cover image Bold Ventures: Thirteen Tales of Architectural Tragedy

Bold Ventures: Thirteen Tales of Architectural Tragedy

Charlotte Van den Broeck, trans. from the Dutch by David McKay. Other Press, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63542-317-4

In this gorgeous and roving debut, Belgian poet Van den Broeck (Chameleon) recounts her odyssey researching the lives of 13 architects who all died by suicide, some under mysterious circumstances. Whether from stress, public pressure, flaw in design, or a fatal passion, the reasons for each death remain unknown, and Van den Broeck’s search for the truth carries her across Europe and into centuries past. While musing on Gaston Eysselinck’s (1907–1953) post office building in Ostend, Van den Broeck reveals that the Belgian architect’s “unyielding nature” and “insistence on having his own way” resulted in his expulsion and permanent ban from entering the building site in June 1953 (six months later, Eysselinck would die). She also details how British military engineer William Skinner’s “tale of suicide”—used as a lure to attract tourists to the 18th-century Scottish fortress Fort George—“perpetuates the idea that architects who fail commit suicide.” Seeking to find “the line between creator and creation,” Van den Broeck’s exploration extends beyond the lives and works of her subjects, turning into both a philosophical meditation on creativity and a brilliant character study of misunderstood artists. The result is a genre-bending work that’s sure to fascinate those interested in art and architecture, as well as anyone curious about the dangerous mechanisms of the creative mind. (Sept.)