Invictus.

William Ernest Henley, 1849 – 1903.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

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The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Walter Anderson was considered to be quite an odd person, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn’t much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some of his most brilliant watercolors, work he kept hidden during his lifetime. In a beautifully crafted picture book biography, writer Hester Bass and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis pay homage to an uncompromising American artist.

This book would make a wonderful addition to any art class, especially the classes that teach that “art is an adventure.” (Ms. Bass’s words.) “The Secret World of Walter Anderson” is just lovely. If you love art, artists, or nature, this book is for you.

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

The Secret World of Walter Anderson By Hester Bass (Author) and E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson

Art and Lies – A vague, and tantalizing title that fits right in with the obscurities of your local best little book store. A piece for three voices and a bawd as the subtitle suggests, the narrative swings between Handel, Picasso, Sappho, and the bawdy voice of one Doll Sneerpiece rising from her eighteenth century autobiography.

While the title tilts towards pretentiousness, the story has an interesting premise. Handel is both a ‘handle’ on the narrative, the composer and a modern day doctor of a guiltily unscientific mind; Sappho is the ancient Greek poet, hardly discernable from her modern day beat poet persona; Picasso is the brilliant, mad painter, and the daughter of a dysfunctional family.

Set in the new age of insensitivity and suffering, the three protagonists move swiftly in their confused attempts to salvage their humanity, their paths interweaving. The tangled threads make for an interesting sort of art which Winterson uses to explore the characters in their ex-religious, self-conscious logic, their alienation within their own homes, and their need to break through flesh to the spirit of something higher.

Don’t be put off by the determined use of drippy prose-poetry, or the chaotic placement of pointers within the story. The book makes for a quick, heady read, and while Winterson’s argument may not always stand up in-depth reading, her towering concept of philosophy of art gets a fair, entertaining, and honest treatment.

AJ
Gooblet

Art & Lies Jeanette Winterson