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The Tattoo Artist

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The Tattoo Artist Cover

ISBN13: 9780375423253
ISBN10: 0375423257
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Jill Ciment's writing has been called "luminous...sad, affecting? (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) and "rich in observation and insight" (Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times).

Now in her new novel, her third, Jill Ciment turns her eye to a painter's world in the early years of the twentieth century and tells the story of an American woman, an acclaimed artist who's been stranded on an island for thirty years.

The novel opens in New York in the 1970s. Sara Ehrenreich has returned to New York to much fanfare — Life magazine has arranged for her return and is doing a big feature on her. Sara had been living on a remote speck in the South Pacific for three decades, and she has returned to the city of her childhood and early adulthood, a city made totally different by thirty years of technological and social change.

As Sara experiences all of the sensations of entering a new world, the novel flashes back to tell the story of her life, of herself at eighteen, a Lower East Side shopgirl meeting the man who changes the course of her life — Philip Ehrenreich, a banker's son and revolutionary, an avant-garde artist who hasn't made art in years.

Philip introduces Sara to everything from Dada to Marx, from free love to automatic drawing, from trayf to absinthe. Philip sees her art as his chance to create by proxy. They fall in love, marry, and form a collaboration, and by the late 1920s, she takes her place among a small group of famous American Modernists.

As the Depression hits and his family money and her corps of collectors vanish, Philip and Sara are forced to embrace the proletarian life that he had romanticized and that she had fled. In desperation, they sell what is left of his prized collection of Oceanic masks, and their lives are forever altered when one of Philip's patrons hires him to collect masks in the South Seas.

Sara and Philip book passage on a Japanese ship that drops them off on Ta'un'uu, an island famous both for its masks and its full-body tattooing. The ship that was to pick them up never returns, bewilderment turns into panic, then resignation, and, finally, to a peace neither husband nor wife has known before. When the Second World War breaks out months later and Philip and half the men of the island are killed by Japanese soldiers, Sara turns to her painting for salvation. She learns the art of tattooing and begins the painting that will be her masterpiece — the tattooing of her own body.

A beautifully written novel, powerful in its portrayal of the world it creates and the ideas it is taken up with — ideas of immortality through art, and of the here-and-now-ness of life and experience.

Review:

"Ciment's notable new novel (after Teeth of a Dog) narrates the vanguard life of a New York surrealist artist whose 30 years among South Pacific natives teaches her the sacred art of tattooing. Born at the turn of the century to Jewish immigrants, freethinking Sara escapes her seamstress job via Philip Ehrenreich, a banker's son turned Marxist revolutionary who moves her into his Greenwich Village flat and introduces her to the New York art scene. They make a fabulous avant-garde couple until the New York art world goes bust in the run-up to WWII, and they take off for the South Seas in search of native art. Marooned on the island of Tu'un'uu, the castaways find their love tested when the natives forcibly tattoo their faces. Eventually, with no hope of escape, tattooing each other with the gorgeous dyes becomes a mournful expression of love and loss. After Philip's untimely death, Sara becomes an elder craftsman of the religious art, rendering herself 'a piece of living tapestry.' Three decades later Sara returns to New York after a roving Life magazine reporter discovers her on the island and photographs her, revealing her curious life's work to the world. Though historically fantastic, Ciment's latest is poignant and anthropologically intriguing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[B]reathtaking — not a word is out of place." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"[A] powerful allegory of the 20th century....A great deal of the brilliance of The Tattoo Artist lies in its magpie collecting of 20th century types." Newsday

Review:

"Despite its ambitious range, The Tattoo Artist is only intermittently convincing....The evocations of Ta'un'uuan life and art have a tactile and visual specificity too often missing from Ciment's generic account of Sara's life in Manhattan." New York Times

Review:

"Ciment covers cross-cultural terrain, creating a remarkably smart and edgy tale laced with sharp insights into time and change, the nature of the self and the significance of art, folly and survival." Booklist

Review:

"Clever and complex, the narrative probes how personal stories and symbolism are represented in — or, in this case, on — the self." Library Journal

Review:

"A curious work that moves back and forth in time and place. Somewhat far-fetched and slender, but unique and weirdly imaginative." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

From the author of The Law of Falling Bodies comes a wildly original work about an acclaimed American painter who is brought back to New York after spending 30 years living on a Pacific island.

