The Chalk Artist

Allegra Goodman. Dial, $27 (340p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6987-3
Goodman (The Cookbook Collector) probes the meaning and place of art in contemporary culture in her intricate and empathic novel. When artist and actor Collin is first drawn to Nina in a Harvard Square bar, he has no idea that the attractive young high school English teacher has no financial need to work at all. Her father is the head of Arkadia, a local gaming company at the leading edge of virtual reality technology. Convinced that Collin is squandering his talents, Nina encourages him to show his art to her father and his business partner, Nina’s cruelly perfectionist uncle. The novel then shifts its emotional focus to the struggles of one of Nina’s students and her increasingly troubled twin brother, who has become obsessed with Arkadia’s newest game. Exploring not only the varying ephemerality and permanence of both art and relationships, this richly textured novel also considers the commodification of art and art as a means to salvation. With its strong Boston setting, the novel also offers opportunities to consider the contrasts between local and virtual communities and the authenticity of the relationships each fosters. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 06/13/2017
Genre: Fiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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