Strickland is an insufferable arse, but the beauty of the sentences make this book worth it.
As the previous reader says, I also feel conflicted with giving this a great rating. The story is riveting but the main character of Strickland is just too much over the top to be believable. I can't imagine a person with a personality like his surviving let alone having such an artistic soul. The two don't match. He (the artist) makes his point that the only thing in life worth living for is to be creative no matter who he hurts or offends. He has no respect for women or anyone of another race or even for his fellow artists. He's altogether a despicable person but that's part of the reason this is such a great story.
I feel conflicted about giving this a "very good" rating. The writing and story are both superb, but the themes are very hard to take. 1. Good guys finish last and are buffoons. 2. Women can only love men who physically and psychologically abuse them, and other than housekeeping and romance have no real value. 3. The genius of the artist is an excuse for horrendous behavior. 4. Beauty and Truth are more valuable than love. Then there is a dash of racism to make sure that every possible reader can find a way to be offended. Are these the author's beliefs or is he just yanking our chains? I don't know, but it makes for some interesting and disturbing reading.
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