Prize-winning author’s new collection of stories of art and torn emotions.
In the six stories that make up The Unfinished Novel, Valerie Martin turns an unflinching eye upon artists – driven and blocked, desired and detested, infamous and sublime, as they struggle beneath the tyranny of Art to reconcile their audience with their muse.
A painter who owes his small success to a man he despises, discovers that his passivity has cost him the love that might have set him free. An actress struggles with the guilt she still feels twenty years after an affair with a young actor whose promise mysteriously vaporized after a performance of Hamlet. A starving artist inhabits a bleak netherworld, where pride is a luxury no one can afford. A writer of modest talents encounters the old love who once betrayed him; now she repels him, yet the unfinished novel she leaves in his hands may surpass anything he could ever produce himself.
The last stories in the collection take us to Rome and a room with a limited view, and to a Brooklyn studio where a window opens onto limitless space. In the Eternal City an American poet is forced to choose between her lover, a dancer who has outraged academe, and a world so alien it takes her voice away. In the final story, a print maker, who has reached a certain age, enters so deeply into the magical world of her imagination that she can never find her way back.