Heather Rose’ The Museum of Modern Love is a mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection – a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present.
One of our dozen Top Aussie Reads of 2016
The Museum of Modern Love Synopsis
Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.
This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.
Genre: Literature, Drama
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With no previous exposure to Heather Rose’s award-winning writing, The Museum of Modern Love‘s visually assertive cover art and artistic premise, was enough to capture my interest pre-release.
There is an optimal time/place/mood for every book to be read, but this one more than most. Heather Rose’s wonderful languorous prose and omnipotent narrative are best engaged with while open to quiet contemplation.
Every hour of the day an artist falls to earth and we fall beside them. I fell a long time ago with Arky Levin. But I fell before that beside Marina Abramovic.
This viewpoint of the muse is unerringly patient but anti-censorious, willing the objects of their attention to harness the energy from and respond to life changing events, rather than avoiding that which saddens them.
A moving story of love
Rose takes her readers on a similarly moving journey while witnessing the transformation of her characters. The message that reverberates throughout is for there to exist great sadness or loss there must also be great love to be experienced, celebrated or admired.
This highly literary work is presented in parts, and one of its many treats for readers are the powerful and iconic quotes Rose shares at the beginning of each — from Stella Adler’s ‘Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one‘ to Pablo Picasso’s ‘Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone‘.
In addition to the journey of the individual, Rose reminds us of the gravity of shared experiences and the profound and lasting impacts even the most fleeting of human interactions can have if we remain open to them.
Just like any art form, not everyone will connect with The Museum of Modern Love, but it left a lasting impression on me.
UPDATE: This title is the deserving winner of the 2017 Stella Prize, the judges describing it as exceptional. It has since also won the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the cover art designed by Sandy Cull won Best Designed Literary Fiction Book, ABDA Book Design Awards 2017.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5
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UPDATE: We have since also had the pleasure of reading Heather Rose’ new novel Bruny (2019).
About the Author, Heather Rose
The Museum of Modern Love is Heather Rose’s 7th novel. Her novels span adult literary fiction, children’s literature, fantasy/sci-fi and crime. Heather’s previous novels are White Heart (1999), The Butterfly Man (2005) and The River Wife (2009). Heather also writes the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children (written under the pen-name of Angelica Banks with fellow-author Danielle Wood and published internationally). The series is Finding Serendipity (2013) A Week Without Tuesday (2015) and Blueberry Pancakes Forever (2016). Heather won the Davitt Award in 2006 and her work has been shortlisted for the Nita B Kibble Award and the Aurealis Awards, and longlisted for the IMPAC Awards. She is also a recipient of the international Eleanor Dark Fellowship.
Heather was the inaugural Writer in Residence at The Museum of Old and New Art (MoNA) in Hobart 2012-13 where she did much of the research for this novel. In this video, Heather Rose in conversation with Sue Saxon, discusses that experience. Heather is currently studying Fine Arts at UTAS.
* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.