cover image Feast Your Eyes

Feast Your Eyes

Myla Goldberg. Scribner, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9784-0

Goldberg (Bee Season) evocatively profiles a brilliant woman whose identities—as woman, artist, and mother—are inseparable from one another. Aspiring photographer Lillian Preston moves from Cleveland to New York for college and spends her first few months there pining over her crush who left home to fight in the Korean War. Soon, however, Lillian turns her camera toward documenting Brooklyn’s streets and denizens—and, almost in desperation as a single mother in thrall to the demands of a young child, the minutiae of her life with her daughter, Samantha. When her first big break—a solo exhibition at a woman-owned gallery—garners more notoriety than fame (her nude photographs of her daughter, which form much of the exhibit, are labeled as obscene), Lillian comes to realize that her own ambition may come at the expense of Samantha’s innocence and their relationship as mother and daughter. Set in a pre–Roe v. Wade America, Goldberg’s novel highlights the ways in which things have and have not changed for women artists. The book’s combination of voices (composed largely of the adult Samantha’s photographic descriptions and contextual narratives, excerpts from Lillian’s journals, and letters between Lillian and friends) serves to construct, appropriately, a curated version of Lillian. This is a memorable portrait of one artist’s life. (Apr.)