Brief Review 9/14/19 Event

Five on Fiction, Part One

Matthew Kirkpatrick reads first from his novel The Ambrose J. and Vivian T. Seagrave Museum of 20th Century American Art. Just in time for Spooky Month this new novel weaves family history, art curation and collection, and a non-corporeal love affair. In Saturday’s reading, Kirkpatrick introduces the premise of the work, and the characters with witty understatement. However difficult it is to read short excerpts from a novel in fifteen to twenty minutes, (perhaps it is a less daunting task to read from flash-fiction or short stories,) Kirkpatrick definitely made me want to read more.

Luckily for me, this text is on my reading list this fall for Community Outreach 550, with Prof. Hume. A second plus, I have the benefit of being a student of this author this fall in my Graduate Studies Creative Writing Workshop. You can bet I will be asking if he will sign my copy of his book!

One interesting detail about the form and structure of this text is the form of the Didactic. The fictitious donors, the Seagrave family, who are founders of the museum, lost their daughter Kendall Seagrave, on a nearby lake. So there is mystery and also profound loss. Kirkpatrick’s decision to utilize didactics allows the details of artistic process to become part of the narrative.

What are didactics, you might ask? In the world of museum curation and art collection, this genre is well-known.

Those small plaques, or labels in some museums, are posted adjacent to the art-work relaying a bite-sized informational profile about the art work. Usually the dates of creation, title, acquisition details and materials are part of this form.

I am one of those people who lean in close to read every word on the didactics, sometimes before experiencing the art work itself. Apparently Kirkpatrick, a devoted fan of abstract expressionism and contemporary art, especially of painters such as Mark Rothko, is also equally obsessed.

This device grounds a wide-parabola of topics and a gallery-sized story arc encompassing art, history, and a love affair with a disembodied entity (#ghost)

I am looking forward to reading The Ambrose J. and Vivian T. Seagrave Museum of 20th Century American Art and invite you to read it too. Your comments are welcome.

2 thoughts on “Brief Review 9/14/19 Event

  1. Joe Bishop

    Christina, while I was not able to attend this event, and even though I purchased this book (all of the ones on the list actually), I chose to read a different book for class (though I plan to read all of them when I have a chance). Your post, helps me understand the book a bit and the use of didactics and the form of the book sound very interesting. I really like your phrasing “Spooky Month” and appreciate your comment about the artistic process becoming part of the narrative which, as I understand the book, is implicit rather than explicit commentary to the reader as in breaking the 4th wall (or whatever the appropriate literature term for that would be)


    1. Christina-Marie Sears

      Hi Joe, thank you for your comment. I am interested in how literature can “break the 4th wall.” Because that idea comes from theatrical situation in a proscenium space, what is the literary equivalent? I suppose getting into the reader’s head and consciousness on a deep level. I would love to discuss this further with you at some point! Hopefully I will have a review of Hard Mouth up this week coming! Best, Christina


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