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The Incantation of Frida K. Hardcover – March 5, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1st edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583224696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583224694
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,630,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet, short story writer and novelist Braverman (Lithium for Medea) delivers a wildly energetic, nearly hallucinatory account of Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and wife of Diego Rivera. Frida is 46 and on her deathbed, addicted to morphine, Demerol, cigarettes and alcohol, and missing one leg from an amputation. Her memory is acute, though her chronology is foggy; in ecstatic prose she recounts the salient events of her adult life. At the age of 17, she suffers a horrific trolley accident and is impaled by a metal pole, which leaves her sterile, mutilated and more or less a pariah. Diego Rivera, the famous painter of monumental public works, notices her when she brings him lunches on his scaffolding; they marry and he transforms her into an international Marxist statement, parading her around the world in childlike peasant costumes. They are a wealthy, notorious "vaudeville team": Diego, ambitious and chronically unfaithful, belittles Frida's own paintings as "less than postcards," while foulmouthed Frida, raw from pain and addiction, scorns him as having the "heart of a butcher." Braverman keeps her jagged narrative from self-destructing by adhering to specific themes: Frida's desire for a daughter, as well as her personal and professional excoriation. Braverman's portrait of the "vanished woman" including her cartoonish recreation of encounters Frida allegedly has with Trotsky and his wife may put some readers off, but her work is commendably bold and strenuously imaginative, as befits her iconic subject.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Braverman's literary genius shines here as she takes on the voice of Frida Kahlo, which emerges with the luminous and haunting tone one would imagine the late Mexican artist would have. Gleaning inspiration from Kahlo's paintings, as well as her afflicted romance with Diego Rivera, Braverman (Lithium for Medea) clearly understands the tortured existence of the artist. She evokes the physical and emotional strain that Kahlo struggled with since an accident at age 17 and that ultimately defined who she became as a human and an artist. Her life is told through short, poetic sentences, creating an erratic tone, which, although unnerving, lends credibility to the prose. It is clear that Braverman has done her homework, no doubt studying Kahlo's letters and diaries, which have been published in the past ten years. Indeed, lines such as "I've transcended canvas....I'm working in a region of absence" seem to spill directly from Kahlo herself, showing that Braverman's talent lies not only with language but with imagination. Although this is a tumultuous and disturbing story, it is a refreshing reminder that Kahlo is emerging as an important and recognizable figure in the Surrealist movement apart from her husband. Throughout, Braverman achieves for Kahlo what Kahlo could never fully achieve for herself: recognition as an artist in her own right and not just Rivera's pretty Mexican wife. Rachel Collins, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Kate Braverman has once again enveloped us with her magical and incantatory prose poetry. This book uses the last day of Frida's life to explode and explore human conciousness and continue Braverman's fight for equality for women artists. This book has about as much to do with the real life of Frida K. as Blood Meridian has to do with the real life of Buffalo Bill. This is a book of distilled essence and a meditation by one great female artist on another. If you are looking for a biography, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a feast of the mind, a wild hallucinatory ride, and some of the finest poetic prose since Plath then this is your book. 'Bravermaniacs' don't have to be told what awaits them. For the rest of us, perhaps it is time to take a break from the linear novel and return to the use of fiction to explore the inner world that films simply can't deliver. I found the Incantation of Frida K. to be both beautiful and horrifying, an unforgetable experience and a book not to be missed by serious readers.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book has powers. If you are drawn to exquisite poetic imagery this book will reward you not only with the beauty and originality of it's language but with the success with which it invokes the drama, passion, pain and perception of its subject, Frida Kahlo.
Frida's story, in Kate Braverman's words, is a story of a human being who is fated to endure a life of severe and chronic physical and psychological damage, who is blessed and cursed with an extremely acute sensibility and the talent and drive to express it to the eyes and nerves of the world through her canvasses. Her work has been classified as Surrealist. She refused this label. She stated she was painting reality as she knew it. Morphine, Opium and Demoral were part of that reality and were what it took to keep physical pain down and her perceptions and her artistic production up. Medical and surgical treatments have come along way in the last 50 years.
The book also explores Frida's relationship with Diego Riviera, who was the centerpiece of her painful fate. He physically and psychologically abused her, humiliated her and used her originality and style to pioneer the corporate branding concept in marketing, while at the same time denigrating her vastly superior talent.(Who's the footnote now, Diego?}.
Kate Braverman has given us a Frida who can be seen , felt, admired, applauded and loved within and beyond the context of her paintings. Read the paintings, see the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on December 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Incantation of Frida K. by Kate Braverman
Here is yet another telling of the fascinating life of Frida Kahol, done in an unusual way by author Kate Braverman. The story is told by Frida while she is in a drug-induced state as she lays on her deathbed. Because of her state of mind, the book seems to read like a hallucinatory dream, with spurts of reality mixed in.
Frida tells her life story in bits and pieces, from the first day she meets her future lover and husband, artist and communist Diego Rivera, to her own exploits as a celebrated artist and fellow communist, and the accident that left her a cripple all her adult life. Since her memories are being told while in a drug-induced state, it is difficult to determine what is fiction and what is fact.
I found this a highly unusual book and rank it among my top 20 books of 2002. It is definitely not the book to read for one that wants to know more about Frida, but it is more of a work of art. Kate Bravermen takes the reader into the mind of an eccentric artist, and it is a fascinating journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This novel combines all the beauty of a poem, and all the acumen of one artist to another. Braverman's fictional rendering of Kahlo finally gives a materiality of the artist rather than the myth. For this alone, Braverman is singular in her audacity and vision.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chris R. Richards on July 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Braverman creates a fantastic, hallucinogenic landscape to represent Kahlo's vision as she creates her voice giving details of her life through her death bed first person narrative. The book explores the ideas behind what is truth when subjective perception filters the world differently for each individual, and Braverman succeeds well in representing Kahlo's point of view.
The book falls very short though in accurately representing Kahlo's life as it was. Biographical details are ignored and one begins to wonder what exactly Braverman's mission is. Kahlo's dedication to communism is twisted to have her describing key communist leaders like Trotsky as bourgeois hypocrites. Her relationship with Diego Rivera which Kahlo herself writes in her diaries as one of mutual inspiration and love is often represented as an oppressive hell. Feminist stereotypes are pushed on to the narrative as Kahlo is represented as being a water woman, Diego becomes a ... oppressor, and time is spent on random lesbian affairs and the nearly "hemaphroditic" nature and strength of Frida. Kahlo is rich material for a unique story, but it seems that Braverman often resorts to oft used tropes to tell her story and describe her life.
Fictionalized accounts of real people that adopt their voice are a troubled undertaking for artists and while the poetic language and imagery of the novel is often lush and inciteful about Kahlo largely the work seems inaccurate and often incomplete in its ideas about the woman herself.
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