Synopsis:

Jill Ciments writing has been called “luminous . . . sad, affecting” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) and “rich in observation and insight” (Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times).

Now in her new novel, her third, Jill Ciment turns her eye to a painters world in the early years of the twentieth century and tells the story of an American woman, an acclaimed artist whos been stranded on an island for thirty years.

The novel opens in New York in the 1970s. Sara Ehrenreich has returned to New York to much fanfareLife magazine has arranged for her return and is doing a big feature on her. Sara had been living on a remote speck in the South Pacific for three decades, and she has returned to the city of her childhood and early adulthood, a city made totally different by thirty years of technological and social change.

As Sara experiences all of the sensations of entering a new world, the novel flashes back to tell the story of her life, of herself at eighteen, a Lower East Side shopgirl meeting the man who changes the course of her lifePhilip Ehrenreich, a bankers son and revolutionary, an avant-garde artist who

hasnt made art in years.

Philip introduces Sara to everything from Dada to Marx, from free love to automatic drawing, from trayf to absinthe. Philip sees her art as his chance to create by proxy. They fall in love, marry, and form a collaboration, and by the late 1920s, she takes her place among a small group of famous American Modernists.

As the Depression hits and his family money and her corps of collectors vanish, Philip and Sara are forced to embrace the proletarian life that he had romanticized and that she had fled. In desperation, they sell what is left of his prized collection of Oceanic masks, and their lives are forever altered when one of Philips patrons hires him to collect masks in the South Seas.

Sara and Philip book passage on a Japanese ship that drops them off on Taunuu, an island famous both for its masks and its full-body tattooing. The ship that was to pick them up never returns, bewilderment turns into panic, then resignation, and, finally, to a peace neither husband nor wife has known before. When the Second World War breaks out months later and Philip and half the men of the island are killed by Japanese soldiers, Sara turns to her painting for salvation. She learns the art of tattooing and begins the painting that will be her masterpiecethe tattooing of her own body.

A beautifully written novel, powerful in its portrayal of the world it creates and the ideas it is taken up withideas of immortality through art, and of the here-and-now-ness of life and experience.

About the Author

Jill Ciment was born in Montreal, Canada. Her books include two novels, Teeth of the Dog and The Law of Falling Bodies; a collection of short stories, Small Claims; and a memoir, Half a Life. She has been awarded two New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowships and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Ciment is a professor of English at the University of Florida. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

michele26, June 29, 2008 (view all comments by michele26)
One should not be fooled by the hype surrounding this book, as there is nothing "luminous," "magnificent," "rich," or "riveting" about it except for the idea, which CIment fails to develop. The novel begins with an all too lengthy backstory of the protagonist Sara, her family, and their Jewish roots and plight. Sara's backstory would've been an interesting enhancment to the developing of her story if the novel's premise was that of a Jewish story, but it's not, and because it's not a Jewish story per we are left to wonder why we need this information. For instance, Ciment spends pages discussing Sara's fathers loss of spirituality, which is interesting, but we are left wondering how this affects and impacts Sara. If dad's loss of spirituality has zero impact on Sara then why are we being told this information? However the character about whom e we receive the most useless informtion is Sara's boyfriend/lover Paul, an all too typical avant garde artist, who is terribly cliched and who adds nothing to the novel except infinite platitudes and hackneyed perspectives on art. When we finally arrive on the island, the heart and soul of the story, a place I hoped to linger for pages and pages, Ciment yanks us off the island as quickly as she puts us there--in some way, it seems all too easy for Sara, the hip avant garde New Yorker, to adapt to the ways of the islands indigineous people. leaving us to wonder whether she actually feels or thinks anything. When LIfe magazine arrives and takes Sara back home, the novel suffers its greatest disconnect: Why is Sara going home? Other than seeing people snickering at her and whispering that she will not have a Jewish burial--why Sara needs to overhear this statement is mystifying as she renounced her religious beliefs 35 years ago--not much else happens in New York.
Overall, Ciment's novel fails to deliver a cohesive and fully developed story because it appears her own artistic agenda was unclear. If you are interested in reading about typical and hackneyed characters who have no depth or breadth, then this novel is for you; however, if you like finely woven tales that allow you to tumble into the world of the characters don't bother with this book, as it will leave you very frustrated.
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(5 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375423253
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Ciment, Jill
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Islands
Subject:
Women artists
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20050823
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.92x6.26x.82 in. .80 lbs.

