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Art on Fire Paperback – December 11, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bywater Books; 1ST edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612940315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612940311
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Art on Fire has won the following awards:

American Library Association Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award 2014
Ben Franklin Book Award Silver Medal Winner
Bywater Prize for Fiction
Golden Crown Literary Award
Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Indie Book Finalist
ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist

"Let this one seep into your mind and work its magic on you. It’s the superb craftsmanship of a master storyteller at work. " —Out in Print

"Art on Fire is alive with passion, humor, and real truth." —Lambda Literary Review

About the Author

Hilary Sloin makes her living as a freelance editor, handling all kinds of works. She's also been writing—fiction, essays and more—for years. Sloin says her two-way window into the process of writing has proven valuable. Editing other people's work has made her a better writer.


More About the Author

Hilary Sloin began her writing career as a playwright in the 80s. Her plays, which were mostly gay-themed and fairly subversive, were widely produced in the U.S. Lust and Pity was given main stage productions at the Westbank Café in NY, Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, Alice B. Theatre in Seattle, Bailiwick Theatre in Chicago, and others. Other plays were produced in LA and at Smith College and received readings in NY. After a time, she switched to essays and short fiction, publishing in many small journals and anthologies and attending a number of residencies. Art on Fire was her first attempt at a novel and it took a long time to write. It garnered many accolades, including the bizarre honor of being mistakenly awarded prizes for non-fiction; there were those in the industry who wanted to publish it, thinking it was a biography, which, crazy as it is, attests to the success of the book's intention. Sloin has recently completed a collection of short fiction entitled The Cure for Unhappiness and is currently at work on a manuscript about selling antiques, Pimpin' the Frontier. When she isn't writing she is usually refinishing or restoring antiques.

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
Wonderfully flawed eccentric characters developed through an engaging plot.
sallyb
Sloin interjects short chapters devoted to critiques of Francesca's paintings - a solid and very thoughtful way to explore the psyche of an artist.
Grady Harp
I felt like I knew the people in this book and miss reading about them now that I've finished.
Carol Glaser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Hilary Sloin has struck gold with this extraordinarily readable quasi biography that succeeds on so many levels - many of which are unique to the literary plate. Sloin has created a story about a girl, Francesca de Silva, who has struggled from early childhood with sibling rivalry (her mentally ill and intelligent wonder child sister Isabella writes poetry and has her work published at age 12!), with inconsequential and subjugating parenting, with a beautifully close relationship with a loving grandmother who is her Gilead until she discovers Francesca is lesbian (her love is Lisa Sinsong, a chess genius) and casts her out of her safe refuge. Francesca is left without family ties and seeks solace in living alone in a cabin in Massachusetts where while working days in a flea market she discovers that by night her attempts are creating art are surprisingly successful.

From there we follow the life and love of an artist in a most interesting manner. Sloin interjects short chapters devoted to critiques of Francesca's paintings - a solid and very thoughtful way to explore the psyche of an artist. The author in an interview explains the book best: `I fell in love first with Isabella, the protagonist's mentally ill and acutely intelligent sister. Isabella is so much smarter and wittier than I have ever proved to be and, of course, this fascinates me. How can I create a character who surpasses me by leaps and bounds? Soon I fell in love with Francesca, too, but that was for entirely different reasons: I had created my dream lover: a cowboy in girl's clothing, the one who cannot be possessed, who oozes with the need to express herself but cannot.
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By kim cotton on June 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a both sad and witty story about a flawed artist interspersed with critics' reviews of her work. I enjoyed both the story and the reviews. Very enjoyable read.
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By Merry on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
Provocative? Yes. Dark? Yes. Witty? Yes. Artfully composed? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! Molly Bloom says Yes and I say Yes too! Art on Fire is simply one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. It is obvious that Hilary Sloin has taken great delight in crafting her characters and the specific world in which they reside. At times I felt like I was experiencing a ventriloquist at her best, so in tune is Sloin with the rhythm and voices of her charges.
She offers the reader the combined genres of biography, art criticism, and scholarship, all in loving service to characters whose flaws and occasional shining facets reveal the utter doggedness of the human condition: Isabella and her clumsy efforts to die, Lisa Sinsong and her stubborn allegiance to her father, Evelyn and her conditional love and free floating racism. Sloin demonstrates an acute ability to make even the most tangential characters real and alive, whether it be a frantic man waiting for a call at a pay phone or a tender offer of assistance to Evelyn from her long-time grocer.
Equally impressive is Sloin's rendering of Francesca deSilva, at once present and absent. Sloin uses the painter's technique of negative space to define her. Francesca is a cipher, of sorts. She is most fully understood by Lisa Sinsong, and yet even in the fragile vessel they create, Lisa and Francesca remain unable to fully give and receive the love they most want and need and of which they are most terrified. Negative space remains.
Though Francesca is averse to taking on any label, as a reader I totally reveled in her butchyness, her dykeyness. Sex, cigarettes and solitude mark her external terrain; Sloin leaves Francesca's internal landscape for the reader to conjure, being sure to provide enough vivid details to guide the way.
Art on Fire is a book worthy of notice, so read it, pass it on, buy it for a friend who deserves something of quality in her life these days.
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By nperman on January 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book. I started reading and I couldn't put it down... it was starting to get light outside when I finished it,- stayed up all night... Great story told with insight, passion and humor. Art on Fire should be on the list of every reading group! Oprah take notice!
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By Diacritical(re)Mark on January 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
Sloin's brilliant sendup of the 1980s art world and criticism, this fictional biography of Francesca de Silva fairly snaps and crackles with freshness, intelligence and wry humor. A story about family as much as it is a satire about art and politics in the 80s, Sloin's portrait of the New Haven, Jewish-ish De Silvas recall Allegra Goodman's Family Markowitz. Older sister Isabella with her tormented brilliance and fascination with dead heroines makes a riveting character, and I confess a particular soft spot and admiration for Evelyn the Grandmother. The chapter in which she goes to the bakery in a state of dementia is out of this world brilliant, nuanced and riveting.That chapter alone gives Alice LaPlante a run for her money, and more.

Sloin's imaginative conceit, supported by the critical essays, works brilliantly, and I can see why Art of Fire erroneously won a non-fiction prize. Those essays --and their footnotes-- had so much delightful tongue in cheek in them down to the tiniest detail, I was constantly impressed, and laughing.

This novel is a breath of fresh air in the world of lesbian publishing. Kudos to Bywater and to Hilary Sloin for bringing something smart and new to the table.
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