Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Self-Portraits: Fictions by Frederic Tuten

book cover

Self-Portraits: Fictions
by Frederic Tuten

ISBN-13: 978-0-393-07905-0
Hardback: 232 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Released: Sept. 2010

Source: Unrequested review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Book Cover:
In these glittering, interrelated stories, a young boy barters with pirates for his grandmother’s soul; Death appears as a genial waiter in a bar across from the Metropolitan Museum; an ominous man interferes with honeymooners at a bullfight; an estranged couple glimpse God on a cliff on Old Mountain in Tangiers; a lonely man lectures circus bears on the history of art; miniature glaciers tumble from a refrigerator in an East Village apartment, heralding a voyage to Antarctica on a frozen schooner anchored in Tompkins Square Park; and two lovers meet, part, and reunite time and again in different guises, ages, and landscapes both familiar and exotic.

Love, and its mystery, is at the core of these tales, but love also for art, for adventure, and for the passion of being alive. Throughout Self Portraits the author appears as hero, bystander, artist, and ghost, revealing an enchanting autobiography of the imagination.

Self-Portraits: Fictions is a book of 12 short literary stories by Frederic Tuten. Each story shifted around in time and place and between reality and fantasy with no warning, so it was hard to tell what was going on (especially for a linear thinker like me). The characters tended to say philosophical-sounding things, so I had the feeling that there was supposed to be some deeper meaning to it all. However, I couldn't make sense of it so I decided to simply read it as a series of quirky tales. While I liked the author's writing, I'm not a good match for his style.

There was a very minor amount of bad language. Sex was implied. Overall, I think that if the story descriptions sound appealing to you, you'll probably enjoy the book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Voyagers
Enriching, travel was. Deepening my conviction that there was little to live for, little reason to live, less to be born. I thought I would tell her that before we finished our dinner and left separately for the night.

A black gondola, minus the oarsman, was skimming toward her; some inches away, separated by blue molding, Vesuvius showered smoke and flaming embers over her head. She seemed in a low mood, but I had thought that of her many times before and was often shown wrong. She was sometimes just in no mood for me, for my accustomed face. I did not blame her. So large a world, so many fresh faces to consider.

"Listen," she said.

I had traversed many deserts and arid places: the Empty Quadrant, the Sahara, the Gobi, the Mojave, the Sands of Dreams, the Wastes of Longing.

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