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Exposure: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Kathryn Harrison
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Book Description

“Luminous and affecting . . . [Exposure] examines the often fine line between art and abuse. . . . Taut in plot, beautifully realistic, and intelligently disturbing.”
–Harper’s Bazaar

Ann Rogers appears to be a happily married, successful young woman. A talented photographer, she creates happy memories for others, videotaping weddings, splicing together scenes of smiling faces, editing out awkward moments. But she cannot edit her own memories so easily–images of a childhood spent as her father’s model and muse, the subject of his celebrated series of controversial photographs. To cope, Ann slips into a secret life of shame and vice. But when the Museum of Modern Art announces a retrospective of her father’s shocking portraits, Ann finds herself teetering on the edge of self-destruction, desperately trying to escape the psychological maelstrom that threatens to consume her.

“Astounding . . . told in prose as multifaceted as a diamond, crystalline and mesmerizing. ‘Remarkable’ hardly goes far enough.”

“Impossible to put down . . . Kathryn Harrison is an extremely gifted writer, poetic, passionate, and elegant.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Exquisite, exhilarating, and harrowing.”
–Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History and The Little Friend

“A breathless urban nightmare not easy to forget. Stark, brilliant, and original work.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. BOMC featured alternate.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ann Rogers seems successful--she's happily married and a partner in a thriving videography business--but she's also a diabetic hooked on speed and a compulsive shoplifter at some of New York's best stores. While she skillfully videotapes and edits other people's celebrations and turns them into happy memories, she is unable to face her own past. Her life spins farther out of control at the approach of a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art of the work of her father, a noted photographer whose model was prepubescent Ann, posed as if dead or caught in sexually explicit situations. Harrison ( Thicker Than Water, LJ 3/15/91) 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. BOMC featured alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/91.
- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 506 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (April 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004T3D1W8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,393 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Writing But Painful Reading! August 30, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Outwardly, Ann Rogers seems to be a young woman who has much to be happy about. She is extremely intelligent and perceptive, artistically talented, and if overly thin, she is still quite attractive with her waist-long red gold hair and chiseled features. She has a wonderful husband, Carl, who loves her very much, despite her sometimes bizarre behavior. And she co-owns a successful videotaping business, recording and editing the life celebrations of others - turning them into perfect events in her workshop.

In reality, Ann Rogers is seriously ill, both physically and mentally. As a girl she was diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus. She never followed doctors' instructions properly, behaving irresponsibly about eating regularly, testing blood sugar and injecting insulin. It was if she had a death wish. She certainly learned early on the consequences of her behavior. Her guardians, her father and maternal aunt, didn't monitor her as they should have. They were deemed negligent by Ann's doctor, causing an investigation by Child Protection Services when the adolescent girl was rushed to the hospital with severe insulin shock. It was not the first time such an emergency occurred. As an adult, Ann, if anything, has become even less responsible about caring for herself. Along with her potentially lethal carelessness, she exacerbates her poor health with an addiction to crystal meth - speed. She has been warned about the dangers of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes which occurs when small blood vessels in the retina become swollen, or tiny new blood vessels start to grow and block the retina causing the complete loss of sight. Taking drugs, especially speed, is part of a continuing pattern demonstrating Ann's lack of concern for her life.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite and painstakingly beautiful October 5, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Exposure" is a magnificent novel about a woman who is headed on a downward spiral of self-destruction. On the outside, Ann Rogers appears to have it all. At the age of 33, she co-owns a successful video production company. She has plenty of money, a wonderful husband, and strikingly good looks. On the inside, however, Ann is a mess. She's a diabetic and frequently fails to follow her strict insulin regimen, causing herself to go into insulin shock. Ann's secret addiction to crystal meth only makes matters worse, causing more severe symptoms of the diabetes and even forcing Ann to undergo several frightening eye surgeries. On top of all that, every time Ann does crystal meth, she has the urge to shoplift. All in all, she's a mess.

There's much more to Ann's story than what meets the eye. She is the daughter of Edgar Rogers, a famous photographer who committed suicide 15 years ago. Edgar frequently used Ann as his model, and many of the photographs featured his pre-adolescent daughter in sexually explicit poses. The story behind these photos isn't what the reader might be inclined to assume at first, but the images do have a powerful affect on Ann. As a large exhibit of her father's work prepares to open, Ann becomes overwhelmed with memories of her childhood, and her self-destructive behavior escalates as a result.

