Art Is Everything

Yxta Maya Murray. Triquarterly, $18.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-8101-4292-3
Murray (The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Kidnapped) offers a fascinating if uneven portrait of a Latinx artist as she struggles to balance life and art. The narrative takes the form of a shifting series of Wikipedia entries, snippets of confessional autobiography, blog entries, Snapchats, Instagram posts, marketing copy, and unpublished Yelp reviews as Los Angeles performance artist Amanda Ruiz navigates identity, the difficulties of making art as a marginalized woman, and a desire for love. She falls for Xochitl, a practical and well-paid actuary, but their relationship implodes when Xochitl announces she wants to have a baby and Amanda refuses to give up her art, a force in her life that “can strengthen the cortisol-flooded heart but also crack it wide open.” She then meets lawyer Brandon Chu, and the two fall in love, but when Amanda is sexually assaulted by a gallery owner who’d offered her a show, she falls apart. In the post-assault fallout, Brandon leaves her and she stops making art. While long passages of art criticism serve only to restate themes evident in the primary narrative, such as the art world’s white hegemony, Amanda’s story feels immediate. Murray’s attempt to challenge traditional narrative structure along with definitions of sexuality and art takes on a bit too much. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/11/2020
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-8101-4293-0
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