The Collector of Moments

Quint Buchholz, Author, Quint Buchholz, Illustrator, Peter F. Neumeyer, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (48p) ISBN 978-0-374-31520-7
Like its opening image of a seagull suspended at twilight and painted in sepia tones, this extraordinary volume honors the beauty inherent in a singular momentary experience. ""At dusk, when he couldn't draw anymore, Max used to sing,"" begins Buch-olz's (Sleep Well, Little Bear) poignant tale of an unusual friendship. Max is a painter, the self-proclaimed ""collector of moments."" The narrator, a boy, lives two floors down and plays the violin. At Max's invitation, he joins the artist every evening for an intimate concert. The boy often visits at other times, but the artist never permits the boy to view his work: ""One invisible and unique path leads into every picture... and the artist has to find just that one path. He can't show the picture too soon, or he might lose that path forever,"" Max explains. But when Max goes away for a stretch, both boy and readers are invited for a private showing of 13 breathtaking paintings. Many of the subjects are mythical: ""Snow elephants in Canada"" nearly invisible against blizzard-filled skies, a circus wagon floating above a bridge in France. Others, like Max's self-portrait, are realistic. But all the paintings, with their wide expanse of space, suggest a vast universe; in the words of the narrator, ""Max always captured a precise moment. But I understood that there was always a story attached to this moment which had begun long before and would continue long afterward."" The boy pores over each picture and instructs readers by his power of example. Only near the end of the book does the boy learn how much he has meant to Max--and his realization is transformative. With the same exquisite crafting that Bucholz exhibits in his paintings, he sculpts each section of prose--aided greatly by Neumeyer's fluid translation. Whether young or old, readers will never view a work of art in the same way again. All ages. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Hardcover - 48 pages - 978-7-5133-1589-0
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