From Publishers Weekly
Wiggins (Evidence of Things Unseen
, etc.) takes a magnificently Sebald-like approach to fictionalizing the life of photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952)—along with that of a woman named "Marianne Wiggins." The book opens as Wiggins presents her newly completed Curtis novel to a Hollywood agent. Curtis photographed American Indians in the early 20th century, and Marianne attacks the common image of Curtis as a swashbuckler who risked his life to photograph his favorite subjects. Even as she shows that Curtis staged the shots, and was an absentee husband and father at best, the agent is enthralled. Marianne, ambivalent, arrives home to a phone call that her father is in a Las Vegas hospital—the father who has been dead for 30 years. From that quick setup, the novel moves seamlessly back and forth between Marianne's painstaking research into Curtis's life and the journey she undertakes seeking closure with her father's past. Photographs taken by Curtis and from the Wiggins's family album, which she approaches from multiple angles, give the story several layers of immediacy. Curtis emerges as a fascinating, complex figure, one who inhabited any number of American contradictions. Suffused with Marianne's crackling social commentary and deceptively breezy self-discovery, Wiggins's eighth novel is a heartfelt tour de force. (June)
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The Shadow Catcher
is Marianne Wiggins's eighth novel. Over a career that has spanned more than 30 years and included a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Evidence of Things Unseen
(2003), the author has built a reputation as a stylist and a storyteller with an eye for distinctive, character-driven material. Her latest effort plays with the "traditional" novel in ways that make reviewers sweat. The book's mixed critical reception-certainly more positive than negative-likely has as much to do with questions of what to make of a novel so difficult to pin down as with any specific grievances over what Wiggins attempts here. Not surprisingly, the more straightforward narrative with Curtis and Clare resonated with reviewers more.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.