Starred Review in Booklist

Booklist has given a starred review to The Painting and the City.

At a friend’s party in Manhattan, sculptor Jacob Lerner sees an 1842 portrait of a young woman and quickly becomes obsessed with it. He sets a librarian friend searching for information about artist and subject, which eventuates in finding the painter’s journal of his New York sojourn for the commission. Philip Schuyler’s testimony (which appears in two separately paginated inserts in a different typeface) discloses that the painting is one of five that together constituted a threat to the subject. That threat is tangentially related to the commercial growth of Manhattan, another of Lerner’s obsessions and the motive behind a pair of installation pieces, one a dour vision of modern New York, the other a serener conception. As he sleuths the painting and builds the installations, Lerner has hallucinations in which, guided by a glass marionette, he observes scenes related to Schuyler’s and his subject’s fates, in which a not-quite-conspiracy of property owners, dating from Manhattan’s Dutch colonial days, is implicated. Seemingly informed by an artist’s eye and driven by its fantastic elements, this complex, enthralling novel is concerned with relations between art and commerce, and nature and commerce; the importance of the past; the everyday oppression of capitalism; and how art may shape history. —Ray Olson

So run over to the PS order page and get yee a copy or two.


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