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The Tattoo Artist: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As someone who reads novels almost exclusively and who has read almost all of Ciment's work, I think she makes a leap with this book that is similar to the one made by novelist Andrea Barrett in her marvelous book "Ship Fever," which won the National Book Award. Ciment has pushed herself to a whole new level as a writer here. As usual, her prose is spare and taut, and that works very effectively in the service of her tale about a "primitive" society. I couldn't put this book down, and I can't stop thinking about it.
Sara and Philip Ehrenreich meet in New York in the early 20th century. Both are jewish activists. However, Sara comes from poverty and Philip from money. They are both avant-garde in their beliefs and love the world of art, culture, and revolution. Philip wishes more than anything that he could create art but he lacks that real gift. Sara, however, has it, and she becomes a celebrity in her own right. They end up partnering but their relationship is very open and experimental from the beginning. All is well until the depression hits and Philip loses everything. They are backed by a wealthy patron who has been impressed by Philip's mask collection and they head to the South Seas to collect masks from the Ta'un'uuans.
Once they reach their destination, unbeknownst to them, they will remain on this island for thirty years. Their first impression of the island and its inhabitants is mind-blowing. All the islanders are tattooed and their first view of them is like watching a moving tapestry. At first, Sara assumes that the beauty of the island is the inspiration for all their tattoos. Gradually she realizes how wrong she is. Their tattoos, which cover their whole bodies, including their tongues and the soles of their feet, tell stories, narratives of lives lived and lives lost. Through a series of unexpected events, Sara finds herself tattooed all over as well.
The prologue to the book introduces us to Sara and her tattoos. She is responsible for all of their design except for the tattoos on her face.Read more ›
The elixir of immortality is art, whether the written word or art in another form. This prose of this powerful novel reminded me of the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and other literary masters of an olden era.
To be certain, this novel isn't typical feel good literary pablum with the requisite happily-ever-after Hollywood ending (which seemed to disappoint certain reviewers). The novel is suggestive; it appeals to the sense and soul, and elicits emotion.
Deceptively simply and elegantly written, this story is a study of several characters, primarily a young woman named Sara Ehrenreich who evolves from a worker into an artist) and their exploration of the shadow, the dark edge, between art and life, sexuality and love, as they traverse their lives in this record of life in a bygone era. The nuanced setting and scenes, from New York to the island inhabited by the Ta'un'uuans, richly adds to the emotional depth of the read.
Sara Ehrenreich is a marvelous character, who lives and breathes in the pages, as she explores her identity, art, love, life and personal truths. Like life, in some ways this novel is a vortex of anguish that explores what it means to human. We strive and suffer all the while a series of uncontrollable events unfolds around us. There were many lyrical passages, some which almost moved me to tears, in the book:
"In the Ta'un'uuans' cosmology, only what has already been sung into existence is perceivable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good novel about a certain period in our history, as told by a revolutionary Jewish Middle Class girl, who spends her 30 "middle years" on a South Pacific island. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Socal444
Read this because I've had it on my bookshelf for years (I think I originally heard about it thanks to a favorable review in EW perhaps? Read morePublished 5 months ago by Keith Moser
This is a brilliantly rendered work of literary art--multi-leveled and rich with the really inexplicable human condition. It's an again and again must read. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Js
I got a thing for tattoos and art since i was in my teenage years. That is why I've decided to read this and i find it really interesting. Full of art!Published 9 months ago by andrew hartman
An engrossing novella that is hard to put down. Rich in imagery. Easily one of my all time favorites.Published 15 months ago by CHP
did not like this book. having said that i did finish it which i usually do not do if i hate the characters but for some reason i did finish. Read morePublished 17 months ago by amc
Stories told primarily in flashback either work or they fail spectacularly. I am pleased to state that The Tattoo Artist succeeds. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michael Cieslak
I picked it up because "artist" was in the title. Once reading it, I couldn't put it down because the story flowed with sincerity. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
Just finished reading The Tattoo Artist by Jill Ciment. It's like nothing I've ever read before. The fictional memoir of a 1920's avante garde artist marooned on a South Seas... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Robert Palmer