Book Review - The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

Ben1976 By Ben1976, 13th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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A book review for The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

Book Review

The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

Sphere Publishing – ISBN 9780751540284

‘The Brutal Art’ is the young writer Jesse Kellerman’s third novel and is initially concerned about Ethan Muller, a young, successful Art dealer, who’s life is about to be turned upside down by brilliant art, created by a tenant from a slum who has mysteriously disappeared.

Coming from a rich, successful family Ethan has had the best education, which he squandered rebelling against his estranged father, who has been distant from his youngest son since the death of Ethan’s mother when he was only 5 years old. Ethan finds himself, at the tail end of his twenties running a well-regarded art gallery, when he has a call from Tony, his Father’s business manager asking him to see some paintings that he has found.

The paintings are very special, and Ethan knows their worth, both to the art world, and to his standing within the arts world, but in taking on the art, he also takes on the life of the artist, and a number of loose ends which effect both the artist, and his own twisted family history.

The launch of the exhibition goes very well, with a number of millionaire’s buying pieces from the collection, but it is at the cost of breaking up the pieces, which form the biggest collage known in the art world, with thousands of pieces of artist’s paper forming one piece of art, featuring images taken from mythology and fable, as well as from pop culture, and the newspapers that shadow the time at which the art was created.

The artist Victor Cracke is shown to be a loner, and is socially awkward, although as Ethan discovers, none of the other tenants within the same flats can describe him, and what he did. All of their descriptions contradict each other, and his diaries and journals which were found at the same time as the art show that he was very much a man of habit. He makes notes of what he eats, which never changes, and he also makes a note of the weather.

Ethan’s investigations into the life of Victor bring him into contact with the police, most noticeably Lee Mcgrath, a man of ill-health who has an interest in the murders of five boys, the five boys who are featured in the centre of the picture, and who it is thought, Victor played a part in the deaths of.

In meeting McGrath, Ethan also meets Sam, his daughter, and an officer with the DA who’s research helps Ethan discovers the truth about Victor. The investigation takes over Ethan’s life, and costs him his relationship with both Sam, and Marilyn, a long-standing relationship that evolved out of their involvement with many of the same artists. In fact, Ethan loses many of his clients, and future work to Marilyn, when he starts spending more time with Victor Cracke’s work, although this work is very lucrative, and has helped to put Ethan on the map of the art world.

The book’s narrative structure changes from the past to the present, and looks at the links between Ethan’s life and Victor’s, whose lives are tightly interlinked, as the denouement of the book indicates.

The book has an energy and a pace that aids the story, and the youth of its main protagonist, and although the investigation of the murders, and the art is at the centre of the story, there are also a number of other threads that weave in and out and make this book something a literary tapestry.


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author avatar Ben1976
I am a reviewer of films, books. and music, with a wide range of interests. I am hoping to add a page a day.

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