The Center of the World

Thomas Van Essen. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-59051-549-5
Van Essen’s debut novel departs from the recent real-life discovery of maritime landscapist J.M.W. Turner’s erotica to trace a fictional portrait by the painter of a scantily clad Helen of Troy awaiting Paris. Van Essen begins with art critic John Ruskin’s legendary destruction of Turner’s scandalous output before flashing back to the portrait’s origins in an after-dinner conversation between Turner and his patron, Lord Egremont. Flash forward to modern-day art dealer Arthur Bryce as he pursues the once-infamous, now-invaluable painting. Another flashback, to the early 20th century, finds wealthy American Cornelius Rhinebeck transporting the painting of Helen from England to his Adirondack lodge, where it remains hidden until middle-aged Henry Leiden encounters it while sorting through his deceased father’s belongings. All who meet Turner’s Helen see simultaneously truth, beauty, and the impetus for sin. With the painting’s journey, newcomer Van Essen demonstrates a flair for dialogue and an appreciation for how art moves the human heart. Agent: Chris Calhoun, the Chris Calhoun Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 06/04/2013
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 193 pages - 978-1-59051-550-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4708-8146-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4708-8147-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4708-8148-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-4708-8144-3
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