Vanitas

Olshan, Joseph

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN 10: 0747536384 / ISBN 13: 9780747536383
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Synopsis: The pursuit of Eros, the yearning for intimacy, and the struggle to reconcile bisexuality with a longing for children -- these are the desires etched in the hearts of the characters of this brave and probing novel by the award-winning author of Clara's Heart and Nightswimmer.
The moment that Sam Solomon, the protagonist of Vanitas, is transfixed by an erotic drawing that hangs in the apartment of a dying art dealer, Elliot Garland, he finds himself caught in an under-tow of confusion and longing. Garland, stricken with AIDS, has hired Sam to write his memoirs and yet manages to withhold crucial information about his life. Sam suspects, however, that the drawing, called Vanitas, is the relic of a dramatic, and secret, history that could provide answers to the questions his subject has refused to address.
Vanitas explores the intersections between the disparate worlds of art and art restoration, publishing, and urban relationships, all of which are in the grip of an implacable epidemic. As Sam traverses the landscapes of disease, romance, and mystery, he is enveloped by a culture in which individuals make tenuous connections with one another as land mines explode all around them. And as he negotiates the hazards of the volatile allegiances and jealousies attendant to his own romantic entanglements, he finds himself face to face with a familiar existential dilemma -- the desire to raise a child despite society's condemnation of nontraditional families.
A brilliantly written story of the lonely, painful search for happiness in unconventional choices, Vanitas is a rare novel -- a daring orchestration of event and character that is a bold, hopeful, and accomplished piece of literature.

Review: In Joseph Olshan's Vanitas (the title refers to a conceit in Dutch art in which the painter would include a memento mori--Latin for "be mindful of dying"--in the midst of vibrant life scenes), the specter of AIDS is an unspoken, and often unacknowledged, motivator for protagonist Sam Solomon. While interviewing world-famed, but now very ill, art collector Elliot Garland in order to ghostwrite his autobiography, Solomon sees a stunning, highly sexual drawing of a near-naked young man on a bed cradling a skull. The picture startles Sam and sets him off on a journey--not only to discover the artist and subject, but into his own life to resolve his conflicting emotional needs: to find what he considers the security of heterosexual family life and yet pursue emotional and sexual relationships with men.

As in his popular, award-winning novels Clara's Heart and Nightswimmer, Olshan understands here how sadness, fear, and even death are the most common shapers of important emotional and erotic experiences. Vanitas is filled with hope and love, but avers that these life-affirming emotions are only achieved after facing the deepest horrors, fears, and terrors of living in the world. --Michael Bronski

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Vanitas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Very Good

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Olshan, Joseph
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (1998)
ISBN 10: 0747536384 ISBN 13: 9780747536383
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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. In VERY GOOD overall condition, with some signs of previous ownership. Daily dispatch from UK warehouse. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000008728

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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # FPS0747536384VG

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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Vanitas This book is in very good condition and will be shipped within 24 hours of ordering. The cover may have some limited signs of wear but the pages are clean, intact and the spine remains undamaged. This book has clearly been well maintained and looked after thus far. Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. . Bookseller Inventory # 7719-9780747536383

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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR004555971

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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Slightly dirty pages outside Appears unread, may have minor damage from transit/storage. Next day dispatch from the UK (Mon-Fri). Please contact us with any queries. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000441084

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Book Description Bloomsbury, London, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Fine. Reprint. Unread. Bookseller Inventory # 002331

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Book Description Bloomsbury, 1st edition, 1998, 1998. paperback, fine condition, 271pp. Author of Night Swimmer. Sam Cardamon is hired to write the memoirs of a dying art dealer, he sees a stunning erotic drawing and finds himself caught in a tide of confusion and longing. He visits an old girlfriend, a visit that awakens within him questions about his bisexuality. Bookseller Inventory # 979

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Book Description Bloomsbury, uncorrected proof copy, , 1998. paperback, card covers, fine condition, appears unread,uncorrected proof copy,271pp. Author of Night Swimmer. Sam Cardamon is hired to write the memoirs of a dying art dealer, he sees a stunning erotic drawing and finds himself caught in a tide of confusion and longing. He visits an old girlfriend, a visit that awakens within him questions about his bisexuality. Bookseller Inventory # 4161

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Book Description London; Bloomsbury;, 1998. First edition, first printing. Signed by the author. Fine paperback original. Bookseller Inventory # 11562

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