cult figure. A retrospective of his work is mounted at the Virtual Museum of Manual Art. The Song of the Earth is his biography - organized around reproductions of his art and based on journals, e-mails, newspaper clippings, and interviews with those who knew him.

Baker grows up in an age transformed by technology. Twenty years earlier, his mother had her fertilized egg illegally endowed with genes that would give him potential to become a visual artist. His is a world in which genetic profiles, space travel, and gender reassignment are common. Global warming has altered the environment. A planetary war between women and men rages, familial structures have shattered, and new religions contend with the old.

Yet human needs remain the same. Baker is obsessed with sex, he searches for love, he seeks immortality, first through religion and then through art. Inspired by his dreams, nightmares, and fantasies, Baker rejects digital technology and teaches himself to make images with his own hands. When he reveals the secret of his gifts, his life is in danger.

In prose, poetry, and pictures, Hugh Nissenson creates a new kind of narrative about the inner life of the artist and a cautionary tale about the human desire to control evolution. Spare, original, and extraordinary, The Song of the Earth brilliantly captures another time and place and presents a haunting portrait of an artist as a young man in the twenty-first century.

From the Back Cover:

Visionary.

Early praise for The Song of The Earth:

"Any reader who believes that, after Joyce, the novel can no longer give rise to the absolutely innovative and the absolutely astonishing will be shocked into revelation by Hugh Nissenson's The Song of the Earth. Its subterranean counterminings disclose the roiling demons in the cellar of the human mind, but that is hardly all. Nissenson's art of the future is twinned with the deepest history of imagination, and The Song of the Earth is visionary at its powerful and entirely amazing root. It is a novel literally of image-making; it is a novel written against the sacred and, strangely, for the sacred; it is a novel like no other." (Cynthia Ozick, author of The Puttermesser Papers and Quarrel & Quandary)

  • "Tremendously imaginative and creative, Hugh Nissenson has created something unusual and unique." (Paula Cooper, Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC)

    "A cool fascination awaits readers on every page. And then there are Nissenson's pictures"so brilliant that is seems the book were made to illustrate them." (Kirkus Reviews)

    Praise for THE TREE OF LIFE:

    "This small novel works like a laser beam, penetrating the American experience with searing and concentrated intensity." (Los Angeles Times)

    "A strikingly original work, harsh and beautiful." (Newsweek)

    "Extraordinary." (The New York Times)

    "A work of art." (The New Yorker)

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