THE ART OF SEEING

Cammie McGovern, Author
Cammie McGovern, Author . Scribner $24 (284p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2835-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-7432-3405-4
Paperback - 281 pages - 978-0-7432-2836-7
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This first novel, by the sister of movie actress Elizabeth McGovern, may be narrated by the sister of a movie actress, but it doesn't read like a roman à clef; the scenes around the movie sets on which Rozzie has become a star as a teenager are oddly muted and unrevealing, while the inner life of narrator Jemma carries the book. Jemma is alternately envious and anxious about Rozzie's celebrity, and when she begins to nourish ambitions of her own—as a photographer—she is tempted to use that celebrity to further her own career. The situation becomes even more emotionally complicated as Rozzie begins to go blind and her movie-star existence starts to crumble. McGovern has an effectively deadpan, rather oblique style and offers some trenchant psychological insights into sibling relationships, but the book's ever-shifting time frame makes it difficult to follow the progress of Rozzie's decline, and it seems preposterous that her growing blindness is for much of the time a well-kept secret. Jemma's photography, too, becomes enmeshed in improbable psychodrama as she replaces some of her pictures in her first-ever show at the last moment, armed with nothing but a screwdriver. The emphasis on visualization throughout the book is sometimes compelling, but the narrative framework on which it is hung is flimsy. 4-city author tour.(Aug. 13)

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