cover image Life Drawing

Life Drawing

Emily Arnold. Delacorte Press, $0 (277pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29437-9

""There's so much intelligence here and a search for truth,'' says a character describing a painting by the protagonist of Arnold's (A Craving second novelbut goes on to conclude that unfortunately the work is essentially lifeless. The same criticism can be made of the book itself. The story of young Miranda Geer, who knows early on that she is fated to be an artist, the narrative has many absorbing scenes and character portraits, but as a whole it lacks dramatic tension. The reader expects better after the electrifying opening, an hysterical confrontation between Miranda's parents. Miranda blames both of them for her unhappy childhood; later, however, she comes to see them as more pathetic than controlling. This insight, and a watershed discovery about her artistic talent, are the mainsprings of an intelligent, interesting but not riveting book. Frequently enlivened by acute turns of phrase bespeaking an artist's eye, it is all too often attenuated by Miranda's heavy introspection. (March 14)