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THE ARTIST OF THE MISSING.

LaFarge, Paul.

ISBN 10: 0374525803 / ISBN 13: 9780374525804
Published by NY: FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX. 1999, 1999
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From WAVERLEY BOOKS ABAA (Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.)

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UNCORRECTED PROOF. Fine in plain peach colored printed wrappers. Author's well-received FIRST book. Not to be mistaken for the far more common ARC. Bookseller Inventory # 16677

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE ARTIST OF THE MISSING.

Publisher: NY: FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX. 1999

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Softcover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Frank, a young artist, arrives in the city hoping to unravel the mystery of his parents' disappearance. He begins working as a washer of robes at a hotel for itinerant judges. There he meets and falls in love with Prudence, a forensic photographer whose pictures reveal the secrets of the dead.

When Prudence disappears, Frank sets out in search of her, a quest that leads him into the shadowy world of a revolutionary salon, then to prison, and finally to discover the city's strange secrets and the secrets of his own heart.

A haunting novel, The Artist of the Missing is a stunning debut, both a richly imagined evocation of another world and a piercing examination of the mystery of love, and beautifully illustrated by the acclaimed artist Stephen Alcorn.

A visionary novel about love, loss, imagination, and despair.

Review:

The most compelling character of The Artist of the Missing isn't Frank, the artist in question, who paints portraits of missing persons. It isn't his brother James, who disappears with Frank's money. Or even the mysterious Prudence, a police photographer who takes pictures of corpses and who herself disappears. The true hero of Paul Lafarge's debut novel is the nameless city itself, in which he sets his fairytale cast adrift. Here the plot (various shady doings and comings and goings) takes a back seat to the sheer brilliance of the setting--menacing, decrepit architecture and twisting cobblestone walkways where Kafka's Josef K would feel entirely at home. Just the kind of urban netherworld where it's as easy for a reader to become as blissfully lost as one of the poor souls who walk its streets.

The world of The Artist of the Missing is self-contained and operates according to its own skewed, metaphysical principles. There's a university so old that the statues of benefactors crowd its lawn elbow to elbow. Mannequins speak, and police go about the business of investigating homicides with eerie indifference. Posters of the missing appear on nearly every surface, their faces fading reminders of loved ones nobody expects ever to see again. Frank pushes forward with his lonely quest to uncover the city's horrible secrets, and the story follows him, lagging behind once in awhile to take in the gorgeous scenery. As if that weren't enough, illustrator Stephen Alcorn's cubist drawings beautifully compliment the text.

There's little sense that Frank is real beyond the fairytale hero's guise he inhabits. But that doesn't seem to matter, given the tilt and pitch of Lafarge's elegant, evocative prose. Characters in these kinds of stories are pawns played in a grand game of literary wizardry. These are fictional cities that have been trod before, by Borges, García Márquez, and a bevy of European fantasists from Bruno Schulz to Danilo Kis. Here Lafarge quickly sets up shop and passes easily for a native. A startling, promising debut, The Artist of the Missing succeeds in mapping out the shape-shifting terrain of human loss. --Ryan Boudinot

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