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Portrait of the Artist, as an Old Manby Joseph Heller
Synopses & Reviews
Imagine that the novelist — his name here is Eugene Pota — realizes that the days are dwindling and he needs to come up with one more novel. But what should he write? That first novel, the one that launched him, the one that made him into the cultural icon he seems fated to remain, has become a touchstone for his life, and his life since has pretty much been a critical failure. And now, when he is faced with the compulsion to write one more novel, to take a stab at the even bigger one, what should it be?
Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man follows the journey that Eugene Pota undertakes as he sifts through the detritus of his life in an effort to settle on a subject for his final work. He talks to everyone, including his wife, his old lovers, and his editor. While everyone has ideas, no one offers any real answers. Written with sections that alternate between Pota's real-life efforts to settle on what novel to write and his many and various false starts writing that novel, Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man is a rare and enthralling look into the artist's search for creativity.
"Warmly engrossing." Chicago Sun-Times
"A fascinating look at the creative life of one of the most important writers of American postwar literature." Steven Moore, The Washington Post Book World
"A novel of dramatic candor and courage...very entertaining." Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun
"[Heller's] impish pleasure in satirizing himself and literary ambition reveals not sorrow and dissatisfaction but delight in the joys of both writing and life." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"[A] moderate success....As you read this book, you might imagine Heller laughing his way hugely through it....[I]n some ways this book is...a posthumous piece of caustic self-parody. But it is also...one last muted hurrah from a writer who knows his place in the authorial Hall of Fame was never really in doubt." Tim Adams, The Guardian (U.K.)
About the Author
Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time (the sequel to Catch-22), and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in December 1999.
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