Synopses & Reviews
As a child, Ann Rogers was her photographer father's mode. His daring pictures of her stunned the world. And they secretly, tragically shaped her life.
As a woman, Ann has married a handsome man, runs a New York City videotaping business, and appears successful, beautiful, and very lucky. But that image reflects only one part of her. The other is dark, erotic, and self-destructive.
Now, the seperate pieces of Ann Rogers are beginning to fall apart. A Museum of Modern Art retrospective of her father's most shocking work will expose Ann from the inside out, invading her privacy and her sexuality. It is enough to push Ann toward an irrevocable act and send her tumbling into a psychological nightmare...in a brilliant, provocative, edge-of-the-seat thriller that exposes more than Ann Rogers. It reveals the raw contradictions of our society and the freedom of art, our children and the sanctity of childhood, our values...and the insatiable voyeurism of today's world.
"Harrison's second novel (after Thicker Than Water ) is a mesmerizing depiction of a woman on the edge of emotional disintegration. Ann Rogers is a beautiful, chic, financially comfortable New Yorker with a career as a videographer of weddings and society functions, and a loving husband who restores landmark buildings. But Ann is addicted to speed, a drug which holds especially dangerous consequences for her, since she is a diabetic. Moreover, every time she does crystal meth, she compulsively shoplifts at Bergdorf's and Saks. Flashing back to Ann's Texas upbringing, Harrison gradually discloses the source of her deep neuroses. Her cold, monstrously selfish father extracted a bizarre kind of vengeance for her mother's death in childbirth. Edgar Rogers became famous for his photographs of a prepubescent and adolescent Ann, naked and assuming deathly poses. He committed suicide in 1979; now a retrospective of his work, including photos of Ann engaged in acts the memory of which she has tried to repress, is imminent at the MoMA. Demonstrating impressive control of the novel's structure and pacing, Harrison steadily deepens her sophisticated psychological portrait of Ann while elevating suspense and the reader's emotional involvement. The shocking circumstances of Ann's life become clear: she survived traumatic events by pathologically retreating into herself, but her subconscious erupts now and then in suicidal behavior. This unsparing picture of a woman spinning out of control is conveyed in luminous and tensile prose. The novel's larger theme, an indictment of a society "which encourages exploitation even as it punishes all who chronicle it," is eerily prescient, calling to mind the current controversy over photographer Sally Mann's nude pictures of her children. Harrowing but spellbinding, the novel has the impact of an unforgettably vivid image seared on the eye." Publishers Weekly
"A luminously intelligent novel." Boston Sunday Globe
"An exquisite, exhilarating, harrowing book." Donna Tartt
"Impossible to put down...powerful...highly readable...Kathryn Harrison is an extremely gifted writer, poetic, passionate, and elegant." San Francisco Chronicle
"Harrison (Thicker Than Water) is a remarkable storyteller with a clear, strong voice; she hooks the reader right from the start (as Ann tugs on a stolen skirt in a taxi) and shows, finally, that we are all products of our history. Compelling." Library Journal
"Stark, brilliant, and original work." Kirkus Review
About the Author
Kathryn Harrison's novels include Thicker than Water and The Seal Wife, and Poison, called "powerful and hypnotic" by The New York Times and "a masterpiece" by Lucy Grealy. Harrison lives in New York.