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Original Essays | July 22, 2014

Nick Harkaway: IMG The Florist-Assassins



The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Tigerman

    Nick Harkaway 9780385352413

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Customer Comments

artisansworks has commented on (3) products.

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
A Three Dog Life

artisansworks, September 22, 2007

Three Dog Life is a gem, a memoir recounting how the author deals with that one moment in life when everything changes. Anyone who writes, even casually, should read this book for a lesson in fine writing. Thomas writes her story, truly a love story, with elegant clarity and tenderness, and not an ounce of sap.
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(4 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)



The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art by Greg Bottoms
The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art

artisansworks, May 5, 2007

After reading The Colorful Apocalypse a second time, I feel compelled to comment again.

Essentially, The Colorful Apocalypse is the epitome of vanity publishing. Compelled by his own ghosts, Gregory Bottoms sets out to prove the link between madness and the art of Christian ecstasy. He admits in the prologue of the book that he has a preoccupation with this link for personal reasons; but it is in fact an obsession.

He enters the life and work of a number of visionary artists, including Norbert Kox, William Thomas Thompson and Howard Finster. It is clear from dialogue in the book that he was not honest with the artists about his intent, but presented himself as a published author, a professor from the University of Vermont, who had an interest in visionary or outsider art.

While a responsible author or journalist might have a hypothesis, they understand the need to be objective and to deal with fact. Bottoms, on the other hand, is welcomed into lives, introduced to family, and given time by these artists, and then he goes back to his motel, picks up his copy of DSM-IV, an encyclopedia of mental illness, to diagnose
what he perceives as their disease. Throughout the book Bottoms quotes such sources as
The Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Surviving Schizophrenia, Auden?s The Prolific and the Devourer, Schizophrenia and Art, etc. Clearly, Bottoms had a game plan.

According to Bottoms, anyone hearing a voice, seeing a vision ? anyone having a dream carrying a message or finding a reality outside the ?norm? is ill. If that is so, Moses, Christ, all of the disciples and saints, innumerable artists, musicians, writers and poets are insane. Neruda would have to be locked up; Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be certifiable; and Faulkner should have been protected from himself.

Another incredibly evident bias is the author?s distaste of the South. While he admits Southern roots, he paints a picture of the cracker barrel South equating it with ignorance, religion in the South as prehistoric and deluded. He chooses quotes that spin the openness and charm of Southerners into an arrogant foundation for the prejudices that exist, and then takes pot shots at his subjects calling them prejudiced. It is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black.

This is not an honest book. While I object to the slant he has put on each artist, my real outrage comes because Visionary Artist?s in this country are part of our soul. While Bottoms discounts the importance of this book, it will become a part of history. When the work of these artists is sitting in the Smithsonian or in other museums, historians will look to his book for information on the artists. In that light, what Bottoms has done is more than vanity, it is unforgivable.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)



The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art by Greg Bottoms
The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art

artisansworks, April 18, 2007

It seems to me that anyone buying this book would have an interest in Outsider Art, Apocalyptic Art, want an accurate inside on who the artists are (and why they are driven) OR a view of the art itself. Unfortunately, this book offers none of the above. If however, the reader is interested in the author’s travels and his perception of art he doesn’t quite understand, the book might be worth the read.

It is clear from previous reviews that there are disputes between the author and the artists:
The artists disputing what the author is calling fact and the author feeling victimized because he is being questioned. In my mind, the controversy is much more revealing than the book.

While industry reviews portray The Colorful Apocalypse as having biographical portraits of the artists, I found instead sweeping generalizations that were highly colored by the author. For instance, in the book William Thomas Thompson is portrayed as a right-wing, anti-Semitic fundamentalist. This may be the author’s impression, but to anyone having any familiarity with the complexity of Thompson’s work or journals, it is simply not true.

The Colorful Apocalypse is perhaps aptly titled. It is colored, and it is an apocalypse.
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(5 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)



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