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Interviewing Matisse, or The Woman Who Died Standing Up: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 11, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Most impressive . . . Sharp, funny and strangely affecting . . Highly original . . . Wonderful satire.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times )

“Sophisticated and funny... Tuck gives us... with the skill and technique of an unblinking juggler, a heart-stopping struggle.” (Washington Post Book World )

Tuck has a knack for capturing the meadering quality of real conversation.” (New York Times Book Review )

“Shows a real gift for comic dialogue.” (Library Journal )

“Surprising . . . Technically audacious.” (Newsday )

“What great fun this novel is! . . . A lovely and engaging tour de force. Hooray for Lily Tuck!” (George Plimpton )

“Hilarious, appalling, profound... What an illuminating satire Tuck has written, her hearing so acute, her night-vision so preternatural!” (Richard Howard )

“What an ear Lily Tuck has!... Tuck has written a very funny and completely original book. I loved it!” (Frances FitzGerald )

About the Author

Born in Paris, LILY TUCK is the author of four previous novels: Interviewing Matisse, or the Woman Who Died Standing Up; The Woman Who Walked on Water; Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, which was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; and The News from Paraguay, winner of the National Book Award. She is also the author of the biography Woman of Rome: A Life of Elsa Morante. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and are collected in Limbo and Other Places I Have Lived. Lily Tuck divides her time between Maine and New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060832843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060832841
  • ASIN: B001G8WWSI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,548,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every odd paragraph begins "Molly said". Every even paragraph begins "I said". The entire novel of 148 pages consists of the back and forth phone conversation between Molly and Lily. Molly called Lily at 1:15 in the morning to tell her that their mutual friend Inez had been found dead, propped upright next to the service elevator in her apartment wearing her bra and panties and old-fashioned galoshes. The two then talk until 5:00 in the morning.

They talk about Inez, her two sons, her current live-in boyfriend, her ex-husband Price and his second wife Fiddle. They talk about their husbands, mutual acquaintances, and the petty vexations of life in 1990 -- in Manhattan for Lily and in Old Saybrook, Connecticut for Molly. And they talk about their own lives: Lily about how her father knew Ernest Hemingway, about the time when vacationing in North Africa the Moroccan threw a rock through the windshield of their car, about her golden retriever Jason and how he died when she left him in a closed car on a hot summer day while she went to see a movie in an air-conditioned theater with Marcelline. And on and on. Molly about how back in the 1950s she saw Jack Kennedy at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, about running over Alicia Thomas's cat, about the time she went swimming in her underwear in the pool of Henri Matisse and then took a photograph of the elderly wheelchair-bound artist while the French-Canadian journalist she was sleeping with interviewed him. And on and on.
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Format: Paperback
Hunting for a weekend read at my favorite book store, the Harper Perennial edition of Lily Tuck's 1991 novel "Interviewing Matisse or the Woman Who Died Standing Up" caught my eye. I fell for the title and the clever cover art (see the illustration) and bought it with only a casual glance at the text. If you know the book, you know that I was in for a surprise. It begins when the narrator, Lily (hardly a coincidence), gets a 2:00 a.m. telephone call from her friend Molly and doesn't end until the two hang up as the sun rises 148 pages of continuous chit chat later. No chapter headings or any other breaks in the flow.

Not a verbatim transcript, but rather the narrator's recollection of what the two had to say to each other in their marathon conversation. At first, the format was off-putting. But the more I read, the better I liked it. Molly called Lily to impart the distressing news that "She died standing up." Lily, who knows Molly's voice, asks, "what?" "Standing up. Inez. Hello?" And off we go. They two have not a little to say about the late lamented Inez as the hours pass, but much more about their own lives, lovers, maladies, mishaps, children, friends, travel experiences and political views, all in a pleasant gossipy manner.

Tuck makes this work in a number of ways. Lily the character is clearly having a bit of fun at the expense of Lily the author's phone habits. Lily and Molly are worldly, well informed, sexually rather sophisticated in a practical way, and enjoy the badinage. The conversation is sprinkled with interesting tidbits the two picked up along the way. My favorite, this one from Molly telling Lily about an experience in France:

"The gardener was there too. His name was Lucien . . .
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Format: Paperback
This book talks about events whom could like no very important, but in a certain way they could be considered a model of a new culture of the modernity. In fact they are related to the true life of persons who don't be particularly intelligent, but who have a certain sensibility for the world of art and the philosophy.
Those facts allows us to follow this context so descript and those men live a classical situations.
The lecture results speed and in the same time elegant for the many references to the cultural world.
Lili Tuck intertests the lector just for those particularities, so doing fluent the narration .
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked this book but didn't love it the way I loved The News From Paraguay. That book blew me away, and this one is pleasant read, a nice way to spend an afternoon.
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