THE MUSEUM GUARD.
AbeBooks Seller Since November 6, 1997Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since November 6, 1997Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: THE MUSEUM GUARD.
Publisher: New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998. dj
Publication Date: 1998
Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition
About this title
The author of The Bird Artist, a finalist for the National Book Award, explores the darkening world of Europe in the 1930s through the story of a Jewish woman who comes under the spell of an unusual painting.Review:
On September 5, 1938, DeFoe Russet helps hang a new show at a tiny Nova Scotia museum. He doesn't even pay much attention to the eight new paintings from Holland; he'll have time enough to take them in later on. After all, the buttoned-down 25-year-old is one of two people at Halifax's Glace Museum paid to watch out for the art, to stop people from getting too close to it. But DeFoe also knows that "as a guard you had emotions. You got to know paintings better than you got to know the people in your life. Speaking for myself."
The other guard--and the man who raised him after his parents died in a zeppelin crash when he was 9--is his Uncle Edward. Edward is certainly not the steadiest fellow employee or familial influence. He devotes his nights to drinking, poker, and charming women at the Lord Nelson, the hotel where both men live, and his days to hangovers, somnolence, and generally harassing museumgoers. DeFoe, at least, is a model employee. Yet his personal life cannot be quite so regulated, and for the last two years he has been frustrated in his relationship with a caretaker at the local Jewish cemetery. He seems to expend most of his energy anticipating Imogen Linny's moods, assessing the power of her headaches, and banging his head against her nocturnal mixed messages and philosophizing. As the novel progresses, Imogen also grows increasingly obsessed with one of the newly arrived paintings, Jewess on a Street in Amsterdam.
Soon, DeFoe puts his career in jeopardy for Imogen, stealing the picture for her--though this is only one of the mysteries at the heart of Howard Norman's strange and startling third novel, The Museum Guard. Through DeFoe's eyes, we, too, begin to understand the allure of the painting, in which a woman pushes a bicycle and holds a loaf of bread, the shop window behind her filled with toothbrushes. "The toothbrushes made me laugh. They quickly put me in a good mood," he recounts. "But then I looked close up at the Jewess's face; I was sunk from that mood in a second. Because it struck me as a face of desperate sadness. Those are my own words. I stood as close to the painting as I could without touching it. Me--a guard. I reached out then and touched the woman's face. And I did not flinch back my hand or warn myself."
Howard Norman's protagonist would probably be able to pull himself back; this is a man who calms himself down by ironing endless white shirts. And he fully intends to keep the same job for the next 30 years. But those around him lack his instinct for order and seem to be pushing him toward the grand, self-destructive gesture. News of Hitler's advances on Europe also make him realize "how small Halifax had become." Imogen, too, feels her life a confinement, but her reaction is more extreme. She literally wills herself to become the woman in the painting. In one bizarre scene--and Norman has a knack for turning the extreme into the everyday--DeFoe finds her filling in for the usual museum guide. Speaking in an unconvincing Dutch accent and dressed as the Jewess, Imogen tells a group of increasingly puzzled women her version of events. "While he painted me, we fell in love. Just weeks before, with my parents' death, I had become estranged from my very soul. My marriage to Joop Heijman helped me to reconcile. And now you know my deepest secrets." Edward's assessment is as wry as ever, and spot-on: "Life in Halifax used to be so simple, didn't it, DeFoe?"
As Imogen's identification grows, she is resolved to go to Amsterdam and "reunite" with the painter. Howard Norman writes with such persuasive oddity that it's no surprise when those closely allied to the Glace Museum find themselves moving this futile, intrusive, and dangerous plan along. The Museum Guard is an unsettling examination of a group of people (with very odd names) who let themselves get too close to art--and perhaps to life. --Kerry Fried
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Bookfever.com is a partnership between Christine Volk and Eugene Iiams, Booksellers. Our mailing address is PO Box 696, Ione CA 95640 USA. Our store is located at 5 Main Street, Jackson, CA 95642 USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 209-274-6960. We accept Mastercard, Visa AMEX, Discover, checks or Paypal, whichever is most convenient for customers. Please contact us if you have any questions, or want to confirm availability. All dustjackets are in archival mylar covers, and books are packed ...More Information
Shipping includes insurance and/or delivery confirmation when appropriate. All dust jackets are covered with archival protectors. All books are PACKED CAREFULLY; we are also happy to gift wrap books (FREE) upon request, and to ship them with just a card. Prices shown include media mail shipping in the US and California sales tax, when required. An online bookseller since 1993, on ABE since 1997! While occasionally a book sells out, we only list books which we have in stock, and ready to ship. NOTE our low INTERNATIONAL RATES - Please do not hesitate to contact us to confirm availability or with any questions - we can be reached at email@example.com or toll-free in the USA at 877*266*5338 (bookfev) or outside the US at 209*274*6960. Reciprocal terms offered to the trade on direct orders only. Libraries and other institutions may request to be invoiced.
accepted by seller
Check Money Order PayPal Bank Draft