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The Tattoo Artist Used Hardcover
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Product details 224 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375423253 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Ciment's notable new novel (after Teeth of a Dog) narrates the vanguard life of a New York surrealist artist whose 30 years among South Pacific natives teaches her the sacred art of tattooing. Born at the turn of the century to Jewish immigrants, freethinking Sara escapes her seamstress job via Philip Ehrenreich, a banker's son turned Marxist revolutionary who moves her into his Greenwich Village flat and introduces her to the New York art scene. They make a fabulous avant-garde couple until the New York art world goes bust in the run-up to WWII, and they take off for the South Seas in search of native art. Marooned on the island of Tu'un'uu, the castaways find their love tested when the natives forcibly tattoo their faces. Eventually, with no hope of escape, tattooing each other with the gorgeous dyes becomes a mournful expression of love and loss. After Philip's untimely death, Sara becomes an elder craftsman of the religious art, rendering herself 'a piece of living tapestry.' Three decades later Sara returns to New York after a roving Life magazine reporter discovers her on the island and photographs her, revealing her curious life's work to the world. Though historically fantastic, Ciment's latest is poignant and anthropologically intriguing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[B]reathtaking — not a word is out of place."
"Review" by , "[A] powerful allegory of the 20th century....A great deal of the brilliance of The Tattoo Artist lies in its magpie collecting of 20th century types."
"Review" by , "Despite its ambitious range, The Tattoo Artist is only intermittently convincing....The evocations of Ta'un'uuan life and art have a tactile and visual specificity too often missing from Ciment's generic account of Sara's life in Manhattan."
"Review" by , "Ciment covers cross-cultural terrain, creating a remarkably smart and edgy tale laced with sharp insights into time and change, the nature of the self and the significance of art, folly and survival."
"Review" by , "Clever and complex, the narrative probes how personal stories and symbolism are represented in — or, in this case, on — the self."
"Review" by , "A curious work that moves back and forth in time and place. Somewhat far-fetched and slender, but unique and weirdly imaginative."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of The Law of Falling Bodies comes a wildly original work about an acclaimed American painter who is brought back to New York after spending 30 years living on a Pacific island.
"Synopsis" by , Jill Ciments writing has been called “luminous . . . sad, affecting” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times) and “rich in observation and insight” (Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times).

Now in her new novel, her third, Jill Ciment turns her eye to a painters world in the early years of the twentieth century and tells the story of an American woman, an acclaimed artist whos been stranded on an island for thirty years.

The novel opens in New York in the 1970s. Sara Ehrenreich has returned to New York to much fanfareLife magazine has arranged for her return and is doing a big feature on her. Sara had been living on a remote speck in the South Pacific for three decades, and she has returned to the city of her childhood and early adulthood, a city made totally different by thirty years of technological and social change.

As Sara experiences all of the sensations of entering a new world, the novel flashes back to tell the story of her life, of herself at eighteen, a Lower East Side shopgirl meeting the man who changes the course of her lifePhilip Ehrenreich, a bankers son and revolutionary, an avant-garde artist who

hasnt made art in years.

Philip introduces Sara to everything from Dada to Marx, from free love to automatic drawing, from trayf to absinthe. Philip sees her art as his chance to create by proxy. They fall in love, marry, and form a collaboration, and by the late 1920s, she takes her place among a small group of famous American Modernists.

As the Depression hits and his family money and her corps of collectors vanish, Philip and Sara are forced to embrace the proletarian life that he had romanticized and that she had fled. In desperation, they sell what is left of his prized collection of Oceanic masks, and their lives are forever altered when one of Philips patrons hires him to collect masks in the South Seas.

Sara and Philip book passage on a Japanese ship that drops them off on Taunuu, an island famous both for its masks and its full-body tattooing. The ship that was to pick them up never returns, bewilderment turns into panic, then resignation, and, finally, to a peace neither husband nor wife has known before. When the Second World War breaks out months later and Philip and half the men of the island are killed by Japanese soldiers, Sara turns to her painting for salvation. She learns the art of tattooing and begins the painting that will be her masterpiecethe tattooing of her own body.

A beautifully written novel, powerful in its portrayal of the world it creates and the ideas it is taken up withideas of immortality through art, and of the here-and-now-ness of life and experience.

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