Art Does (Not!) Exist

Roaslyn Drexler, Author, Roslyn Drexler, Author, Rosalyn Drexler, Author F2c $21.95 (187p) ISBN 978-0-932511-98-0
A portrait of the starving video artist as a young Manhattan woman is the focus of this undisciplined comic novel from Drexler (Bad Guy, 1982). Julia Maraini is a vidcam-ready hipster who tells her tale in an effort to decide which project she'll submit for an NEA grant. Her personal problems inform both the narrative and her art, and she has plenty to choose from: a problematic relationship with her estranged, ""nutty"" husband, some disturbing dealings with her lecherous landlord and a series of odd misadventures with strange denizens of the New York art world. Drexler has a fine ear for dialogue, and several scenes are laced with dark, ironic humor. Her prose is lively, incorporating various techniques and forms: Q&As, miniplays and passages of dialogue set out in play form, plus a wry running commentary about the plot and the relationships between art, love and economics. But neither the humor nor the experimentation compensate for the yawning absence of a traditional plot; also missing is a sympathetic protagonist, as Julia's complaints about the difficulty of making a living as an artist wear thin awfully fast. Ultimately, both she and her story seem as slack and self-absorbed as the world Drexler attempts to satirize. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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