From Publishers Weekly
In this hefty volume, novelist Friedman takes a look at the artwork of more than 200 authors who found other avenues for expression in drawing, painting or sculpting. Aside from the familiar illustrations of Edward Gorey, Beatrix Potter and (to a lesser extent) Kurt Vonnegut, Friedman also unearths work from literary heavyweights past and present, including the Bronte sisters, Herman Hesse, Rudyard Kipling, Colleen McCullough, Vladamir Nabokov, John Updike and Jonathan Lethem. Each entry offers a short biography and passages from journals, letters or interviews illuminating the author's reasons for picking up pen or paint; according to Elizabeth Bishop, for instance, writers make a "frequent complaint that painting is more fun than writing." Examples of authors' art, one or two from each subject, are handsomely reproduced in vivid color alongside the text. Friedman also covers a long list of writers whose artworks couldn't be located or secured for publication, and essays by William H. Gass and Updike provide perspective. Sure to cover at least a few of any given lit fan's favorites, Friedman's volume provides hours of fascinating browsing, and makes a perfect coffee table book for the avid reader.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Imagine a favorite work of literature. Now imagine it unpinned from words. What is left? Anything?...Could a sonnet be a ballet? Could a novel find life as a melody, or a collage?...This is Friedman's essential conceit, and it is a subversive jewel of an idea, sparkling audaciously on every page of this well-designed book...Each writer-artist is allotted a two-page spread with a brief, eclectic biography and one or more reproductions of artwork. Among the included are the highly accomplished...the highly recognizable...the unexpected...[and a few] unabashed amateurs...Friedman's decision to incorporate statements from the writers themselves `wherever possible' enriches the book, which is laden with first-person reflection...this book celebrates what may be the ultimate artistic calling." -- New York Times Book Review, December 2, 2007
(Starred Review) "...In a grand feat of research and interpretation, novelist Friedman has gathered artworks ranging from notebook doodles to refined paintings by more than 200 diverse writers. Luscious reproductions are matched with pithy biographies...this bountiful volume concludes with a superb and defining essay by William Gass and reflections by John Updike, who has the last word on writers who make art: 'The impulse is one.'" -- Booklist