I absolutely loved this book. Author Kathryn Harrison spares no expense when exposing the dark undercurrents of Ann's fragile existence. In addition to being a brutally honest and detailed account of this character's life and emotions, Harrison's prose are elegant and beautiful to read. "Exposure" chronicles the way Ann's personality was shaped as a result of her being a work of art, but this book is truly an amazing work of art all on its own. It's a must-read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible writer May 4, 2000
By Jessica
This was the first book by Kathryn Harrison that I read. It blew me away. She does things with words that most people can only do with paints. Reading her books is like being pulled into someone else's dream. I love the way she writes. I found the novel a little shaky toward the end, but it's definitely something I would recommend.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where Was Her Editor? August 16, 2000
Kathryn Harrison is a lovely, compelling writer but someone should have helped her with this one. Plot points intriguingly dropped are never addressed again (a mysterious self-imolating nineteen year old girl is dangled in front of us, then abandoned; the protagonist's father has an affair with a highly unlikely woman for whom there is never an explanation). In addition, the self destructive 'heroine' herself is a frustration. Watching her downward spiral is wearing, she never comes to the slightest bit of self-knowledge and we are left with no hope for her or her marriage to her faithful, eminently more sympathetic husband. Yes, it's interesting to note that our culture is hyper-obsessed with voyeurism, that lives are sacrificed in the process and no one seems to care. But by the end, I was close to not caring myself, which I'm sure was not Ms. Harrison's intention. She's a very talented writer, and I read the first half with alacrity, sure there would be some break in the endless self-destruction that would make slogging through it worthwhile. For some, perhaps watching a train wreck is fascination enough in itself. As for myself, I wanted more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cold ... January 30, 2010
There was a kind of woman who was very fashionable throughout the nineties - intellectual, talented, beautiful, damaged in some vague and unspoken way. These women made a performance of their damage and of their self-destruction and took us all along for the ride. Kathryn Harrison, with her memoir of incest with her father The Kiss was certainly one of them. I think also of Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation) and to a certain extent Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness), although I honestly think Jamison is ultimately more scholarly and less transgressive than the other two (and ultimately more successful). Ann Rogers, the main character in Exposure: A Novel is definitely one of them.

Harrison's prose is razor-sharp and her characterizations are clear and unmuddied, but there's something dishonest at the heart of this novel and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it is the way that sickness and misery are romanticized through this character. Perhaps it is the cold and enabling nature of the people around her. Maybe it's the refusal to truly examine the relationship between father and daughter that is at the center of all of this misery.

Does Harrison capture what it feels like to begin spinning out of control in this way? Yes and no. Yes, in that Ann is certainly spinning out of control and no, in that her wealth privilege ultimately cushion her in a way that takes the reader and all of the characters in the novel out of the story. Depression and suicidal self-destruction are neither glamorous nor pretty - Harrison spends too much time on and just past the edge of pretty to make this book truly work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Harrison
Though her novels can be heavy, I love them. They are worth reading for the beautiful writing alone. She has a way with constructing sentences that is totally unique. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Laura
4.0 out of 5 stars An inside look
This is the fourth Harrison book i have read. Each book is so different from the others. This was a really interesting (fictional) inside look at some one who is not wanting to... Read more
Published 23 months ago by rayma
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly Good
very good read, you can really understand what someone
That has been abused goes through and how it affects
Them in their every day living.
Published on July 16, 2008 by M. Gelfand
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love the Dark Side!
This has been an interesting journey in reading this book. I recall my own moments into the dark side and I can feel the emotions and upheavals in this story. Read more
Published on June 21, 2008 by Sandra R. Lightner
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubling, haunting, exquisite
With hindsight--the cue from Kathryn Harrison's memoir "Kiss" published a few years after "Exposure"--it is clear why a father-daughter's relationship is a central theme in her... Read more
Published on January 8, 2008 by Talia Carner
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Modern Novel
This is a readable book that is holds to a mirror to society and its sometimes neurotic behavior, particularly in regards to voyeurism and drug use. Read more
Published on September 14, 2006 by CJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Under Bright-Lights A Secret Lies
What drew me to this book the most was its cover. As interesting as the plot-line seemed, I think the cover was incredibly well-done. Read more
Published on August 22, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
The reader gets the feeling this author is speaking perhaps too close for comfort. Self destructing woman becomes even more unglued as her famous father's photographs are heading... Read more
Published on July 4, 2001 by Bridget Hockney
4.0 out of 5 stars You just can't stop yourself
You almost feel like you're driving down the road and are passing a car wreck. You know you shouldn't slow down and look, but you just can't resist. Read more
Published on July 14, 2000 by Caroline P. Hampton
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More About the Author

Author Photo by Joyce Ravid.

Kathryn Harrison was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, California, where she was raised by her mother's parents. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers Workshop, where, in 1986, she met her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison. They had a first date on Friday, April 25, and on Monday, April 28, they moved in together. The Harrisons married in 1988, and live in Brooklyn with their three children. Kathryn writes novels, memoirs, personal essays, biography, and true crime. She is a frequent reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and teaches memoir at Hunter College's MFA program in Creative Writing, in New York City.

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